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Trouts Journal

THE FIFTH SEASON // HOW TO FILL YOUR FLY BOX

Brandon Rodriguez / Mar 3, 2022

Over the week, we talked about various topics related to The Fifth Season. On Monday, we went over our favorite pieces of gear, Wednesday we dove into how to approach the fifth season, and today, to round it all out, we will discuss the fly choice. If you happened to have read Wednesday's blog post, we went over what types of flies you can expect to see throughout the fifth season. Today we will be building upon Wednesday's discussion and getting into specific fly patterns we believe are the key to success this time of year.

Midges and Emergers

Found in almost every body of water, midges are the cornerstone of any trout diet. These TINY insects hatch year-round and are a critical pattern to imitate, especially in Colorado's late winter and early spring months. The midge's two primary life cycle stages are the pupa and the adult, the former being the one most consumed by trout regularly. Typically as the days begin to warm midges will show up in large numbers towards the end of February and into early March, and trout wait eagerly for their fill. However, the hard part for anglers is choosing the right midge the trout are sipping on.

An excellent place to begin your morning out with a two-fly rig loosely imitating the midge life cycle. Tie on a midge Pupa of your choice, and then above, an emerger pattern, figure out what life stage the trout are keyed into. As the morning progresses, you may find that the trout are only interested in your emerger patterns. Remember that as the day progresses, so does a trout's interest in available insects. Hence why various midge and emerger patterns are such a critical piece of your fly box.

Check out the graphic below so understand a bit more of the midge life cycle

Umpqua Neon Nightmare - Pink and Orange

Do not let the slightly obnoxious and atypical color stop you from throwing this fly. This fly sports a realistic midge profile and will stand out among the rest of the flies floating through the river system this time of year. This a perfect fly if you find yourself on one of the many Colorado Tailwaters, especially the South Platte.

Umpqua Rojo Midge - Purple

Keeping in the theme of flies with flash the Rojo Midge is a fantastic pattern to use on western river systems.

Umpqua Massacre Midge - Brown and Yellow/Tan

The Massacre Midge is a fly that would work as a midge emerger and a baetis emerger. During the winter, fall and spring, we will often see hatches of midges and baetis coming off on the same day. Having a fly that works equally well for both hatches is always a huge benefit for an angler. The Massacre Midge adds a hint of realism, which is deadly for fooling double-digit tailwater fish.

Umpqua Antonio's Emerger

This fly is perfectly at home in a number of water situations and the high vis "hot spot" allows the angler to see the fly when light conditions are not in their favor. This fly is a great imitation for the BWOs of spring.

Jigged Flies

While nymphs are a year-round staple in any angler's fly box, opting for a jigged variation during the early spring months could lead to more productive days on the water. When using nymphs in the springtime, the depth of your fly is something you must be aware of at all times. Put plainly, if you can get your flies down fast and have them maintain a steady drift, you will find success. The best way to get down deep is with a long leader of thin diameter and a heavily weighted fly. The benefit of jigged nymphs is that they ride hook up, parallel to the water's surface as it moves through the current. This allows the nymph to bounce along the bottom with limited hang upon rocks or weeds and looks much more realistic in terms of movement when compared to traditional nymphs.

If you are having trouble finding trout while using nymphs keep in mind that when water temperatures are still cold, like in the early spring months, you will find trout often congregate in a few deep pools. While trout do this for a number of reasons, the trout's need for adequate oxygen levels and a dependable food source are the most common. Another reason to get your fly down deep! When searching for those deep pools a solid plan of action is to find shelfs, and drop-offs that allow fish to sit deep in the water column. Take time to focus on those slow seams along current lines and never underestimate slicks behind reasonably sized rocks.

Umpqua Blowtorch - Black and UV Purple

In 2014 I was in the Czech Republic with my Fly Fishing Team USA mates for the World Fly Fishing Championships. Our guide showed us a tag nymph which he preferred to swing for coarse fish on flatter sections of the Vltava River.

I had some success with it during practice but felt I could improve the color scheme, the hackle mobility, and adapt the weight to suit it to nymphing for trout and grayling in the other beats of the river.

After a few manipulations I landed on the recipe for the Blowtorch. It was instrumental in 2nd and 1st place finishes during that championship and has become my favorite attractor nymph sinc

Umpqua Frenchie Jig Tungsten

Take the OG Frenchie - which is one of the most popular flies on the market - and jig it up a bit! The results may shock you!

