Fulling Mill USA’s Top 7 Early Season Trout Flies
Here in the US, early season means finicky weather with warm-ups and cold snaps that seem to follow immediately. We’re here to help you get out of that cabin fever funk and get the line wet..
In the Eastern US, especially the Northeast, early season usually starts in early April when the ice starts to loosen its grip on our trout streams. This year has been quite an exception however. With our February and March above average with temps and little snow pack, many anglers find themselves on the stream getting into some early season action.
Before the sun’s first ray’s dance across the water in the early mornings, nymphs are a good choice to start with. Whether it be, Czech or your standard indicator rig with a single or double set up underneath. Hopper/dropper techniques with big bushy dries and slim unweighted nymphs could be just the ticket too. These are usually fished in fast, shallow and riffled water which is home to many aquatic invertebrates. At this time of year early Stoneflies are on the menu and account for many hook-ups as well as your small olives, immature clinger nymphs and midge activity are the main source of a fish’s diet – Apart from the Stones, many of these insects hatch in the faster water, ascending through the water column where awaiting fish mop them up.
As mid morning rolls in and the sun begins to warm the water, the insects and the fish start to move around. The fish disperse throughout pools finding the best lie in which food is readily accessible. This is where your small dries and emergers come into play. Once you’ve spotted a fish rising, get into a good position to make the cast, keep low, tread lightly and wait as long as you can before making your presentation… Wait, what? Allow the fish to gain its confidence and then make your first cast, this will certainly enhance your chances of getting it to take your fly.
Here are our 7 top suggestions for early season brownies:
1. O.E. Small Black Stone – Size 14
The Oliver Edwards Black Stone is such a functional pattern. Slender segmented body with slightly robust wing cases give a nice underwater silhouette of an easy meal. Ollie’s patterns have been a mainstay in the UK for many years, they’re picking up in the US and rightfully so! Deadly realistic looks combined with versatile functionally = a great pattern.
2. Riffle Nymph’s – Size 16/14
Riffle Nymphs are a fantastic choice for dredging seams and pockets in the early season as they imitate immature insects who’ve lost their grasp and get carried away with the current. Small slender dubbed bodies that have been picked out imitate gills and legs. Combined with peacock (a magic material) this is a devastating fly.
3. Quill Jig B/L– Size 14
Quill nymphs have become very popular over the last couple of years, the simple material offers a great segmented effect that proves irresistible to trout. This small nymph is ideal for fishing under a dry fly in slow, shallow water. It represents small olive nymphs which tend to make an appearance around late April.
4. Greased Lightning – Size 14
These flies are pretty close to indispensable from dusk till dawn. Being a part of the klinkhammer family of flies, these give an excellent silhouette when on the water. With a section of tippet off the bend of the hook you’ve got yourself a deadly tandem setup.
5. Zebra Midge – Size 18-14
The Zebra Midge has been a mainstay in many fly angler’s boxes since its inception into the fly tying world. The old adage of “simplicity works” plays well here. This fly is very versatile as a dropper on a dry fly tandem or on a Czech rig.
6. Peacock DHE– Size 14
DHE emergers have lent themselves as fantastic early season patterns in that they imitate struggling or crippled insects who’ve become trapped or are emerging from the film. Great for slower waters (tail-outs of pools) these flies just work.
7. Hare’s Lug and Partridge – Size 16, 14
UK spiders have been largely neglected for the better part of a century and that’s a shame as they’re incredibly versatile patterns. Fished in the traditional method on short upstream casts to rising trout, these flies deceive the pickiest of fish. Game hackle collars trapped in the film will trigger fish to strike under the most adverse conditions.