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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Sacramento, CA

    Default Where do I start?

    I am new to fly selection and entomology and there is SO MUCH information out there I don't know where to begin. Are there any books you would recommend to started on fly types, selection, and entomology?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Languedoc/near montpellier
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    Start by watching flies when you fish...if you have a good assortment in you box take a fly that looks like the one on the water ...silhouette,size and matter if you don't know its name

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Northern California
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    You can make entomology as easy or as difficult as you want. If you can learn the basics of caddis, mayfly, stonefly, midge, and other insects, you are more than halfway there. Just figure out size and color, and you have your fly.

    Schollmeyer's Hatch Guide for the Western Streams is a nice pocket size reference. It shows bugs and its respective flies for their lifecycle stages.

    Here is a hatch chart from Clay Hash's website for the Lower Yuba River. You can apply the chart for different watersheds in Northern California.


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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Eastern Iowa

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    There is much to learn in this sport. In the meantime, get the top ten flies for YOUR water in your box. Nothing wrong with catching a few fish now. You can learn why as you go.

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  8. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    quiet corner, ct

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    This article here is a good place to start
    What Trout Eat - Fly Fisherman

    On top of this, I believe that it's important to realize that different caddis and mayflies have distinct behavioral characteristics and each type can be found in recognizable habitats

    For mayflies, there's 4 types
    1) Burrowers (slow or still water, silty substrate),... they're big bugs too
    2) Swimmers (still water and streams with plenty of vegetation).. all small nymphs and obviously...they swim.
    3) Clingers (rocky fast water) mid sized, dead drift.
    4) Crawlers (both swift and slow water) medium to small sized.

    Same deal with caddis but a bit more complicated. You've got your;
    (a) free living" caddis
    (c) "saddle case" makers (looks like a turtle shell)
    and (d) cased caddis, with cased caddis being the most wide spread and recognizable.

    Each nymph with their own predictable behavior.....and no Latin involved

    For a book try.. Hatches II, Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

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  10. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Broomfield, Co
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    Being newer to fishing I will give you this recommendation too as you learn the entomology side, which Ive yet to do besides having a idea what is happening based on the season and what I observe the trout doing....aka spring and they are feeding low I assume its small stoneflies and/or BWO emergers if weather says so.

    Go look up Josh Rickard website Rocky Mountain Fly Fisher and download his pdf (e-book) on confidence patterns.... you will save yourself about $4,000 in flies or tying materials

    Learn the bugs by locale, season, etc etc and then figure out what patterns cross over and you are on your way.....

    Now where did I park my little red wagon full of fly boxes since I didn't heed my own advice
    "The fish you're gonna find up here, you're gonna find; Rainbow,Cuttbow,CuttBrowns,Brownbows,RainBrowns,
    CuttyRainbrowns, Pike ,Perch"

    "Snap it" Hank Patterson

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    Learning entomology is like building and furnishing a house. You first need a solid foundation, which is very basic knowledge about trout foods. Rip Tide has given you a good start and some fundamental books can do that as well. One of the best BASIC books is Dave Whitlock’s Guide to Aquatic Trout Foods. From there you can go to more specific books but I suggest you borrow this book from your county library.

    Once you know the basics by “book learning”, it is time to get down and dirty and learn by doing. Get yourself a seine and actually find out what is in the river at the location you are fishing. Pick and kick some rocks so you can actually see the nymphs and pupa. Seine behind the rocks to gather samples. Look at what you have gathered and group them. Are there mayfly nymphs, stonefly nymphs, caddis pupa? Apply the book knowledge to group the aquatic forms of the major hatches.

    Use the seine to filter out the emergers and adults in and on the water during a hatch. Use that knowledge to pick the correct fly during the hatch.

    I built my own telescoping seine so I can catch flying insects.

    What do you do in this situation?

    Get a stomach pump and learn how to use it properly so you don’t injure fish. It will allow you to see what the fish are actually eating. Use it when you catch a fish nymphing and it will tell you what the fish ate which will tell you what aquatic insects are present in the waters you are fishing.

    Here’s a start on learning about Stomach Pumps:

    fishing emergers

    Then start “filling the rooms of the house.” Like a house, a river has rooms. These rooms are the different types of river habitat from the fastest to the slowest flows. They are rapids, riffles, runs, pools, and flats.

