Bruters biting on dry flies in local rivers | SierraSun.com
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Bruters biting on dry flies in local rivers

Provided to the SunTruckee resident Steve Buelna holds a nice brown trout he caught on a dry fly on the Truckee River this season.
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Watching a large fish come to the surface to take a well-presented dry fly is one of my favorite things in the world to see. During this time of year I am able to do this with some regularity in our local waters.

For those who don’t fly fish, a dry fly typically represents an adult insect that is floating on the water in a state of emerging from their nymphal or pupal stage or returning to lay eggs on the surface. There are dry flies that represent emerging mayflies such as the Quigley Cripple, adults drying their wings such as the traditional Adams and even those that represent spent-spinners or mature mayflies that have mated and died on the surface.

There are also similar patterns for caddisflies, stoneflies and midges, the primary forage of most trout. Throw in some terrestrial patterns like ants, beetles and grasshoppers and you have quite a variety of dry flies from which to choose.



Anglers use floating fly lines and tapered leaders to cast their flies to rising fish or likely looking holding water. The fly itself is treated with a liquid or paste fly floatant to make it float high and dry. This treatment will last for quite some time, but the fly will eventually get water-logged and begin to sink.

The angler can either switch his or her fly out with a fresh one, or they can dry it off the best that they can and then treat it with a powdered floatant material. This material is a desiccant that draws the moisture out of the fly. Once treated, the fly will ride high again for some time. Treating the fly with regular liquid or paste floatant will only seal in the moisture, causing the fly to sink.



An angler who wishes to fish dry flies successfully right now should concentrate on midday and evening hatches. This will ensure that the angler has the best opportunity to cast to fish that are actively feeding on the surface.

The early part of the season is a prime time to go out and fish our local waters because a number of different hatches occur, bringing very large fish to the surface to feed.

The two most consistent big-fish hatches are probably the Green Drake mayflies and the Little Yellow stoneflies. Both of these hatches have been happening on the Truckee and Little Truckee Rivers. The Green Drakes are waning now, but the Little Yellow stoneflies should go strong for another week or two, at least.

Because of the lower water conditions this spring due to the lack of runoff, the hatches on the Truckee River have been abundant. Different species of mayflies have shown up this spring, bringing fish to the surface in the middle of the day. Also, the carpenter ant emergence had provided anglers with some great early season dry ant fishing in the river. Big fish love those ants!

Even when no hatches are occurring, an angler can still fish dries successfully. He or she just has to concentrate on likely looking holding water and understand some of the characteristics of the flies that they are using.

An example would be fishing the Little Yellow stonefly dry during a non-hatch period. Anglers know that these insects fly to the bushes and wait until it is time to mate or return to the water to lay eggs. The fish know this as well.

Anglers should concentrate on running their dries along the willows that line the edge of the bank to maximize their chances for success. The willows provide cover for the trout midday and provide them with some easy meals that fall from the trees. This is also a great way to fish terrestrial patterns.

If you are fishing the Truckee, one last piece of advise that I could offer is to make sure that you are using a stout enough tippet. A 4X tippet is probably the best size to use while fishing dries in the river right now.

Flows look like they will be good in the Truckee the rest of the summer and into the fall, so get out there and try some of the best dry fly fishing that we have had in some time. It is the best that I can recall.

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


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