WHAT KIND OF TROUT FLIES DO I NEED?
By ROSE BENNETT PARKS
Several years ago, I went with a guide into an out-of-the-way region to fish for trout. I walked all day over a bad, make-shift trail, only to find out when I got there that the trout were feeding on little red "lady bugs" of which there were uncountable trillions in the neighborhood and not one red fly, or partly red fly, red undershirt, nor bandanna handkerchief could we muster between us. The size and numbers of the Rainbow in the pools made our hearts sick.
Up to that time I had been very successful with a Blue Upright and it so happened that upon several following vacations I had such good luck with this drab fly that I finally came to swear by it. Nor is my situation unique. I have met fishermen equally enthusiastic over the Royal Coachman, the Brown Hackle, the Black Gnat, and the Grey Hackle, and others with prejudices as absurd as mine.
Since then it has been my good fortune to spend two entire trout seasons within proximity of several well stocked streams and lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Here, the season lasted from the first day of April until the last day of October; and although I fished on the average of once a week and sometimes was able to get in a mid-week trip, I found that the element of uncertainty gave zest to each day's sport and I never tired of it.
I learned several things. One of them was that I didn't know a thing about trout fishing or about flies.
At the altitude of which I write, the season opens with several feet of snow on the ground and icicles along the creeks. Fishing is far from pleasant, but the trout will take an "angle" worm rather indifferently. As the snow melts, the water gets roily and much food is washed down stream and into the mouths of the waiting trout. The only excuse for bait fishing, which is very poor for several weeks, is the delicious flavor of the trout at this time of year.
The days warm up; crawling and flying things begin to stir about: the water clears and then comes the day of days — one forward spirit in the trout world rises to a Black Gnat. This day, coming- at different dates on different years, is the actual opening of the trout season.
From that time, each successive trip added more lore to my trout knowledge. I learned from the flying things in the air about me. A: this elevation. swarms of bugs hatch out all ot a sudden, live their short span, go, and arc succeeded by different insects. Close scrutiny of them brought to the attention colors and variety of markings unobserved save by the tier of flies.
I learned to catch my sample insect from what I saw most of. and to use the fly most closely resembling him. This is a very successful rule. There are exceptions. One day the trout rose with equal snap to every fly collection, from the sober Black Gnat to the giddy California Coachman, with the exception of the White Moth. One late afternoon, a month later, I had fine sport with this fly in a deep, still pool. Another afternoon, the mosquitoes were a pest, so I took off my upper fly and put on a Midget. I dangled him over the water as enticingly as I was able. Instantaneous results! I prospered until some glutton neatly nipped off this fly, which was the only one I had. There was another day — climatic conditions remained unvaried — when the trout refused to take any kind of a fly. Fishermen, about ten miles away in the next watershed, reported a similar condition.
As the water in the streams gets lower, the trout lose some of their fine flavor and the fishermen must go still higher into the mountains for the finer flavored fish. When the first frosts come, about the end of August or possibly later, the insects die off and fly fishing is no longer any good, with the exception of occasional warm days when the blue fly (red "lady bug" in certain sections) and more hardy species are about.
To answer the question, "What kind of trout flies do I need?" I would say that I need all the different kinds that are imitations of the flies native to the waters where I am going to fish. I won't need all of these flies on a single day's outing, but I want them handy because I don't know in advance what insects will come forth for sunshine on that particular day. The majority of insects appear on and off throughout the warm weather; some exceptions are: flying red and black ants in the spring, small bees and wasps in mid-summer, and grasshoppers in the late summer.
In closing, I would like to add, that I have never had any luck fly fishing for trout with a
hook larger than a No. 10; that I like a No. 12 and No. 14 hook best, in order named, while I have found a No. 16 hook preferable for lake trout. There are not many lake trout that will rise to a fly, but those that do seem to fancy the small hook.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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