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

July 6, 2016

July 6, 2016


Depending on where you are on the Double R Ranch and the weather, you just might run into an early morning hatch of the Trico mayfly. My journal reflects that Tricos usually show up on the Ranch water on July 10 or 11 but this season the hatch appears to be early.

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 a detailed knowledge of 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.  In my view it calls for 12 to 15 foot leaders with three to four foot tippets of 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, vegetation or are about to emerge.  Tricos emerge from the nymphal stage in one of three ways.  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, but a few trout can be taken on nymphs right before the hatch.  Trico nymphs generally are light to dark brown in color and are only 1/8 to 3/8 inches in length. 

An effective Trico nymph pattern would be tied in sizes 20 to 24, with dark brown fur dubbing picked out at the thorax, and a couple of  pheasant tail fibers for tailing. Your Stream Keeper has developed a preference for 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 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.

The “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.  The color of the female’s abdomen is light green with a dark brown thorax.  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.  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 rather 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! This season I am going to try a Trico spinner pattern with a bead head that I purchased from a fly shop over the winter. . .a “sunken spinner.”

Progressive strategies for successful Trico fishing. 

Get on the creek early in the morning. It can be worth it! Your Stream Keeper likes to get out on the water by 6:00 a.m., and drink coffee while swimming a Trico nymph.

Before the dun hatch, fish nymphs.

Fish an emerger when you suspect trout are keying on emergers.

Then fish a green bodied dun pattern.

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. 

Later switch to an olive spinner pattern. 

Fish a 12 to 15 foot leader with a 7X tippet.

Doug Andres, Stream Keeper, Double R Ranch