Archive for the ‘Blue Wing Olives’ Tag

data, data, data-boy   1 comment

Hidy Ho Fine Neighbors,

Hope all has been going swimmingly for all of you folks.  I’ve been staying busy, writing, speaking, picture taking, film-making, tying, and running my pheasant dogs.  Things are good.

As I mentioned, I’ve been doing a fair amount of speaking, and at this time I’ve about a dozen gigs scheduled this year.  I expect a few more to trickle in.  My main presentation deals with mastering technical water.  The talk revolves around catching big, selective tailwater trout.  Trout that are highly pressured and more than a little “experienced”.

A small part of the presentation deals with how to attack technical water you’ve rarely or never fished.  Without going into technique at this time, and assuming that the technique used is fundamentally sound, I talk about 3 aspects that go into selecting the proper flies to throw.  The 3 aspects are historical data, seasonal data, and conditional data.  Let’s break’em down.

Historical data is data that can be gathered accurately from several sources.  This data is about which bugs are typically active or hatching historically, or the same time every year.  Notice I said “active or hatching”  That’s critical, and we’ll hit on that in more detail a bit later.  How do you acquire historical data?  There are several good sources.  One good place to visit is your state’s wildlife organization.  With a bit of digging you can find some good info there.  Also, join an organization, like TU, or send them a question if you’re out of state.  Calling a river specific fly shop is always a good idea to find out which bugs are prevalent at certain times.  There are also river specific blogs, river reports, and fly fishing forums you can join in on.  Historical data is fairly simple to find.

Seasonal data is basically taking historical data to the next level.  I look at seasonal data as “What’s going on with the bugs at this time?”  You may have a good handle on which bugs, hatch when historically, but seasonal data further refines the information.  For example, on the South Platte this winter we have been seeing about a size 22 midge.  Historically, we will begin to see a larger midge come into the picture soon.  It’s a crap shoot when it will start to pop in earnest, but I know seasonally, it will come off.  The “season” or seasonal factors will determine the hatch.  Factors such as unusual cold snaps, non-historical flows and water temps, and even previous factors can put things off or ramp them up seasonally.  Maybe that low water we had last summer killed off certain nymphs.  That’s seasonal data.

To take advantage of seasonal data, again ask your local shop what’s going on, and look to several sources that I mentioned earlier.  Back to the South Platte.  I can observe the small midge coming off during the day, and I know historically the larger midge will soon start to hatch, so I will set-up my rig to capture seasonal data by incorporating a larger midge along with the small midge to prepare for the “active” large midge nymphs.  Look at seasonal data as the transitions between the main hatches.  Prepare for the caddis as you fish Blue Wings.  Prepare for PMD’s as you fish  with Blue Wings.  You get the idea.  It’s another way to stay ahead of the hatch, seasonally.

The last bit of data is gathered on the river the day you put your boots in the drink.  Conditional data is just that, what’s it like today and what bugs are hatching?


This fish pictured fell prey to a Chocolate Thunder, a Blue Wing emerger.  This was a “conditional catch” in that, the day was overcast, and the Blue Wings really came off more than a sunny cloudless day.  The hatch was prolific, and lasted longer than normal, allowing the fish to get really dialed in to feeding on emergers.  Conditionally, it was a no-brainer.

So, look at weather conditions to give you valuable clues to bug activity.  Is it cold, hot, windy?  Is a front coming in, moving away?  How about water conditions?  Murky or off-color?  Low or high?  How about angling pressure?  These are all  observable factors that come into play.  In The Fly Fishers Playbook, I have gone to great lengths to try to explain how to fly fish conditionally.  It’s that important!

When you combine historical data, seasonal data, and current conditions toward fly selections you are more than ahead of the game.  It’s fairly simple and goes a long way toward fly fishing success.  So, the next time you get ready to fly fish a river, go armed with proper data, and combine that with the days’ conditions so you don’t have to stand knee deep in the river scratching your head over your flybox.

Thank you for following, and FEAR NO WATER!     Duane


Staying ahead of the hatch.   Leave a comment

Here we sit on the edge of Spring.  Sure, it’s officially spring, but don’t try to tell that to our rivers.  To the South Platte, it’s still winter fishing conditions; however, and this is a big however, the aquatic life is starting to get the itch. 

Soon, we will begin to hit arguably my favorite time of the year for fly fishing.  Historical hatches will start to come off, and the fish (rainbows), coming out of winter, will begin to spawn and eat.  Fish will set up in the riffles at a chance to hammer food as it quickly zips by.  When not in the riffs you’ll find them in food super hiways sweeping side to side.  To capitalize, you must stay ahead of the hatch.

I’m not talking simply about identyfing adult bugs and reverse engineering, I’m talking about catching fish now on what is about to hatch. Anyone can properly determine which stage of which bug to fish if he or she sees the adults. On my last trip, I counted one Blue Wing (BW) actually bouncing about as an adult.  Interestingly, we caught roughly 9 out of every 10 fish on a BW nymph, because I know that the BW’s are getting close to the historical time that they begin to hatch.

My assumptions mean that not only are the bugs looking to hatch soon, but the fish are also beginning to look for that bug to get active.  Whether it’s water temperatures, sun angles or pre-spawn activity, something is turning the fish onto the nymph stage of an expected hatch.  Use it to your benefit, and stay ahead of the hatch.  A size 20 Mercury Pheasant Tail was the ticket.

What about when the daily BW hatch hits, how do you stay ahead of that?  Most days you have a pretty good idea when the daily hatch will occur.  There are exceptions, especially on tailwaters, because of water levels, water temperatures, and weather conditions.  All of that aside, the bugs will hatch sometime, somewhere, on the river.  You just have to be prepared.

  I usually will begin the day nymphing with an emerger and nymph representation of what I expect to come off.  When I see the first adult, wham, I am switching to a couple emerger patterns below an attractor.  For the sake of brevity, if you know the life cycle of the mayfly, you can decide when to throw  a nymph, emerger, dun, spinner, or spent.  Same goes for caddis, stone flies and midges.  Learn the life-cyle, be prepared, and stay ahead of the hatch.

Couple thoughts on stone flies and caddis.  The last couple weeks, I have been picking up fish with stone fly nymphs.  Not because they are getting ready to hatch, but because they are molting.  Basically, they are shedding into larger skeletons and the “new” nymph is quite yellow.  Hence, we’re picking up fish on nymph representations that are yellow.  As for caddis (and midges too), they progress from nymphs to pupa.  Learning to fish the pupae patterns  at the proper time can reap huge benefits even in the middle of a huge hatch.
The more you know about life-cycles and fish behavior the better.  I go into this subject in much more detail in The Fly Fishers’ Playbook.  For now, work to stay ahead of the hatch.
Here’s Mandy from last week.  We fished ahead of the hatch and picked up this beauty on a size 20 Mercury Pheasant Tail (Blue Wing nymph).
Fear No Water,

Posted March 24, 2013 by duaneredford in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,