Column: Presentation as important as menu items in river feasting |

Column: Presentation as important as menu items in river feasting

I often get asked how important fly selection is in being a successful fly-fisherman or woman. The question sounds silly, but when you become a fly-fisherman or woman you will often hear that 90 percent of being successful is presentation. How you present the fly is by far the most important element of catching fish.

While this is true, without the right fly your chances for success are going to be pretty poor. Fly selection is extremely important and not always that easy.

The angler must first know at least the basics in being able to identify insects. You don’t need to know the scientific names of the insects, but the more you know the better you can be at selecting the right fly.

An angler should at least know the basic aquatic insects in our region. Start with the mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies and midges. Being able to identify an insect from these groups is very important to success. While there are other important insects, these are the first ones that you should get to know.

Once you can identify these insects, research their habits. What is their life cycle? Do they go through a pupal stage or directly from the nymph to adult? What are the habits in each stage?

Once you can answer these questions, you are probably ready to begin thinking about selecting the right fly. There are three basic things to consider in selecting your fly. First, make sure that the fly you select is the same size of the natural that you are trying to imitate.

Second, make sure that the shape of the fly accurately portrays the shape of the natural. Third, try to match the color of the natural as best you can.

The first two are absolutely critical factors in fly selection. Many people disagree on the importance of the color however. Many experts feel that if the fly is a basic light or dark shade, it will be taken even if the color is not exact as long as the size and shape of the fly are correct.

Based upon my own experience, this light-and-dark or near-enough theory works most of the time. There are those instances when only a specific color will do. Other imitations will be rejected, and I have absolutely no idea why. If you figure it out, you are on the road to mastery of fly-fishing.

An example of picking the right fly occurred on a recent still water trip. I had to make a decision as to what fly to use based upon the activity that I was observing.

There were mayflies flying in mating swarms when I arrived, and when I got out on the water I saw mayflies hatching as well. What I did not see was any surface activity.

What this meant was that the fish were either feeding on something else, or were feeding on the nymphal stage of the insect. Generally, with so many insects showing, the nymphal stage would probably be a good guess. Knowing this I was able to use a proper sized nymph and had a tremendously successful afternoon and evening.

The other element is to keep watching and see if anything changes as you are fishing. For example, I was constantly watching to see if the fish were showing signs of feeding on the surface.

Toward evening they did, and I was able to change tactics and succeed in continuing to catch fish with the same fly, but presenting it differently.

As I have always said before, observation is such a key element in being a successful fly-fisherman or woman. Having the right fly certainly does not hurt your chances for success though. Keep this in mind the next time that you are out on your favorite water and perhaps your success rate will be enhanced.


Boca – (25,906 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair to good. Anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are still having some success. The area near the dam is also fishing well. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boaters are having fair to good success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing remains good. Fly-fishermen near the inlet should have fair to good action using a variety of nymphs, streamers and emergers.

Donner – Fishing has been good. Most anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair-to-good success. Mackinaw fishing has been fair. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had fair-to-good success.

Lake Tahoe – (Elevation 6,227.64 ft.) Fishing has been good for Mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for Mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair.

Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may bagged or possessed) Fishing is improving. Try using nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quiqley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.

Little Truckee River – (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two-fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – The river flow is running at a rate of only 62 cubic feet per second. The fishing has been fair-to-good, but could be tougher with these reduced flows. Fly-fishermen fishing this section are concentrating on a mix of nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers.

Prosser – (14,244 ac. ft.) Prosser fishing has been fishing fair to good. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Trolling has been mostly with flashers and nightcrawlers. Fly-fishermen near the inlets are fishing primarily with midges, nymphs and streamers.

Stampede – (207,469 ac. ft.) Stampede is rated as fair to good. Shore angling is improving. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Trollers are having good success for kokanee salmon. Most used a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Fly-fishing has been good. Nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers have been working.

Truckee River – The release has been reduced to 256 cfs from the dam at Tahoe City. In the Truckee area the river is running at around 258-cfs rate. Fishing in the upper section between Tahoe City and Truckee has been fair overall. Seasoned anglers are doing well on the Truckee. Most fish being caught in the special regulation areas are being caught on nymphs, emergers, dries or streamers. A streamer this time of year can produce well.

Other Waters – Jackson Meadows reservoir is good. Davis and Frenchman lakes are also very good.

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