Alpine Lakes Patterns

Any specific recommendations for cutts and bows in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area? Will be backpacking with my brother up there next week. I usually fish elk hair caddis and hare's ears up there.
Caught a beautiful rainbow (or juvenile steelhead, not sure) on the North Fork Stilly this morning downriver of Darrington a bit, on a Royal Wulff that lost it's wing and sunk.
Much thanks-

Ed Call

Well-Known Member

A few recommendations that were given to me by one of the shops was to make sure I had some elk hair caddis, prince nymph and gold ribbed hare's ears. When briefly in MT a shop there told me never leave for the high lakes without a purple haze/craze and some weighted dragonfly nymphs. I caught a fat brookie (thanks for IDing that fish after I misrepresented it alpinetrout) on one of those dragonfly nymphs. I have little experience with these patterns, but these are the ones that others who should know told me to have on hand.

Many of the high lakes host good scud populations. Scuds are a good trailor or fished under an indicator. Don't forget your Adams parachute, small wolley buggers in olive and black, mayfly nymphs, ants/beetles. Take a few bright bodied EHCs and peacock EHCs. Flies with gold beadheads work well up there also.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
This time of year it's easy for us to see the days starting to get shorter as the sun begin to slide back down towards the southern horizon and summer slips into fall. The fish sense the shorter days and cooler nights and that's their cue to begin packing on as many calories as possible to build up their body fat reserves for their long winter fast.

In my experience, mountain lake fish aren't very picky about what patterns they'll hit this time of year. Anything that even vaguely resembles what they're used to seeing and remember as food will work. My late summer and early fall arsenal includes EHCs, standard and parachute Adams, mosquitos and smallish Stimulator for dries. GRHEs, PTs, damsels, soft hackles, small wooly buggers and pretty much any small to medium sized buggy looking nymphs work well subsurface.

In other words, it's hard to go wrong so I wouldn't waste a lot of effort finding or tying highly specialized patterns when the usual suspects will work perfectly well.

I was just up in the Alpine Lakes backpacking for a week and found the the only really productive times to flyfish were the early mornings and late afternoons. Otherwise everything is blown off the water. I had a lot of luck on smaller stimulators. I used several other flies tied behind them (emergers, caddis, Adams, ETC) but almost all the fish took the stimulator. Good luck!!!
It was Marmot Lake, and raining mostly the whole time, but I managed a mid-day 14" cutthroat on a size 14 EHC. The fish were certainly finicky as noted by mille271. Mid-morning was bad, along with evening. Got a fat one though and she tasted good. Biggest fish on a dry fly for me, too.


Active Member
Never fished a high lake in this state, but in california, montana, and colorado, I always had black surface flies. Black gnats, black caddis, and black flying ants especially.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
A friend and I recently fished a lake at 4000 feet. As we rigged up we saw a number of risers as well as some black caddis and callibaetis mayflies which probably accounted for the rises.

My friend put in first and hooked a fish right off with a black caddis dry. But that was the last one that took a dry, no matter what we threw at them. I finally switched to an Olive Willy that accounted for 6 fish in 10 casts before a gale blew in clouds and rain, dropping visibility to just feet and put off the bite.