June 26, 2015
June 26, 2015:
“The Times They Are A’Changing . . .”
Ever so subtly one can tell that the hatch and bug situation is about to change dramatically on the Double R Ranch water. The Callibaetis hatch on the both Pond and field water is beginning to thin out, which actually makes for some challenging “target shooting.” Baetis are starting to appear with greater regularity, both duns and spinners, throughout the field water and The Pond and seem to like the Comparadun, Hackle Stacker and No Hackle dry fly patterns. There are isolated and sparse hatches of Pale Morning Duns late morning in the field. Daily I get reports of Trico sightings . . . small clouds not yet hovering over the water surface and short but exciting Dun hatches; pretty soon the Tricos will b the dominant hatch of the day. The dmssel hatch should only thicken with this weekend’s forecasted temperatures over 100 degrees.
White Miller Caddis continue to hover over the creek early morning and again in the early evening. I urge Members to take an evening “cigar float” and swing a #14 Pheasant Tail soft hackle in front of the swirling and bulging trout, anywhere in the field water.
Don’t be the guy who enters a gun fight armed with just a switch blade. In my view, more than any other mayfly, the hatch of Tricos requires specific tackle, powers of observation and focused technique.
PODS: Often you’ll find both Tricos and BWOs on the creek at the same time and we all struggle with figuring out which culprit the trout are taking. A good rule of thumb is that when the trout are “podded up” they are keyed on the Trico.
NARROW FEEDING LANES: One rarely observes a trout moving any distance to take a Trico dun. I don’t know why this is the case; perhaps the small bit of nutrition is just not worth the effort. Trout just sit there and sip what comes directly to them. As a consequence, the feeding lane is narrow, narrower that is the case with just about any other mayfly. A successful strategy involves drifting the Trico dry pattern straight downstream to a rising trout; the fish will suck the fly in and turn at least slightly, and that is when you should raise your rod tip, preferably to the side rather than straight up. When casting at an angle to a bank sipper you will want to pile up 2 or 3 feet of slack tippet several feet above the working fish so that your imitation drifts over the trout like a natural insect.
LONG LEADERS: Tricos usually do not tolerate the wind, so the monster Trico hatches you encounter will generally be on “glassy” water or, on windy days, in the calm margins along the bank. The relatively thick fly lines can easily spook trout under these conditions (even a double taper line) so an extra-long leader will enable you to keep an appropriate distance from your quarry. I’ve said before that my favorite leader is the Trout Hunter 14 foot 6 X knotless leader. When fishing the Trico hatch I will augment that leader with 3 feet of 7X tippet because 7X readily piles up and is relatively easy to thread into the tiny eyes of size 20 and 22 flies.
DISCIPLINED CASTING: The Trico hatch on glassy water does not call for sloppy or undisciplined casting; to the contrary, it is the time to bring out your casting “A Game.” First of all, do not false cast nine million times; you’ll only spook fish by casting shadows over the water; one or zero false casts is sufficient to dry off your fly. Second, refrain from casting blindly or right into the middle of a pod of trout; again, you will spook the closer fish with your fly line. Instead, let you fly line and leader drift out of sight of working fish while you study the water, select a fish to target and figure out where it is best to drop your fly and how you want the leader to lay on the water. Then, and only then, do you cast. I often take the approach of pulling back on the fly line just as the leader is unfurling, so that the fly lands on the water gently with minimal disturbance; this also will minimize drag as the fly line, leader and tippet drift downstream at the same approximate speed.
FLY PATTERNS: I hate to say it but, as a general rule, when fishing the Trico hatch the specific fly patterns you use are less important than everything discussed above. You only need an olive bodied dun pattern, a black bodied spinner pattern and a green bodied spinner pattern. You are better off buying a quantity of one of each of those three basic patterns which have worked for you in the past than carrying a few of 50 different patterns. The primary reason is angler confidence. The secondary reason is redundancy. With that said, there are certain patterns which I feel are a “must” for successful fishing of the Trico hatch. In no particular order they include: (1) Harrop’s Trico No Hackle, both olive and black bodied; (2) Shane Stalcup’s CDC Biot Trico; (3) Bob Quigley’s Trico Hackle Stacker in black (or olive if you can find or tie it); (4) any Rene Harrop Trico pattern. These flies are available at the Picabo Angler fly shop. Of course, I fish a size 22 Hatch Matchers tied with olive thread bodies, black thread bodies or iridescent green Crystal Flash bodies.
REQUIRED READING: Get a copy of Rene Harrop’s relatively new book, Learning from the Water, and digest the section about Tricos.
TYING TIP: If you tie your own flies and are getting on in years, consider picking up a box of “big eye” hooks. They make it a lot easier to connect your fly to the leader, especially if you use a terminal knot that involves threading the tippet through the eye twice, such as the Improved Clinch Knot. You’ll thank yourself next time you find yourself tying on a 7X tippet in the glaring sun with a big brute of a fish working in front of you. Orvis makes a Big Eye dry fly hook, but I prefer the Daiichi 1110 because it is a flat eye, big eye hook with a shank that is a tad longer than the standard dry fly hook.