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Bruce Ajari: Get your flies in order for the upcoming season

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

Most fishermen are waiting for the winter months to pass so they can begin fishing again. For fly fishermen, winter is the perfect time to restock that depleted fly box.

Whether you tie your own or have to buy flies for the upcoming season, now is a good time to begin thinking about getting ready for the season that is not that far off. Spring is surprisingly close. It’s only about a month away now.

Since I like to fish dry flies, I concentrate on the flies I will be using during that time frame. Hatch cycles for insects repeat themselves each year. Water levels, which affect the water temperatures, can alter these cycles one way or another, but one can generally anticipate when certain insects will emerge.

An angler should consider this when getting ready to fish and when selecting his or her flies. For example, it will not do you much good to have October Caddis patterns ready for the spring, since these bugs are fall insects. If you can you will be way ahead of the game, presuming that you have all your early and midseason flies ready.

Since I like to fish dry flies, I like to target the flies I will use in the Truckee River around mid-May to around the end of June. You are likely to see mayflies, caddisflies and some little yellow stoneflies during this period.

The mayflies can be a variety of sizes from a size No. 16 to 18 all the way up to a size No. 10, which would imitate the green drake. The smaller mayflies are generally tied in olive, tan, gray and brown. Some of my favorite patterns for this are variations of standard patterns such as the adams, hares ear dry and pheasant tail dry fly. I like parachute and cripple style flies, but also will carry some standard dries just because sometimes that is all they will take when they are on the adult stage of the mayfly.

For the green drake, my favorite pattern has been the Lawson paradrake. This is a longtime standard that was developed on the Henry’s Fork in Idaho by legendary fly fisher Mike Lawson. Last year, however, I did much better with a Quigley cripple-style fly than on the paradrake. This is the first year that I had done so. I tie many cripple style flies that Bob Quigley developed on the Fall River.

For caddisflies, I have not found a better pattern than the EC Caddis that Ralph Cutter designed. Cutter was a longtime resident of the area and authored the “Sierra Trout Guide.” He has since written another book on Aquatic insects, “Fish Food.” He has also produced a great video on aquatic insects, “Bugs of the Underworld.”

For the little yellow stone, I personally prefer using an elk hair caddis with a white CDC wing. This seems to be the best pattern for me. Incidentally, this is also a great caddis pattern tied in the right size and color to match the originals on the water.

While I like to fish dries, I will also tie the nymphs that correspond to many of these particular insects. I will also tie these during the long winter months when I can manage to find the time. It seems that time is at such a premium these days!

Whether you tie them yourself or are buying the flies, you want to get ready for the upcoming season now so you will be ready. Many times when you purchase them they may be backordered, so getting your order in early just makes sense.

– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.


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