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

August 16, 2016

August 14, 2016

I subscribe to just about every fly fishing or tying magazine known to man and in general I find few of the articles to contain information relevant to fishing Silver Creek or, for that matter, other spring creeks. But, occasionally I am enriched by something I’ve come across and the sporadic wisdom is not confined to one publication, so I continue to subscribe to the lot. The fall 2016 issue of Fly Fishing & Tying Journal contains an informative article by Dave Hughes about fishing the Trico hatch. For several decades I’ve followed the writing of Dave Hughes, an Oregon guy, since the publication of the book he co-authored with Rick Hafele about western hatches. I have confidence in his writings because most everything he has written about my home river, The Deschutes, I’ve found to be accurate. In the case of this article concerning Tricos I have come to many of the same conclusions as Dave Hughes just from my own experience on Silver Creek. So, I am willing to give his suggestions new to me a try, particularly this season where the Trico hatch has been so challenging.

Hughes article is the first for quite some time to painstakingly cover the various stages of the Trico hatch. He relates how the male Trico hatches the prior evening and that the male duns have transformed into spinners overnight. He tells us that the female Trico hatches as early as first light and evolves into its spinner stage in short order. He informs us about the mating swarm wherein the male and female spinners get it on. He neglected to mention that the female spinners hang out in the bushes or air for a short time to allow their fertilized eggs ripen, probably because he views the male spinner fall as being the most important stage to the average Trico angler. I feel that the Trico Maniac in all of us should be aware that there are some days, particularly now when the Trico hatch is waning, where the female spinner can provide a productive angling opportunity, if one ties on a white or pale yellow to cream spinner pattern with a black thorax. I feel that it is important to remember that there really is not two hatches of Tricos in one morning; the “first” spinner fall you witness is dominated by male spinners intent of mating whereas the second spinner fall will often be populated by a heavier percentage of female spinners destined to deposit their eggs on the water.

Hughes advice regarding equipment is similarly right on point. He recommends a 3 to 5 weight rod and a 12 to 15 foot leader with a three foot 5X or 6X tippet. We don’t allow rods lighter than a 4 weight on the Double R Ranch water and I prefer a 14 to 16 foot 7X leader because I feel it allows for a more extended drag free drift of the fly. Hughes preaches that your Trico imitation should never be larger than size 20 and he prefers a #22 and sometimes a #24. Lately, I have been starting out with a size 24 and will switch to a size 22 when my tippet will no longer thread through the eye of a #24 hook and the fish don’t seem to care.

In terms of presentation, Hughes stresses that the angler should never cast upstream and over trout feeding on Tricos. He instruct us to fish downstream to Trico-gorging trout using whatever method will extend the drift, including the downstream reach cast and the downstream wiggle cast. He recommends targeting trout rising along the banks or otherwise outside the main pod so that your fly does not get lost in a sea of naturals. If you have difficulty seeing your Trico imitation, Hughes offers the suggestion of tying it on a 2 foot dropper off a larger indicator fly. 

For me, the most valuable bit of information I took way from Hughes article was contained in a paragraph treating the feeding on sunken Trico spinners. Hughes tells us that when you repeatedly see the backs of tails of trout feeding on Tricos, the fish are likely taking spinners below the surface. I have long been aware of that behavior and this season I have experimented with a Trico spinner I bought that featured an epoxy “bead” right behind the hook eye. To be honest, I haven’t had much success with it. Hughes suggests that the angler fish a standard Trico spinner without greasing the wings with floatant, as the fly should then naturally sink below the meniscus. Alternately, Hughes ties an itsy bitsy tiny weeny soft hackle and allows it to slowly swing below the surface.

Hey, it is well known among the Members that I am a soft hackle freak so last night I tied up a dozen. Hughes Trico soft hackle calls for a 1X heavy wet fly hook (to help sink the fly), gray 8/0 or 10/0 gray thread, tailing of dun colored hackle fibers, muskrat fur dubbing, and a sparse collar of medium dun hen hackle. I tied a half dozen with a body of brown-olive thread rather than dubbing, and on some of them I substituted gray Zelon for the hackle fiber tail. Armed with a “new” fly and having the benefit of Hughes’ refresher course, I set out this morning confident that I would conquer Trico-feeding fish this morning. Unfortunately, I left the newly tied soft hackles in the trailer.

There were some Tricos on the water this morning early on. I landed one nice 17 inch Rainbow on a #22 Trico No-Hackle before the trout began to pod up. I had a few takes but missed them all. The Trico hatch only lasted about 45 minutes where I was fishing. But, then there was a dense hatch of Baetis, including duns but mostly spinners that were about a size 22. I tried a likely looking spinner pattern for 15 minutes but I could not see the strike. So, I switched to the trusty old Baetis Sparkle Dun in size 22 and landed 2 nice fish. The dreaded damsels came off and distracted most of the trout from the mayflies, so I called it a morning. Look for the Tiny Blue Winged Olive to gain increasing importance during the next week.

Doug Andres, Stream Keeper, Double R Ranch