Picabo Angler

Pee-Ka-Boo is a Native American word meaning "Shining Waters."

Picabo Angler is a destination: A full-service fly shop & outfitter located on the banks of world-renowned Silver Creek

June 23RD Double R Fishing Report

Monday, June 23, 2014:

Only 15 more shopping days until Trico Season. . . .   

This miniscule mayfly, the favorite of many Silver Creek devotees, surely will come off early this season.  There already are rumors of sightings up on the Nature Conservancy Preserve.  Now is the time to re-organize your Trico box, replenishing your inventory of old standbys and picking up some new patterns to make the hunt interesting.  Your friends at Picabo Angler fly shop will assist you in preparations for Trico Madness.  


When one considers just how small the Trico mayfly measures, it is mystifying that huge trout exhibit tunnel vision when the Trico hatches.  The serious fly angler is captivated by the Trico, some following Tricos around the West.  An angler has to be serious if Trico hatches are the quarry as early mornings are mandated; press the “snooze” button a few times and one is out of luck.  Success with fishing the Trico hatch requires a different presentation than other mayfly emergences and detailed knowledge about the developmental stages of both sexes of the insect.  The Trico hatch on Silver Creek is world famous and a supreme test of the angler’s skill set and knowledge.  It calls for 12 to 15 foot leaders with three to four foot tippets of 6X or 7X material, an extremely cautious approach, and skillful presentation.  


Tricos fall in the “crawler” category of mayflies.  The nymphs are feeble swimmers at best, always preferring to crawl unless they become dislodged from their hold on rock substrate or lose their grip on aquatic vegetation.  Tricos emerge from the nymphal stage various manners.  Many hatch in open water in the surface film.  Others crawl up weed beds toward the surface, leaving the exoskeleton just beneath the surface.  Some Tricos simply crawl out of the water on rocks or on the protruding vegetation which has developed on Silver Creek by mid-summer.  None of these emergence methods seem to prompt trout to selectively feed on nymphs.  Trico nymphs generally are light to dark brown in color and are only 1/8 to 3/8 inches in length.  

However, trout can be taken on Trico nymph patterns well before the hatch begins.  An effective nymph pattern for Tricos would be tied in sizes 18 to 24, with tan to dark brown fur dubbing picked out at the thorax, and 3 pheasant tail fibers for the tailing.  The classic nymph pattern is Rene Harrop’s Trico Nymph.  If you have reason to believe that the Trico hatch is fairly imminent, make the cast cross stream or quarter it down, mending so that the fly is dead drifted.  A strike indicator can help the beginning angler respond to the subtle takes common with trout taking the Trico nymph, or one can fish the nymph as a dropper off a Trico Dun pattern or terrestrials like ants and beetles.  


All Trico addicts have days when they simply cannot hook a trout despite trying all manner of dun and spinner patterns, the two most common types of flies that anglers rely on for Trico action.  We fail to realize that there are times when trout feed on emergers in preference to winged adults or Trico spinners, as trout do with other mayfly hatches.  What is it about the Trico hatch which causes the piscatorial quarterback to fail to read the defense?   Be on the lookout for rise forms and bubbles which are sure signs of surface takes, then follow the float of a few duns to see if any of them disappear.  If you see bubbles but no duns go down, then it may be time to try an emerger pattern. 

Harrop’s “CDC Trico Emerger” can be very effective in these circumstances, as it will suspend in the surface film.  The abdomen of olive dubbing (synthetic preferable) represents the female which is what trout will see almost exclusively in their early morning feeding) the thorax is dark brown dubbing and the wing is a tuft of white or gray CDC (a great situation to use CDC “oiler puffs,” tied in by the stem and trimmed to one’s liking).  Alternatively, just add a piece of white or gray polypro yarn or a tuft of CDC when tying your preferred un-weighted Trico nymph, so as to represent the unfolding wings of the emerging nymph.

A good presentation strategy for the Trico emerger is to position one’s self directly upstream of working trout and cast downstream directly into the feeding lane in front of a single fish.  Try to cast in line with the rhythmic feeding behavior of the targeted trout.  It is preferable to employ a cast which provides slack tippet so that micro-currents do not create drag.  


Female Trico duns typically emerge early morning and molt into spinners within a few minutes to an hour, the precise timing being temperature dependent.  Most anglers arrive on the creek just in time for the flight of spinners, often not casting until swarms of “spinners” hover over the bank and water surface, resembling medieval towers.  These anglers are missing out on some of the best fishuing of the Trico hatch; get there early.  The color of the female’s abdomen is light green with a dark brown thorax.  When fishing dun patterns In the morning one should use green bodied flies to imitate the (female) dun because the dark brown bodied male dun usually does not hatch until evening (and sometimes after dark).  We’re talking about patterns tied in sizes 20 to 24.  

Female dun patterns which can be very effective on Silver Creek include:  a green or olive bodied Hatchmatcher; the Trico Sparkle Dun; the Trico No Hackle; A.K. Best’s Trico Quill Dun; the Trico Female Dun (tied with wings of light blue dun hackle tips).  On a good day with a thick hatch of female duns the angler can approach relatively close to trout feeding on duns because the trout may be distracted fleets of Trico Duns floating downstream.


When the female duns complete the molting process they will fly into the often large swarms of male spinners hovering over the creek or forming “towers” over solid ground, and mate randomly.  Male spinners will “fall” onto the creek immediately after mating, before the female spinners.  This is because after mating the female spinners spend a half hour to an hour in the riparian zone waiting for the fertilized eggs to ripen before returning creek to deposit her eggs.  The female Trico spinners are olive in color while the male Trico spinner is dark brown to black.  One should be armed with both colors whether your favorite spinner pattern has white wings made of clear antron, white polypro, CDC, Zelon or hen hackle.  Another twist is to fish double winged spinner patterns which can be tied on #16 hooks!  The Trico Hatchmatcher is an excellent pattern for fishing the spinner fall.

Progressive Strategy for Trico Success.  

  1. Get on the creek early in the morning. It can be worth it!
  2. Before the dun hatch, fish nymphs.
  3. Fish an emerger when you suspect trout are keying on emergers.
  4. Then fish a green bodied dun pattern.
  5. When trout begin to refuse a green bodied dun pattern which has been working and Trico spinners are in the air, consider switching to a dark brown or black bodied spinner pattern.  
  6. Later switch to an olive spinner pattern.
  7. Fish a 12 to 16 foot leader with a 6X or 7X tippet.
  8. Land and release your fish quickly.  Don’t handle trout.  The heat of August can exhaust trout and kill them.  

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper