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Old 05-11-2013, 08:10 PM
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Default What to look for?

First of all hello to everyone! Been checking this cite out faithfully for a while now and finally made an account. Relatively new to fly fishing, and mostly fish for trout in small streams and rivers, question is, how do you guys determine which fly to start with? Obviously "match the hatch" but if there isn't a major hatch occurring or small hatch occurring at all, how do you decide what to tie on, size and pattern?
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Old 05-11-2013, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: What to look for?

#14 soft hackle, but don't tell anyone
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Old 05-11-2013, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: What to look for?

I don't fish for trout very often, but feel the answer is the same no matter what species you may be targeting. Know the available forage & the sizes, then select based on what is there. Even when there are no hatches, there are still usually insects in various forms, such as nymphs, or possibly terrestrials depending on the time of year & where you are. There may also be various baitfishes & juveniles of the prevalent fishes in the area. There could also be such prey as crayfish, or many other aquatic animals. Just because there are no hatches doesn't mean the fish you target don't eat.

For me, because I primarily fish for bass, I'll usually start fishing with some type of streamer pattern. Bass eat smaller fishes, and they're not usually particular about what those smaller fishes may be. In some places I've fished for a long time, I know what patterns have worked the best so experience helps with fly selection, but if I was starting fresh in waters I've never fished before, I can still be reasonably sure of my selection. Bass are bass no matter where they are found.

I take the same approach when I do get to fish for trout. Most often that's in the summer, so when there are no hatches, I'll start with terrestrials, which is a good bet in my area. In some locals, specific fly patterns may work best, but until you know what those may be, it's not usually difficult to figure out what might be the available forage, simply by taking a few minutes to look around & be observant. A bit of research before hand doesn't hurt either. In this day & age, the information that is available is staggering. If you don't take advantage of it, you can only blame yourself. State Natural Resources websites are a great place to get such information.

Of course, if hoppers are on the menu & you have none, then that's something you just learned the hard way. Keep it in mind for the next trip, even keep notes if you so desire & be better prepared.
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Old 05-11-2013, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: What to look for?

My suggestion is to start with the classic attractor patterns. I have know idea what is considered a classic in MI, but you local shop will definitly be able to help you with that.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: What to look for?

Welcome to the forum! Time and repetition will tell you what patterns work best on your streams. I use a variety of searching/attractor patterns all depending on the main food source in the river. For example, on the Arkansas here in southern Colorado stoneflies of all sizes can be found year round, beatis of all different sizes and varieties can be found as well, these two examples mean I can tie on a stonefly and a hares ear or pheasant tail and know the fish will recognize them as a typical food source.

The best thing you can do to make yourself a successful fly fisherman is to take an entomology class at your local fly shop. That will give you the ability to turn over rocks and sein for insects that are currently in the river. The ability to identify the trouts current abundant food source will keep you catching fish with or without a hatch. Knowing the insects life cycle will also make you more successful during a hatch as well. For example, being able to indentify that a fish is taking an emerger instead of an adult because the of the take or splash can turn a good day into a great day.

Good luck out there and enjoy.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: What to look for?

Welcome to the forum! There are some great little streams right around Grand Rapids and some wonderful streams within a few hours drive. You live in a nice part of the country!

I'd start with checking local fishing reports if possible. I don't know that the streams right around GR are on many online reports though Great Lakes Fly Fishing Co does report on the Rogue in Rockford. Local shops should have the info so you can also check the Hex Shop on E. Paris South of Cascade Rd. These reports will tell you what flies fish might be hitting and you can start with those patterns.

All else being equal, my favorites are a size 14 parachute adams and a size 18 BWO sparkle dun for dries and an olive soft hackle for sub-surface. I'd probably tie on what I thought was the most likely dry and go from there.

I look forward to your posts.
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:27 AM
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Default Re: What to look for?

Enough has been said about entomology, so I will not get into it.

Take a fly, dip it in vodka, then fish it.

Welcome to the forum.

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Old 05-12-2013, 02:18 AM
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Default Re: What to look for?

Hi Flyboy1.
There is always a Food chain even though you mightn't see them Feeding.
As mentioned you can use some of The Traditional Pattern you can to check in the water under Rocks in The Weeds you will be surprised what's in The Water.
Then all you have to do is use a Fly similar & usually you will have success.
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Old 05-12-2013, 03:33 AM
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Default Re: What to look for?

On small streams just try some #14 royal wulff dries and go from there . I've caught trout on a lot of small streams on those even when attractor dries were not listed on the "local flies" or "hatch chart" list.

Matching the hatch means very little in general, and it means even less on small streams. You really don't need to match anything -- just present your flies well.

Also -- I love soft hackles. A #12-16 partridge and yellow will catch you trout damn-near anywhere.
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:38 AM
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Default Re: What to look for?

If I had to pick just two flies for anything from trout to steelhead it would be a bead head Prince Nymph for the wet and a Wolly Bug ger for the dry. Universal patterns for 'anywhere.'

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