[Super] Small Bug Patterns for lakes?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by dibling, May 14, 2012.

  1. dibling Member

    Posts: 85
    Green Lake
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    Hey all,

    I've just started fishing stillwater and have been struggling a bit. I've been fly fishing for a year or so (mostly on the East Coast) and feel that I've got a solid handle on the stream fishing. Lakes are another matter as I'm learning the art of the slow retrieve.

    I've noticed when I'm out in Western Wa, that the primary hatches have all been micro-sized 20/22/24 (>) bugs of some sort or another. What should I be looking for in patterns to toss? Almost all of the fish I've seen have been chomping on emergers. I picked up a few chiron midge pupae (olive) this weekend and had some mild success, but what else should i be hunting for in the fly shop?

    Appreciate any input.

    - Troy
  2. Kcahill Active Member

    Posts: 894
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +262 / 2
    when they are eating near the top and dimpling the surface but all you can see are really tiny bugs coming off a Griffiths Gnat sometimes work, sometimes ill put a midge or an emerger pattern a foot or two behind\under it, and it seems to increase strikes but they normally hit the griffiths gnat.

    I am pretty terrible at any stillwater fishing that doesnt involve casting and retrieving streamers\nymphs so take it for what you will. I am impatient with dry flys or bobber fishing in lakes :D

    edit: also as of yesterday(at least on the lake i was fishing) I saw my first dragonfly of the year, tied on a dragonfly nymph and had a great day, so you may want to try that if you see some around the lake you are at.
    dibling likes this.
  3. dibling Member

    Posts: 85
    Green Lake
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    I'm considering the patience needed as a personal growth area for me. I tossed a griffith's one night and didn't get much interest, but I didn't try trailing an emerger.

    How do you tend to strip the streamers? I haven't had much luck there either. Thank you for the info.
  4. NewTyer1 Banned or Parked

    Posts: 561
    Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
    Ratings: +29 / 1
    I have fished many still waters on the East Coast. For Trout my best luck was a pattern called a Jassid, tied with a jungle cock feather for the wing. Also a white fly, can't remember the name but, I guess it resembled a white moth.

    For LMB/SMB, Streamers like a Mickey Finn, Muddlers Minnow and Poppers for surface.
  5. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,126
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +957 / 1
    Where the heck are you seeing the tiny chronies in western WA? I see them here in central WA but the ones I was used to in the western part of the state was #12's, 14's and 16's.
  6. Go Fish Language, its a virus

    Posts: 1,277
    Rheomode, Wa.
    Ratings: +87 / 0
    Soft hackles, size 16, 14, and 12,
    Different color bodies, tan, green, red,
    or black. Slow hand twist on any line
    you've got.

    Mark Kraniger likes this.
  7. Kcahill Active Member

    Posts: 894
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +262 / 2
    I fish in a raft with that i can stand in, so what i do when fishing streamers is pick the shoreline i want to fish, then position the raft so the wind will blow it down that shoreline. I cast at the shoreline and strip it out, for the retrieve i vary it until i figure out what they like on that day, but mostly a strip - strip- pause will do for trout and leech patterns. It is almost like floating down a river and throwing streamers at the bank, only in slow motion.

    For nymphs I use a hand twist retrieve like Dave said.

    What type of line are you using? Are you using the countdown method to vary depths before beginning your retrieve?

    edit: and dont be afraid to troll around the lake until you find fish, then drop anchor and fish for them. And if anyone says anything about trolling not being fly fishing just call their indicator a bobber.

  8. Mark Mercer Member

    Posts: 1,133
    port orchard, wa
    Ratings: +493 / 0
    Go Fish is right on... I've been having great success with a size 16 and 18 soft hackle, grey thread body, black wire rib with 1.5mm black bead and partridge hackle on a dry line. Works great when you see them sipping or taking just under the surface. Hand twist or very slow troll and hang on.... the takes are sometimes vicious.
  9. Jeff Studebaker Kayak Fly Angler

    Posts: 176
    Mount Vernon, Wa
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    I had this exact situation at my favorite local lake yesterday. Tons of size 20+ chiros.

