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Old 11-27-2010, 12:34 PM
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Default Match the Hatch?

Here are a few "how to" questions.
This year I was in a lot of situations of fish rising or bugs swarming near the water. I've got to admit I have no idea what they were. Never caught a bug to be able to tell. The closest I came to matching the hatch last year was seeing some hoppers on the ground.
How do you tell what's hatching? Is it experience of knowing how they fly? How the fish react? Catching them (the bugs)?
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Hi Jimmie,
Familiarity with the piece of water, time of year, along with light and weather conditions can be pretty indicative of what type of bug/bugs will be coming off. If you see nothing happening, go beat the bushes and see what flies.
I like to check spider webs at the local store or gas station too, you can really narrow it down this way.

Sometimes you will have a blanket/blizzard hatch with many species of insects coming off, AND also insects coming back to lay their eggs, that's a fun one to decipher. Sometimes the fish will seize the opportunity and eat whatever looks good at the time.

Bulges in the water with nothing more than a dorsal fin or tail breaking the surface is a good indicator of an emergence happening.

A slow lazy rise with only the nose breaking the surface often shows that their feeding on something that is not going to get away quickly such as a Spinner fall, or mayflies on a cool breezy day when their wings don't dry as quickly, making them stay on the water's surface longer.

Quick snappy rises often times can be Caddis which can break the surface very quickly and be gone, sometimes it's just Whitefish trying to get a fast meal on something too.

This certainly doesn't cover all the bases, but it's a start.....
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Last edited by fysh; 11-27-2010 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:56 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

I've only had the (mis)fortune of being in the middle of one hatch; of size 32 cream midges. Suffice to say I did not have a size 32 anything, let alone a cream midge. I wasn't able to catch one of the skin cell sized insects, but speaking with another angler a little later told me what it was.

The reason I could tell the trout were feeding off of them was because they were literally jumping out of the water to get at them.

So I think that between screening/catching the bugs and watching the fishes behavior, you should be able to get a good idea of what they are eating.
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Old 11-27-2010, 02:00 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Fly fishing is all about the bugs, and you need to learn as much about them as possible.
You don't necessarily need to know the latin or even every one of the common names, but you do need to know what to expect and how to ID and understand what you see.
Obviously to understand all this there's a bit of book learnin' and a long time commitment to observation.

Nothing beats local experience, but after you know the difference between caddis, mayflies, stones, and midges, etc., find yourself a good hatch chart.
An area chart is okay, but you really need a chart of the specific river or a friendly shop that can report specifics.
Once you can somewhat predict what's on your river and when, then you need to study up on the insect life stages and behavior .
Like a lot of things, you'll find that the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know.
It's lifetime learning experience..... and that's why people like fly fishing so much.
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Old 11-27-2010, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Hatch Guide for Western Streams by Schollmeyer is a great vest pocket book that you can carry with you.

The reality is that Sierra bugs are very predictable. A general hatch chart will help you out from the start. You just need to know a few key bugs. From there you can expand.

MP
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Old 11-27-2010, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fysh' View Post
Hi Jimmie,
Familiarity with the piece of water, time of year, along with light and weather conditions can be pretty indicative of what type of bug/bugs will be coming off. If you see nothing happening, go beat the bushes and see what flies.
I like to check spider webs at the local store or gas station too, you can really narrow it down this way.

Sometimes you will have a blanket/blizzard hatch with many species of insects coming off, AND also insects coming back to lay their eggs, that's a fun one to decipher. Sometimes the fish will seize the opportunity and eat whatever looks good at the time.

Bulges in the water with nothing more than a dorsal fin or tail breaking the surface is a good indicator of an emergence happening.

A slow lazy rise with only the nose breaking the surface often shows that their feeding on something that is not going to get away quickly such as a Spinner fall, or mayflies on a cool breezy day when their wings don't dry as quickly, making them stay on the water's surface longer.

Quick snappy rises often times can be Caddis which can break the surface very quickly and be gone, sometimes it's just Whitefish trying to get a fast meal on something too.

This certainly doesn't cover all the bases, but it's a start.....
Nice post, I learned something new.
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:43 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoscaPescador View Post
The reality is that Sierra bugs are very predictable. A general hatch chart will help you out from the start. You just need to know a few key bugs. From there you can expand.
Lot different here I guess.
Different streams have basically the same hatches, but each one has it's own "personality".
Of the 5 very local streams that I fish, all within 20 minutes of my house, each has a different "dominate" hatch dependent on the gradient, substrate, and other local influences. The fish tend to key into to bugs that they see (or want) the most, not necessarily what a hatch chart would predict.

For instance, River "Q"s dominate hatch is the zebra caddis. During the same time, there's always a pair of smaller hatches. #20 BWOs and BIG juicy #10 Brown Drakes. The fish only key in only on the zebras and never once in 20 years have I seen a Brown Drake or BWO taken. Ever, not just during a blanket hatch.

"River N"s dominate hatch is the Hendrickson, while "River M"s is the Cahill (PED). The brook across the street from my house is alive with trico's in the summer, isonychias in the fall. River #5 I fish when the damsels migrate.

A general hatch chart may be a start, but to be successful you gotta know. Only time on the water will do. You can't expect a book to tell you.
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Hmmmm.....I tie a lot of different drys, but use Adams, BWO's, Light Cahills, and Elk Hair Caddis. Charles Ritz discussed the importance of presentation, and recounts stories of anglers who use just a couple of patterns for all of their fishing. Lefty Kreh wrote an article a few years ago, and he said that he's trimmed his trout box down to the just Adams for dark flies, and Light Cahills for light colored flies (both tied parachute style). He varies the size, and carries Wooley Buggers, GRHE's, and a couple of streamer patterns as well. I use BWO's quite a bit regardless of what's buzzing around, and have very good success. Size, Silhouette, and Color, in that order, is something you'll hear quite often. It works for me.

I am interested in what is actually hatching while fishing, and do endevour to discover as much about the trout's environment as possible. There is a certain elegance to matching the hatch closely, but I don't think it's essential
all of the time.
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:32 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Like others have said, a localized hatch chart from a local shop will be your best bet. Then you can pick up a bug guide type book for the visual. Soon enough curiosity takes over and you start turning into a entomologist! I tend to stay way ahead or way behind the main hatch, and using an attractor dry or an elk wing caddis. I like the caddis best you can fill a small box with a few different sizes and color combo's and work through them till you find what works.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:46 PM
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Default Re: Match the Hatch?

Jimmie,
I spent an entire day watching fish break the surface while going through every fly in my arsenal. I caught one fish in seven hours and the constant hatch and emergence of fish was killing me. The next week I enrolled my father and I in an entomology class at my local fly shop. This was not just a turning point in my success but a complete change in my technique. Knowing that an emerger needs to be fished like an emerger and to be able to identify the rise of a fish when he is chasing emerges changes your success rate in a very positive direction.

For example, knowing that the fish are chasing an egg laying caddis tells me to skate the fly across the water, a drag free float will only get you more practice casting. Matching the hatch is just the beginning.

Coy
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