Spring fly fishing is punctuated by strong hatches that stir trout from their winter slumber and into a feeding frenzy.
The warmth of spring stimulates bug life in a big way, and for the first time in months, trout have a variety of insects to choose from to fill their dietary needs. For the fly angler that means a nice mix of nymph and dry fly action that signals a welcome reprieve from the tiny midges that dominate the winter trout scene. It all starts with knowing the best hatches of spring and what flies to use to match them!
Mother’s Day Caddis
You’ll often hear anglers talk glowingly about this hatch, and for good reason. The Mother’s Day caddis is one of the first strong insect hatches of the season that gets fish looking up. One of the aspects of this hatch that’s so appealing is the time of day the bugs hatch. Strong numbers of caddis can pour off of streams during the middle of the day, making it possible to spend a morning nymphing imitations like a z wing caddis, then throwing dries like a cutters caddis during the middle of the day.
Ice Out BWO
No hatch better personifies spring than the BWO. It’s one of the first non-midge hatches of the season and officially starts dry fly fishing for the year! If bugs aren’t actively hatching, try using an olive micro may in faster riffles and a split case BWO nymph in deeper runs where sink rate is imperative. For dries it’s hard to beat a cdc comparadun or last chance cripple spinner if you’re prone to fishing late into the evening when the bugs mate and start to drop their eggs back on the water.
Little Black Stonefly
One of the more underlooked hatches in the East is the little black stonefly that starts to appear in early March. Little is usually a misnomer when it comes to stoneflies, as they’re larger than most mayflies and caddis, but in this case the name rings true! The woven stonefly nymph in a size #16 is a perfect fly to match this hatch, and your eyes will appreciate the ease at which tippet goes through the hook eye after a season of tiny midges!
While spring may not have the famous hatches that garner so much attention in May and June, there are still plenty of bugs coming off to keep trout interested! Trout feeling the pang of winter hunger will lose their mind in excitement when they start seeing consistent insect action for the first time in months. Knowing what hatches are best to key on, and what flies to use for them, is a crucial component to success in spring.