With our daily routines scrambled and a greater amount of time at home as a result of COVID-19, now is a great time to fill your trout fly boxes for the warmer months ahead. Not only can you make the most of time at home, but this is also a great opportunity to support your local economy by buying materials from your local fly shop online. Take this opportunity indoors to be productive and further your skill as a fly tier and pass the time as we wait for normalcy to return. Spring is here and so too is phenomenal trout fishing!
1. Rainbow Warrior
First up is Lance Egan’s Rainbow Warrior as it is an absolute favorite fly of mine. This thing will catch trout anytime, anywhere. This magical fly has a bright collar hot-spot and the perfect amount of flash that fish can’t seem to ignore. It is a relatively simple fly to tie that only requires a handful of ingredients and little practice. This fly can be fished as an attractor, as a second or third fly in a nymph rig, or even in a dry/dropper rig with equal success in lakes, rivers, and streams. If you aren’t fishing Lance Egan’s Rainbow Warrior, you’re surely missing out on fish! Check out the link below for tying instructions from Orvis.
2. Elk Hair Caddis
A tried and true classic that can be fished worldwide as a loose imitation for caddis and stoneflies. This pattern can be tied and fished in sizes 10-20 in a variety of colors depending on your location. With the arrival of spring and warmer months to follow, fill your dry box with a variety of Elk Hair Caddis. If you are feeling a little adventurous there are a variety of foam bodied elk hair caddis patterns that float even higher and longer. I have spent many a day with nothing but an elk hair caddis or two tied on with great success! Link to tying instructions below.
3. Chubby Chernobyl
The Chubby Chernobyl is a fantastic dry fly that can be fished worldwide throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The Chubby Chernobyl is a great hopper/attractor pattern that is relatively easy to tie. This fly floats all day with little attention thanks to its foam body construction. An additional benefit of this fly is the highly visible poly wing. The wing is traditionally tied in white but can be swapped out for different colors for enhanced visibility in a variety of scenarios. Rig it up alone or fish it with a dropper to cover more water. The Chubby Chernobyl is effective on large rivers and small streams alike and is flat out fun to fish. Trident Fly Fishing’s Chubby Chernobyl tutorial below is a great resource!
Rim Chung’s RS2 is an incredibly versatile midge and mayfly emerger pattern developed in Colorado. This pattern can be fished as a dry, an emerger, or even a second fly in a subsurface rig. This fly can be tied in a variety of colors with different materials in sizes 16-24 to match the hatch. A large database of information pertaining to the RS2 can be found at the Official RS2 Home Page. Most of us have plenty of time on our hands these days so why not read up on this time tested fly and twist up a few of your own. Instructions on tying this legendary fly can be found at the following link.
5. Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Nymph / (Bonus) Guides Choice Hare’s Ear Nymph
No trout fly box is complete without a few Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymphs. This timeless pattern has been catching fish since the 1800s and won’t stop anytime soon. It can be tied with and without a bead. There are even tricked out versions like the Guides Choice Hares Ear (pictured above). Unlike the original, the Guides Choice version includes a bright orange/red hotspot and has an added soft hackle collar that makes it a great attractor. These flies should be in every trout angler’s fly box before hitting the water.
6. Copper John
John Barr’s Copper John has it all. A bead head, a flashy wingcase, a bright body, and its heavy. Really heavy. The heft in the Copper John comes from the bead and lead-free wire underbody and makes this a great lead fly for tandem nymph rigs. The heft of the Copper John helps get your terminal fly down fast. The Copper John pairs well with a Chubby Chernobyl for an all-star hopper/dropper system that is great for luring those big browns out from undercut banks all summer long.
7. Pats Rubber Leg
Pat’s Rubber Leg by Pat Bennett is a simple stonefly pattern that has fooled countless trout. This weighted fly only requires a handful of ingredients and is sure to put fish in your net. Fishing a Pat’s Rubber Leg deep in the water column is the most effective method and can be used in a variety of combinations in your nymph rig. Like most flies, there is some leeway in terms of colors and size but I find the coffee/black version pictured above to be the most effective particularly in my home waters of Colorado. Follow along with Tightline Video’s instructions below.
8. Zebra Midge
A quick, cheap, easy, and highly effective pattern. You can never have enough midges in your box throughout the year. While it’s tempting to forget about subsurface activity in the warmer months, do yourself a favor and tie up a bunch of classic zebra midges in your favorite colors for when the dry eats stop. While almost any color is effective, I find olive green with a copper bead and copper wire to get the most takes. Check out the video below for tying instructions from Avidmax.
With a worldwide health pandemic going on and uncertain times ahead, there is one thing that I can guarantee, trout have loved these flies in the past and they will this season too. Grab some materials from your favorite fly shop online and fill your boxes with these tried and true patterns during the quarantine.
Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords and can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod check out his adventures at @evangarda.