According to natural law (and contrary to the fears of some of us enduring the
northern winter this year), a warmer season will commence before long, and with it shall come another year of fly-fishing and enjoyment of the streams and rivers. I got to thinking of my favorite trout fly patterns and of new flies that I’ll be casting when the ice and snow retreat enough to let me on the water again. For those who might be interested, I thought to share some patterns that I’ve found to be effective on the high country streams of New England and the Mid-Atlantic region. You might compare the list to your own favorites and possibly come to a conclusion of sorts. In any case, here’s wishing you hikers and anglers a great new season (I’m pretty sure it’s coming!) on your favorite streams and camping sites.
The following short list of favorites is adapted from my book River’s Edge, A Fly-Fishing Realm, published in 2008 by Wood Thrush Books. Since the book’s appearance I’ve developed other favorites that I’ve tied and found to be effective on the streams and rivers of New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The book may be up for a reprint this year and, if so, I may have to add some soft-hackle, emerger, and streamer patterns to round out this basic list.
Adams #12-16. Possibly the best all-around dry fly pattern. Still.
Black Ant/Beetle #14-18. Deadly, especially during the summer season.
Blue Quill #16, 18. I find this pattern more effective in the first light of summer mornings than in early spring when the hatch begins.
Blue-winged Olive #14-20. A classic for overcast conditions or inclement weather.
Caddis (Black, Brown, Olive, Tan) #14-20. I wouldn’t be caught without them.
Green Drake #12. A late-May beauty for Kettle, Pine, Oswayo and other rivertop streams. The big trout love it.
Griffith’s Gnat #18-22. For summertime on the Genny, when the livin’ is easy, or on Spring Brook, when the goin’ gets tough.
Hendrickson/Red Quill #12, 14. When the spring hatch is on, you can’t go wrong. One of the finest.
Light Cahill #12, 14. Premier June mayfly.
March Brown #12. The big juicy fly of May, on Pine, Slate, Kettle, Genesee, Oswayo, and many others.
Royal Wulff #12, 14. Perhaps the greatest attractor pattern of all, and a better floater than the Royal Coachman.
Slate Drake (Isonychia) #10-14. My favorite late-summer, early-autumn mayfly.
Spentwing Spinner (Rusty, Cream) #10-14. Essential patterns.
Sulphur #16, 18. The strongest hatch of late May.
Trico Spinner #20-24. Love to fish this tiny, summer Mayfly, even if it’s a bitch to see.
Usual #12-16. This Fran Betters pattern (with snowshoe hare) floats like no others.
Nymphs & Wet Flies
Brassie/Midge Pupa #16-22. Fish ’em on the spring creeks, too.
Caddis Pupa/Emerger #12-18. Use before the hatch, or during it.
Egg #10-16. The basic cold weather “fly.”
Egg-sucking Leech #6, 8. Perhaps my favorite steelhead and salmon pattern.
Green Weenie #8-12. Silly, but effective to the point of being legendary.
Hare’s Ear #10-14. Could be the Number One pattern in the northern hemisphere.
Hendrickson #12, 14. When they’re not rising as you hoped they would…
Light Cahill #10-14. A summertime favorite.
Pheasant-Tail #12-16. Almost as famous and popular as the Hare’s-Ear.
Stonefly (Black, Brown, Yellow) #10-14. Also important as dry fly patterns.
Woolly Bugger (Black, Olive) #8-12. Whether on the river tops or way down on the flat lands, this pattern has probably tagged more big fish for me than any other.