Spring fishing conditions in Idaho can be less than forgiving. One day its cold and you want to stay home. The next day it’s in the 50°s and you can’t wait to get out the door. The bottom-line however, is you need to be geared up for either predicament because no matter what the conditions, fish can be caught. You simply need to carry the right flies and get out. Here’s a rundown on the three spring fly patterns I can’t live without.
First let’s talk about the cold days of spring. The older I get the less I like fishing in the cold. But in spring, its these days that slow the melting of snow. Less snow melt means cleaner rivers and steady water levels. This leads to the first mayfly hatch of the season – the Blue Winged Olives.
One fly I never find myself without, especially in the spring, is the Parachute Adams. The Blue winged Olives are a small mayfly. In spring they’re usually about a size 18. You can take a trip to your local fly shop and pick from at least a dozen different Blue Wing specific patterns. But this isn’t me. I keep it simple. I fish a size 16 Parachute Adams.
Keep in mind a couple things. Trout aren’t as selective in the spring. Trout haven’t had much pressure so you don’t need to be exact with your imitation. They’re also extra hungry rebuilding strength after long winter. A Parachute Adams is a great imitation. I also love a fly with a parachute to help me see it better when my skills are somewhat rusty to start the season!
When the fish aren’t rising or I feel the need to cover water, a streamer is the way to go. My next favorite spring streamer pattern is an olive and white Clouser Minnow size 6. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cold day with good river conditions or a warm one with rising water. When fished correctly this fly gets it done.
“Fish it correctly”, I say. Well, there’s a key thing to fishing any streamer in the spring. Don’t strip it too fast. No matter the weather, the water is extra cold in the spring. Trout aren’t sprinters at this time of year. I give a couple good strips then a long slow strip followed by a complete stop. Let your fly dangle a few seconds. Often the fish catch up and eat it.
I should mention why I like olive and white. Olive is always an excellent streamer color. In fact, during summer solid olive streamers are my go too color. But in the spring, we so often have bad water conditions, the white shows up good so it’s a perfect half and half match with the olive.
Last but not least, I have a go-to nymph for spring. It’s a size 6 black-bodied-white-legged Girdle Bug. This over-sized old classic nymph rarely makes the box of more modern anglers. They are missing out! In our region spring ends with the Salmon Fly hatch. The Girdle Bug is a deadly imitation of the giant stone fly nymph.
One more tidbit to think about. Though this story sums up my three favorite spring flies, it should be known that when I’m streamer fishing or nymph fishing I rarely fish only one fly at a time. Don’t be afraid to add a dropper with my recommended Clouser and Girdle Bug rigs. My back up streamer dropper is usually a lightly weighted white Woolly Bugger size 10. And my nymph dropper is a size 14 Pheasant Tail nymph.
That sums up my favorite flies for spring. Carry these flies on your next outing and I’ll bet they lead to a few extra hook ups. Now don’t let this year’s craziness slow you down. Get out there and enjoy some spring fishing!
Jeff Currier – Winston Rods and Bauer Fly Reels Pro Advisor, Artist, Author, and Adventurer. Learn more about Jeff at jeffcurrier.com.