A QUICK NOTE ON SPLIT SHOT AND ANCHOR FLIES

"A piece of split shot is another way for you to get your flies down deep in a water column. By using split shot anglers can fine-tune the depth of their fly adding as little or as much as they need. This differs from the use of an anchor fly because anchor flies are almost always maintaining contact with the bottom of the river and typically provide different options for the fish as you move through the water column. Without the use of split shot, an anchored rig will present more vertically. This will allow you to present to multiple depths on the same drift. If the fish are moving up, you can anchor your rig, present to the deep fish with your jigged fly, and tie an emerger above to present to the fish higher in the column. Using split shot between the indicator and flies creates a hinge point and, more generally, presents all of your flies to the same approximate depth."
- TAD INGLES - DENVER OFFICE MANAGER
Dry Flies

All forms of insects are essential to trout during the early spring: nymphs, emergers, and dry flies are all on the menu for trout during this time. But when trout turn their attention to only dry flies, the most common - for Colorado in the late winter and early spring - will be Blue Winged Olives (BWOs). BWOs can often be found hatching on medium to faster-moving river sections with sail-like wings and long tails identifying them. If you find yourself wondering how to approach BWO's hatches, keep in mind that nymph imitations will likely be best before the main BWO hatch. As the morning progresses, those nymphs will start to rise in the water column and make their way towards the surface of the water (pst…so will the trout).

If you are deadset on only fishing dry flies, BWOs typically find themselves hatching when the water temperature is around 46-56 degrees Fahrenheit. You will increase your odds of finding a hatch when the weather outlook is overcast and rainy. While springtime is typically the first time many anglers see signs of dry flies; timing these hatches can be tricky. Remember that Blue Winged Olives grow in size as the spring months progress so, if you want to be well prepared, have a number of varying fly sizes to choose from in your box.

Umpqua Antonio's Adult

The adult version of this fly uses a CDC split wing on a straight hook. Attached is also the materials from squirrel body and the CDC tail perfectly imitates an adult mayfly. This fly will land extremely soft and floats very high on the water.

Umpqua Parachute Adams - Purple and Olive

One of the most versatile and effective dry fly patterns available and usually the answer of the often-asked question “if you could only fish one dry fly, what would it be?” Its effectiveness comes from a very realistic silhouette that sits low in the water and the highly visible wing that is known to be trigger for trout to eat. The highly visible wing is also in part responsible for its popularity among anglers.

Umpqua Comparadun B.W.O

The Comparadun defines simplicity, but it is a true fish catching machine. It has one of the most beautiful silhouettes in a mayfly imitation of all time. Due to the nature of the tie the fly rides low in the film and the hollow costal deer hair helps to keep the fly afloat. These comparadune’s are best fished for difficult fish in slow currents where a great imitation is a must. We offer this proven pattern in 22’s through 10’s to match BWO’s to Western Green Drakes.

TROUTS PRO TIP

"Like all predators, Trout will key in on the weakest or most vulnerable prey. To capitalize on this during a heavy hatch, you can make your offering stand out by fishing a Cripple Pattern a few feet behind a True Dry Fly. Cripple patterns like the Challenged Baetis or Film Critic, imitate stuck in the shuck emergers, or injured adults, and look like easy meals for Hungry Trout."
- RICK MIKESELL - Trouts General Manager
Streamers

When we look at the various flies that fill our fly boxes, we are generally aware of what they are imitating. Hoppers are mimicking different grasshoppers, ants, beetles, and dry flies are spoofing several gnats, mayflies, or caddisflies, but what are streamer patterns imitating? Most of the time, streamer patterns imitate baitfish, leeches, crayfish, or sculpins. All are enticing, and hefty meals for various trout species, predominantly Brown Trout. Typically when fishing streamers, you are tossing them tight to the banks. Once your streamer is in the water, you strip, twitch and stop your fly as you see fit. If appropriately presented in front of a big Brown, the Trout’s territorial instincts will kick in and lead to one of the most aggressive strikes you've ever had. Oh, and one of the most thrilling fights you've ever had, if you remember to set the hook right.

Umpqua Meat Whistle

This fly is constructed with material that is in perpetual motion. Do not consider this as simply a bass fly. It's an effective "frog water" trout streamer. But whether fishing for bass, trout, or whatever, there is really no wrong way with a Meat Whistle. Throw it to the bank and "hop and jerk" it down the slope.

Umpqua Lil Kim

One of the most consistent produces when it comes to single hook streams, the Lil' Kim is perfect for this time of year. Fish it from the banks or in a boat, this fly will perform. The copper cone head allows the fly to get down quickly into the strike zone so hang on tight. Make sure to have the gold and copper colors in your fly box.

It's the first weekend of the Fifth Season and I hope you all get out and take advantage of the opportunities available to you all. I for one will be. While there are inevitably some more cold weather days to be had here in Colorado, they are incrementally getting fewer and farther between. With that in mind, it is time to get out and explore all the opportunities Colorado has to offer this spring. If you are interested in learning more about the Fifth Season, feel free to swing by the shop so we can get you dialed in for the days and weeks ahead. This is truly a fantastic time to fish here in Colorado, and we here at Trouts want to make sure that your time on the water is time well spent.

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