Quick Fly Fishing Tips for the Summer Insect Hatches

Quick Fly Fishing Tips for the Summer Insect Hatches

Table Of Contents

Tips for Summer Fly Fishing

  • Go Early or Stay Late: Best fishing occurs early in the morning with the Trico spinner fall and nymphing. Or, in the late afternoon and evening with more mayflies, caddis flies, and stoneflies.
  • Start With Nymphs, Finish With Dry Flies: Nymphs are best way to start the morning. Once the early morning spinner falls end, there is little to no activity on top until later besides the occasional terrestrial take. Dry flies are a great way to top of the day. The best dry fly action will happen then. The majority of insect activity occurs then. 
  • Hit Faster Water: Faster water will have higher levels of oxygen. This is safest for the fish during the hot summer days.
  • Go to Less-Pressured Areas: Fishing pressure equates to high levels of stress, which significantly increases the risk of death after release. Find remote areas to fish.
  • 45°F to 65°F Range: These water temperatures are safest for trout during the heat.
  • Keep Them Wet: From catch to release, it is safest to keep the fish submerged, at least partially, within the water at all times.
  • Increase The Poundage: Fighting fish on light weight tippet and leaders only prolongs the release. In an effort to catch and release as quickly as possible, increasing your poundage will allow you to speed the process up.

Tips for Caddis Flies

Caddis flies are a moth-like insect with tent shaped wings down the back and long antennae out the front. They are a major food source for trout and go through 3 major stages in their lifecycle.

  1. Nymphal / larva stage
  2. Emerging pupa stage
  3. Winged adult stage

Here are some tips for catching trout on caddis flies:

  • Drag-free drift for upstream presentations.
  • As your fly drifts past you or on a downstream presentation, try picking up your rod tip high and wiggle the line to skate the caddis dry fly across the surface a bit. Caddis like to skate while depositing their eggs in the late afternoon.

When trout refuse to take dry flies on top:

  • Drift an emerger pattern 12-inches below a caddis dry fly
  • Swing soft hackled wet flies down-and-across the pool

Tips for Pale Morning Duns (PMDs)

Pale Morning Duns (PMDs) are an important hatch in the mid-west and western states for fly anglers from July into September. They hatch from the late afternoon into the evenings in most streams. Characterized by a yellowish tint, they can range from a size #14 to #20.

  • Use 5x or 6x leader and tippet.
  • Use a long 9 foot leader for soft, delicate casts.
  • Parachute flies are a great way to fish both the “duns” that have just hatched and the “spinners” landing on the water. Plus they offer greater visibility.
  • Use floatant often to keep your fly above the surface and in your line of sight.
  • Target the seamlines that funnel bubbles and debris into one channel.
  • Arrive at the stream between 3 pm and 4 pm to catch the start of your local PMD hatch.

Tips for Tricos

Trico’s are a tiny mayfly species that hatches heavily during the summer and early fall. They emerge over the evening and descend onto the water in the early mornings before noon. This event is called a “spinner fall” – spinners are the final adult stage of a mayfly characterized by clear, translucent wings.

After they molt for the final time, Trico’s take to the air and form large swarms above the stream. Eventually, they fly lower and lower to the surface to deposit their eggs and die.

  • Use 6x or 7x leader and tippet.
  • Use a long 9 foot leader for soft, delicate casts. You want to put some distance between your fly and your floating line. This helps avoid loud ‘splats’ on the surface from casting.
  • Lead rising trout several feet with a ‘fly-first’ presentation. Casting from an angle will help keep your line from drifting over any feeding trout.
  • Use floatant often to keep your fly above the surface and in your line of sight.
  • Arrive at the stream early between 7 am and 8 am to catch the start of your local Trico spinner fall.

Tips for Midges

Midges are tiny insects that are in the non-mosquito family. Midges gather in large swarm above the water or streamside. They hatch year-round despite weather conditions and are a primary food source for trout and go through 3 major stages in their lifecycle.

  1. Nymphal / larva stage
  2. Emerging pupa stage
  3. Winged adult stage
  • In our area, we rarely fish dry flies and tend to only fish the pupa and larva stage by using beaded nymphs or non-beaded emerger flies. This becomes more common during the winter season.
  • Placing small midge nymphs like the Zebra midge or Rainbow Warrior 16 to 20-inches above heavier nymphs is a great way to fish faster moving water. 
  • Dropping a small size #18 – #22 midge emerger or nymph 12 to 30-inches below a dry fly is a great way to target slower moving pools. Trying using an adjustable dry dropper rig. Use floatant often to keep your fly above the surface and in your line of sight. 

Tips for Stoneflies

Stoneflies are insects with long flat wings and large segmented bodies. They can come in a bright yellow color or a darker grey color. Unlike other insects that make their way to the surface to hatch, they crawl out of the water on to rocks or streambank to molt into winged adults.

  • Yellow Sallies are a smaller species of stoneflies that are a yellowish tint, typically, ranging in hook size from a size #12 to #16. They hatch June through August.
  • Golden Stoneflies are much larger in size ranging from a size #6 to #12 hook size. They hatch late June through August.
  • There are darker grey species of small stoneflies that hatch in the winter and early spring called Little Black Stoneflies. There are large species of grey-colored stoneflies referred to as the Salmonfly ranging from a size #6 to #10 hook size.
  • Use 5x or 6x leader and tippet.
  • Use a long 9 foot leader for soft, delicate casts.
  • Fishing stonefly nymphs during the morning is a great way to take advantage of stonefly hatches during the summer. Adult stoneflies aren’t really that active until later in the afternoon. A simple Hare’s Ear or Copper John would work great.

Tips for Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs)

Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs) are a small species of mayfly characterized by an olive-colored body. BWOs have noteworthy blue-tinted wings during their dun stages.

  1. Nymphal / larva stage
  2. Emerger stage
  3. Winged adult stage
  • Usually found in sizes #18 – #24.
  • BWOs hatch in the spring and fall months.
  • BWOs can be counted on from the Northeast to the Rockies.
  • Duns are mayflies that have just emerged, or molted, from their nymphal stage. Dun mayflies wait until their wings are dry enough to fly away, which is why mayfly hatches can last longer on an overcast and rainy days.
  • When you cast spinner flies you’ll want to aim 3-feet above the surface and let your line lower to the water. This will make a soft presentation without spooking any rising trout.

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