Smaller flies for fall fishing

IveofIone

Premium
For years I have downsized my flies for fall fishing. By this time of year fish have seen every iteration of wooly buggers and leeches known to man or fish and seem somewhat indifferent to them. I stumbled on to this years ago while fishing Coffeepot in late Sept. Patterns that had worked well in April and May were doing nothing so I switched over to my favorite Halfbacks in size 12 and 14. Immediate success. Subsequent experimenting with them found that they were highly effective on a fast sinking line (Type 6 or 7) fished in very deep water. CP is over 100 feet deep in places and letting out a lot of line in 30-80' of water and just barely moving the fly got great results. I was amazed by how big fish found those tiny flies in all of that water but find them they did.

I'm still fishing tiny flies on fast sinking lines and being surprised at what I often dredge up. And the Halfback is still my go-to pattern but because of the fragility of the fly I have been trying to devise something a little more durable yet still effective. What I have come up with is incredibly simple but is turning out to be a real fish getter. As always for these smaller nymph style flies I use the excellent Mustad S82-3906B hooks. They are 3X heavy and 2X long, come out of the package dead sharp and they hook and hold.

I tie a tiny red wool tag on the hook and a piece of thin gold wire. Then I wrap a body of peacock herl that is twisted with the tying thread for more durability and ribbed with the wire to build a stout body. Then a partridge soft hackle palmered at the front and swept back over the body. That's it, there is nothing more to it. The fly proved itself again yesterday hooking 5 of the 6 fish I caught on a size 16. I'll tie a few more in a size 14 and in the spring will try the same pattern in a 12. My wooly buggers are getting the rest of the season off. I tried some wooly buggers yesterday, some level leeches and some caddis pupae patterns but got nothing. The little red butt soft hackle did all of the heavy lifting and one fish came on a halfback. Nothing bigger than a 14.
 

Smalma

Active Member
Excellent suggestion!

For decades smaller soft hackles (18 to 12s) have been an important part of lake fly box. In addition to the peacock body I have success with a olive dubbed body as a searching pattern. In the last few years when adding a butt to the tie I have been using some UV red thread. This year during the late spring and summer I have had really good luck with a soft hackle with a chrome tinsel body and red wire rib in sizes 14 and 16s; expect it to fish well this fall as well.

Curt
 
I've been fishing conventional British and Irish Wet flies (greenwells glory, golden olive bumble, butcher, bibio, mallard and claret, black pennell, silver invicta) in sizes 10-14 and have been doing well on mounain lakes.
 

troutpocket

Active Member
This is a good reminder that fall lake fishing can be a different and more challenging game. I also often size down and use more sparse ties. I still use buggers and leeches as search patterns but generally in a #10 or 12, rather than #6-8 that I start with in the spring. Little generic nymph and soft hackles have saved my day many times!

I’ll be out this weekend on some water >3000’ elevation. I’ll probably start with a big dragon nymph but the little stuff will be handy.
 

Dave Boyle

Active Member
I've been fishing conventional British and Irish Wet flies (greenwells glory, golden olive bumble, butcher, bibio, mallard and claret, black pennell, silver invicta) in sizes 10-14 and have been doing well on mounain lakes.
I have often wondered how loch patterns and flies I used as a kid would work....I love hares ears and pt nymphs but I should dig out my black Pennels and butchers, I loved those flies. Green wells too, wickams....

It’s funny, the thinking was the butcher, as a silver bodied fly, was a fish imitation, now a chromie seems more like it esp in smaller sizes. Anyway rambling and reminiscing now, thanks for this. I’m going to try these next time out.

Dave
 
I have often wondered how loch patterns and flies I used as a kid would work....I love hares ears and pt nymphs but I should dig out my black Pennels and butchers, I loved those flies. Green wells too, wickams....

It’s funny, the thinking was the butcher, as a silver bodied fly, was a fish imitation, now a chromie seems more like it esp in smaller sizes. Anyway rambling and reminiscing now, thanks for this. I’m going to try these next time out.

Dave
I think you could do just fine fishing black pennels and greenwells in a variety of tying styles and sizes 8-16
 

troutpocket

Active Member
Well, my weekend fishing plan worked out but in reverse. I started with the small stuff but didn’t dial anything in. After taking the hint from the dragon flies that kept landing on the boat and tying on a #8 Olive Willy to imitate a dragon nymph, I was into fish the rest of the trip. I’ll try the small stuff again in a couple weeks.
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