Spring Fly Fishing Tactics

For most of us, spring means warm weather and abundant hatches. From Pennsylvania to California, you’ll start to see stoneflies, dark-toned mayflies, and caddis coming off. Spring offers so much action and plenty of thrills between seeing that first rise to watching that trout engulf your perfect presentation. But with so much buzz spring can demand a large variety of flies to choose from and the right tactics to present them — which is why we’ve prepared the top techniques for spring fly fishing and the best trout flies.

Soft edges

When water is high and the current is too strong fish are forced to lie low in the calm water, referred to as “slack water”. Often times, refuge can be found along the edges and adjacent to riffles. Look to areas on the sides that are typically shallow in normal conditions.

Debris and big obstacles

Large rocks, fallen trees, brush, and other obstacles drastically slow down the current. Fish will find these holding areas that provide a calm deep pool. Place a drift along the edges of these obstacles and avoid dropping your flies directly in the center.

Clear water

Often time runoff water will be murky and muddy, which makes visibility tough for fish to feed. You’ll find more activity in clearer water so start your search here.

Swing streamers

Deep, murky water makes bigger fish more comfortable in venturing out. As a result, these tested oldies will be more likely to take a meaty snack swung near them. Take the time and switch to a heavier 0x-3x tippet with a dark streamer.

Learn how to fish large articulated streamers here.

Up close and personal

Dirty water and low visibility mean that you can get right on top of the fish without spooking them. If you know where fish are always pooled up, get close and make accurate drifts. This is a great opportunity to nymph multiple flies in a Euro-style setup, which requires you to get up close. We highly recommend using a wading staff for balance and to check your next step so you don’t step off a small cliff.

Spring Trout Flies

Later winter, early spring, whatever you prefer to call it—is an exciting time of year for anglers across the globe. Anglers start to get the itch, regardless of whether or not you choose to hang up your boots in the winter or brave the cold toes and frozen line. Daydreams of sunshine and late evening hatches are on the mind of many anglers. Springtime is the perfect opportunity kick off the season. Below are our Top 10 Flies for Spring Fly-fishing to cure you of your spring fever.

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Parachute Blue Winged Olive

We’ve mentioned this lil’ fly before, and for good reason. BWO’s should be on everyone’s best flies for early spring. As the water temperature starts to rise, so do the blue-winged olive hatches. These hatches are usually the first and most significant on many streams. If you spot rising trout on a warm and overcast day in early spring, make sure you aren’t caught without your floatant and BWO’s.

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Parachute Adams

Don’t let drab colors and simplistic design fool you. The Adams dry fly imitates many insects. From thawing out lakes, rushing rivers, and spring creeks, it will not let you down. It’s a classic for a reason, and arguably one of the best dry fly invented to date.

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Black Elk Hair Caddis

What I love most about Caddis is their visibility on the water. Dry fly fishing is a hell of a lot easier when you can actually see your fly. It also helps that trout can’t seem to resist the first sight of a Caddis fly after a long winter.

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San Juan Worm

Just because this worm is named after the great San Juan River, doesn’t mean that is the only place you should try and fish it. During spring run-off when flows are above average, and the water is running muddy, throw on a San Juan Worm—guaranteed to attract almost any trout.

Pats Rubber Leg

You can fish a Pat’s Rubber Leg like a streamer or you can use it as your anchor fly on a two-nymph rig. To dead drift a Pats, tie it on as your top fly and try a caddis pupa dropped off as your second fly.

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