Fall is finally here—many of the leaves on our Western rivers are changing, stream flows are low and water temperatures are cold, and it is time for us to wear fleece and wool. After a long summer of hot and dry conditions, the onset of fall means opportunities for your next fly fishing outing is looking better than it has in months. With these six flies, make this fall your best one yet.
The next few weeks are some of our favorite weeks of the year because hatches of fall Mayflies occur regularly and large trout are on the prowl for big morsels.
Here’s a look at our favorite six patterns for the next month of fishing for trout wherever you pursue them.
This fly is tied to imitate an emerging mayfly. It sits just below the surface film, where the hatching insects are easy pickings for trout. Incorporated into the fly is a piece of white foam. The foam holds the body of the fly in the surface film and allows the angler to see the fly. The most common hatch the next two months are Blue Winged Olives (BWOs). The Sprout Beatis Emerger imitates an emerging BWO or an adult.
The beauty of this fly is how simple it fishes—there are no articulated hooks to get tangled and its conehead makes casting easy. The ice dubbing pulses when stripped or puffs when dead-drifted. If you have not yet discovered the Sparkle Minnow, well, that’s less fish you’ll discover too.
At its heart, it’s a fly tied to imitate a midge pupa or emerging midge. However, the Zebra Midge is not just for imitating midges. It works very well for a mayfly nymph. BWOs are most active on cool, cloudy days—which we often get in fall. The low and clear water conditions can make trout more selective, therefore the sleeker Zebra midge is quite effective.
Tie: Zuddler and Sculpzilla.
Both of these patterns are intended to imitate baitfish and larger food sources, such as crayfish. They can be fished with action or dead-drifted under an indicator. As brown trout grow more aggressive and become territorial before spawning, large flies imitating a threat or big meal should be fished. When choosing a color, a widely accepted rule is to choose a light-colored fly on a sunny day and a dark-colored fly on a cloudy day.
A fly more frequently associated with stoneflies and terrestrials is also an ideal fall pattern. October caddis can hatch in small numbers on several trout rivers. The natural insects are large—often an inch or 2 wide—so trout do not ignore them. You will not see October caddis blanketing the water but fish a Chubby Chernobyl as the surface fly and a smaller beadhead (perhaps a Zebra midge) as the dropper and you’ll find some success.
BWOs can hatch on any given day over the next two months. A regular Parachute Adams will work fine but watching thousands of fish eat dry flies on various Parachute dries has taught us that the purple body makes a difference. Whether you’re a seasoned small-fly dry-fly angler, the Purple Haze will put a spell on you.
Choosing which fly to use is personal but should be grounded in knowledge and faith—faith in what you are using. For fall fishing for trout, stick to using the patterns above and you will enjoy some success along with some well-earned solitude.