    When the forage is small and numerous, I worry that a match-the-hatch fly will get lost in the crowd. So I'll tie on a minnow, leech, or a size 12-16 wet fly that resembles some other lake denizen, and hope for a fish that is sick of eating midges.

    It took me most of the morning to figure out what they wanted. Got a little action on a black bunny leech. Then I spotted a couple mayflies on the surface. No major hatch. Just a couple. I tied on a size 14 mayfly nymph and was getting bites on every cast (hookups were another matter – think I managed to set the hook on one in six).
  10. Tim Lockhart Working late at The Office

    Posts: 1,929
    Mill Creek, WA
    Ratings: +259 / 0

    Happens all the time when a food source is "too" plentiful. Use a sore thumb pattern instead of a match and often it works like a charm. Feeding at or near surface can be deceptively challenging to dial in, not to mention frustrating when they're "right there" but stubborn. Add to that, if you do manage to dial it in you might be just in time for the end of it...been there.

    Other tips (no small bug suggestions here but the price is right:D):

    An ignored dry fly might mean you're using the wrong presentation vs. the wrong pattern. If nothing seems to work, take a small nymph just under the film (sometimes 1 inch below is deadly while 1 foot below is too deep). Also, watch surface activity closely. Are they full on rising or just dimpling? Makes a world of difference to know exactly where/how they're taking food. Saw a great example at Blackmans a few nights ago. A nonweighted callibaetis nymph (a gift from Ira) fished from a floater just beneath the film at a strip was getting hit every cast while an all out dry fly was producing about 10% as well. Not surprisingly, they were dimpling. Also worth knowing, it wasn't a lot of visible activity, just one here and there, but fish were everywhere just beneath the surface feeding like mad. See KC and Dave's posts about nymphs as well.

    As you gain experience, try to interpret what you see at surface in terms of the type (rise, roll, boil, etc.), intensity, any visible food, and so forth to determine the behavior going on. What I'm getting at, for example, is that at times there may be information available (visible activity) at the surface but the best place to be is still at some level of depth. A few may come up but most of the feed can be mid way down where most of the food is getting picked off (now is a great time of year to witness that). That means it's possible, even common, to have something at the surface tip you off to activity further down. Beyond fish, bugs and birds can indicate the same thing...a swarm of swallows taking midges as they first take flight can be a great indicator of trout doing just that but at, say, eight feet of depth (there may be no visible sign of fish in this instance).

    One more, simple and painfully obvious: Let other guys provide an easy shortcut. First thing you should do is look around and pay attention to everything others are doing, right or wrong. It's all information. Goes without saying, if someone is knocking 'em dead, stop what you're doing and start taking notes. It can be really effective but not enough guys practice it. I pay attention to everyone on the water when fishing in common places. Some part of what I learn everytime out comes from watching others succeed (or not) by the methods they use. Along with that, any time I see someone hook up I try to pick up information and make use of it. Most recently, I was about to hit the road from Pass when I decided to take a last look at the boat launch area. No fish and no food visible. But what I did manage to spot within a couple of minutes was a guy hooking up at a little depth while trolling. To me that meant a lot since I had only been standing there for a short time. On that single strike of his, I got back in and took a half dozen in the next hour or so. Turns out they were taking chironomids on the move a few feet down but there were just no good signs of it (except my friend in the pontoon).
  11. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,774
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +326 / 0
    Nicely put. Fish dimpling on the surface is an example of a situation that I stock a specific pattern to fish. In my case, a #14 Rickards' callibaetis. I don't worry too much about what the actual food source is that's bringing them to the surface. I know, through trial-and-error, that if I fish that pattern in the top 6" of the water column when fish are showing that I have a very high likelihood of catching them.
    Nick Clayton likes this.
  12. dibling Member

    Posts: 85
    Green Lake
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    Thank you all for the awesome info. Some great tips to try out here!