    By filling the rooms, I mean learn what types of insects live in each “room”of the river. Stoneflies, for example, like very fast waters that have a rocky bottom. hence the name stoneflies. Mayflies have adapted by changing their body shape so you have the the clingers, crawlers, swimmers, and burrowers that Riptide has written about. Clinger have flat bodies so they can cling to substrate in the fastest flows. Crawlers inhabit fast water but not as fast as the clingers. Burrowers are in the slow flow edges and flats with silty bottoms.

    Use your book knowledge and practical knowledge to read the water. When you are in a specific “room” in the river, use your knowledge to fish with imitations of the insects you know live in that “room.”

    Finally, here is an excerpt from one of my previous posts on reading water:

    The standard view of reading the water is reading the river architecture to locate fish. This is the standard approach to reading the water. It is analyzing the hydraulics of the river and the needs of the trout to determine the likely holding areas for fish. It deals with the PHYSICAL characteristics of the river. The next fundamental skill is presentation. I have read that, “Successful fly-fishing is built around two fundamental skills: Reading water and presentation."

    Allow me add a third fundamental skill. I think of reading the water as a process of 3 and not 2 parts/layers. The second layer and a third layer are reading the food and reading the approach (presentation)

    It is well known that certain water types hold certain types of food. Riffles for example hold the clinging and crawler type of mayfly nymphs and some stoneflies. Faster water with a greater gradient hold stoneflies and clinging mayflies. Rapids/heavy riffles are too fast for crawlers. Slow water hold burrowing mayfly nymphs. Vegetation can hold scuds. Water near the shore or under trees have terrestrials.

    What I am saying is that not all water types hold all types of food. You can read the physical characteristics of the river to understand where trout are likely to be, but reading the biological characteristics; the food in that location should be the next step to reading water. If we read the food correctly, we are more likely to be successful.

    The third step is reading the approach and presentation. Where is the best location to stand and what cast(s) should be made. This is highly individual and is determined by your own personal wading and casting skills and how you want to fish the water.

    As you read the physical nature of the water, simultaneously read the biology (food) which is present, and your possible forms of presentation. If you think only about the narrow definition to reading the water, you would not think of fishing a beetle or ant downstream from overhanging trees.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  14. #8
    james w 3 3 Guest

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    For where we live is where you should start!
    Those are our local bugs, and you can add a couple more later as you encounter them, like the Hex hatch at Davis Lake.

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  16. #9

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    A lot of fantastic points made and suggestions here already. I'll "second" the thoughts on seeking out hatch charts for your closest rivers. These are good indicators for most waters in the general area and most include both the common and Latin names.

    If you want to take it a step further, seek out published marcoinvertebrate studies on particular streams/rivers. Chances are good that macro studies have been done at some point on most sizable streams as even a basic "percent mayfly" sweep is an effective indicator of water quality. Here's a post that I put up a while back if you care to have a quick overview on how these studies are conducted: Holiday Inn Express Guide to Macro Study

    As far as books go, for me it started with Hatches II (Caucci/Nastasi) and Caddisflies (LaFontaine) and just built from there. If you want to poke around a great online resource, check out the many wonders of Aquatic Insect Encyclopedia: The real flies we imitate when fly fishing

    Another good online resource is just about anything posted here on NAFFF by Silver Creek (including the one here)... at risk of suggesting "stalking", search his posts, and you'll find all kinds of entomological nuggets.

    To me, knowing the complete habits/life cycles of the insects that the trout I am trying to dupe with feathers is very important. To a lot (most) of my friends, they're content with green ones, yellow ones, gray ones, etc... and that's fine, but they sure do seem to ask a lot of questions.

    A recent documentary (Rock Icons, VH1 Classic) that I watched featuring Geddy Lee from Rush summed up things quite well. Apparently Geddy takes a lot of loving abuse from his friends about how engrossed he gets in his hobbies, to which he replied, "We live in a fascinating world, and there's a lot to learn. I want to learn as much as I possibly can about the things that turn me on. AND I LIVE BY THAT!"

    And that's my approach to fly fishing (and life) as well, it fascinates me, and I need to know all that I can about it.

    "We fish for pleasure; I for mine, you for yours." -James Leisenring

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  18. #10

    Default Re: Where do I start?

    Just to follow up on the macro-study idea... I just looked under Sacramento, CA and came up with these (and there are many, many others as well).

    San Joaquin River Drainages:

    Sacramento River (Keswick Dam to Battle Creek):

    Another for San Joaquin Watershed:

    Lower Sacramento River:

    "We fish for pleasure; I for mine, you for yours." -James Leisenring

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