When it comes to early Spring trout fishing, the forage buffet becomes troublesome to pinpoint patterns that match the hatch on your local stream. It isn’t easy to navigate the wide world of online fly shops, searching for the best flies. That’s why here at The Fly Crate, I’ll break down my favorite patterns for this time of year! Here are my top 10 flies for early Summer trout fishing!
First, let's start with streamer flies. Streamers are bigger sinking fly fishing flies that imitate minnows, crayfish, leeches, large insects, etc. that are usually retrieved for movement.
Whether you’re head hunting for monster browns, or want a more engaged style of fishing, streamers can provide a unique experience and hook bigger fish! Here are a few streamer patterns I reach for when fly fishing in Early Summer!
You can’t beat a wooly bugger for catching any species of fish. Dull and drab colors work well and can be drifted or stripped with great success. I like to also rig a few in tandem for a cool multi-rig effect. These work well on intermediate line or floating line, depending on your desired depth.
The Marabou Muddler Minnow is a great pattern with loads of action! I like to workstream banks and use this pattern to aggressively search for hungry browns. The flashy material allows for great customization of the patterns! For deeper pools with moderate flows, I like to swing this fly down and across the stream so it covers a lot of water.
I love the micro bugger for so many applications! In some cases, it can act as crustaceans, as big stone flies, as bait fish, and so much more! You can strip it in, or drift it! I like to tie a few in muted or drab colors, and include a few with rubber legs alongside those without. Match the hatch, and you will find bites.
Stoneflies aren’t always abundant in some streams, but opportunistic trout will seek out these protein packed nuggets whenever they have the chance! Sometimes, I get bites on stonefly patterns used as my point fly, even when there is no stonefly hatch! Try a few of my favorites from below to see if they work as well for you as they do me!
Early summer is notorious for flooding and high water from snowmelt or heavy rain, what we call "runoff." Not only that but in the mid-west and much of the USA, grasshoppers are a prevalent food source. Trout get pushed off into eddies and slack water for refuge from the turbulent water. Using a Micro Chubby Chernobyl to imitate caddis and stonefly hatches, cast into these slow-moving pools and mend your line to reduce drag. The foam body will help keep this fly above the white water with the ease of visibility.
Our staff enjoys fishing these small foam dry flies with a trailing emerger or lightweight nymph in size #18 to #22. Typically, we tie a 12-18 inch section of 5x or 6x tippet onto the Micro Chubby Chernobyl from either the eye of the hook or the bend of the hook -- your choice. By doing this we are doubling the use of the Micro Chubby Chernobyl as a strike indicator and as a caddis presentation.
This is my absolute favorite stonefly pattern that gets my flies down and in front of the trout I’m chasing! I prefer the gray and black stone with white goose biot legs, but black works well also. This works well as my point fly in my system.
When I want to grab a trout’s attention, I reach for a stimulator! I love this fly as a go-to fly for imitating stoneflies, as well as terrestrials in some cases. I fish primarily olives, blacks, and browns myself. However, the pattern comes in a variety of colors. The Stimulator rides high and takes floatant well! Mends easily also!
Every fly fishing enthusiast revels at the idea of casting a dry fly during a mayfly hatch. This is obviously due to the glamourization of these insects in our industry. There is good reason for it! Mayflies make up a good chunk of a trout’s diet. Here are a few of my favorites for fishing fast water in the Early Summer! Try a few to see if you like them as well!
I chose the Parachute Adams with foam to provide us buoyancy in rising or turbulent waters. The Adams is a classic mayfly imitation that fools fish annually. You can even add a foam post to ensure you can fish it in choppier water.
Blue-Winged Olives (BWO's) are found in nearly every stream across the United States. BWO's are actually a general term given to multiple species of mayflies that have a similar olive shade. That can be found in bright, vibrant colors to dark hues and dull shades.
The prince nymph is well known and can attract fish in fast moving water. I like to use slightly muted colors in slower water, while selecting flashier flies in faster runs. This often helps attract fish while not pushing them off. The Prince Nymph can be tied to sink like a rock with varied wire wraps, so choose the right weight and get your flies to the fish!
My favorite mayfly nymph is a twist on a classic hare’s ear. I like the Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear because it profiles well as the traditional hare’s ear, but with the added benefits of wet fly and hackled spider patterns. You can still have it be as heavy as you wish, while keeping it simple. The wet fly looks amazing!
My favorite hatches throughout the year tend to be caddis hatches! There is something about the fluttering of the sailboat- like wings of a caddis fly that does it for me… That being said, I fish loads of caddis imitations, with great success on most! Here are a few of my favorite patterns that I believe catch me the most fish on a caddis.
My tried and true caddis imitation is the Elk Hair Caddis. However, I have been dabbling and loving the CDC version as well! It does the trick and floats just a tad lower in the film. Both work well, and I will often tandem dry rig them together to offer a high floating option alongside a lower and slightly “drowned” option for the fish that isn’t entirely submerged in the surface film.
The soft hackle caddis is a green pupa-esque core with a great casing imitation that when wet, is a trout slayer! I love this style fly, and when I find cased caddis, I immediately size up one of these nymphs. Trying different shades of greens and olives will greatly improve your likelihood of finding a winning fly each trip out!
Bonus: Zebra Midge & Scud
As with almost every list I make for best fly patterns, I would be remiss if I did not include a Zebra Midge or a Scud. These two ultra-versatile flies are incredibly useful patterns to have on hand. When cold fronts or weather changes vary wildly (as they do here in NY) I will often reach for a reliable Zebra Midge or scud pattern! These are forage items found in more streams, during more seasons than most other forage sources!
These are my go-to patterns that pack a punch fly fishing early summer! When I prospect my local small streams for fish, I have some variation of each of these patterns! When you get the opportunity this Summer to poke around your local systems, give a few of these a try! Tight lines!