Many associate gaudy, articulated streamers with big trout, but it’s often eggs that yield the true giants of the deep.
Pound for pound, nothing has more protein in a trout’s diet than an egg. If there is a chance that fish (of any species) are spawning in a given waterway, odds are our quarry will be keying on eggs. As such, anglers should have an arsenal of egg flies on deck and ready throughout the season in order to capitalize on what the trout like best!
Here’s how to fly fish egg flies and some of our favorite egg fly patterns for winter trout or fall steelhead.
How to Choose Them
Getting the color and size of an egg fly is just as important as it is with mayflies and midges. Good starting points are orange and light pink, with tweaks being made throughout the day. One of the great things about eggs is how easy they are to tie.
Something that egg tiers like to do is an experiment in different volumes of material. The opacity of the flies results in different “looks” of the fly in the water and thus, more options for the days when fish are picky.
How to Rig Them
When the egg bite is really on, a standard nymph rig might consist of two or three eggs below some weight. In this situation the brighter, and larger, egg is typically tied on first with a smaller fly trailing behind. One of the best trailing flies is a single egg in orange, pink, or cream color. It’s so light that even with weight above the point fly the single egg plays in the current in an almost weightless manner. This is important because, despite their high protein density, fish eggs weigh virtually nothing and move throughout the water freely.
Here is an example of a lightweight egg pattern. It will toss and churn with the water freely as long as you add enough weight above or below it to get it down where the fish is.
This weighted egg fly is great for getting near the bottom. If you’re looking to add just a single egg to your nymphing rig and not add any additional weight, having a beaded egg if incredible useful.
How to Fish Them
Fishing eggs can be somewhat different than conventional nymph rigs. In some ways, specific trout can be pinpointed feeding on eggs just like they can sipping mayflies.
Look for trout hanging below spawning fish. If these fish are moving to the left or right aggressively, it is a sign that they are feeding on eggs. An important note is to try not to fish over spawning fish, but rather the ones downstream feeding on eggs.
Once a fish is targeted, use short drifts with a lot of weight landing the flies right below the spawning fish. If done well, our offerings should sink fast and go right past trout feeding below!
Some of the best trophy trout anglers will say that it isn’t sculpins or mice that catch the biggest fish, but eggs. They can consistently be in a waterway and provide a steady stream of calories that make it worthwhile for fish of all sizes to feed!
When To Fly Fish Eggs
While eggs are great fishing year-round, you’ll notice a big difference during the spawning seasons. When looking at the breeding seasons below, you won’t be fishing these exact species. In fact, you will be fly fishing the other fish that gather below the breeding grounds to feed on loose eggs that drift downstream. Just commit these seasons to memory as a guideline when eggs will be hot and abundant.
- Carp spawn from April to June in the shallow waters.
- Brook trout spawn from September into October.
- Brown trout spawn from October through December.
- Rainbow trout spawn from February through May.
Please keep in mind not to cast near, wade near, or fish spawning trout. These breeding fish are producing the next generation of trophy trout and don’t need the added stress or exhaustion of human interference.