Fishing Emergers

Hey everyone! I recently moved down to Montrose Colorado and have spent a few days fishing the east portal of the Gunnison, which is a tailwater. While fishing there I have noticed a lot of fish in the slower tailouts feeding just below the surface. I know they are feeding on emergers, but I'm not sure the most effective way to fish these patterns. I have had some success in the past with swinging soft hackles, but have had no luck thus far with that technique on the Gunnison. If the water is real clear, sometimes I can fish the emerger by site, which has worked a few times but the fly is really hard to see and is usually very difficult for me to detect the strike. This only works when I have an elevated casting position and am site fishing to a specific fish.

I'm just wondering what you guys do when the fishing are feeding like crazy just under the surface. Whats the ideal technique here?



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I like a tiny yarn indicator tied into the tippet a foot from the fly.

Others grease the leader to within a foot of the fly and watch the leader on the surface carefully
I'm going to suggest a larger dry fly one that's easy to see with a piece of tippet tied to the hook bend and your emerger tied to that. The large dry fly acts as an indicator and you get the benefit of being able to catch fish on either fly.



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When I was fishing out east, I would almost always fish a double nymph rig with an emerger pattern trailing the nymph up to two feet behind. The hits almost always occur on the tail end of your drift just before re-casting as the current lifts the emerger toward the surface. Always had more luck with the smallest and sparest emerger patterns - RS-2, WD-40, and Caddis Pupa. I feel like emerger takes are always pretty aggressive so haven't worried too much about the indicator.


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I agree with dibling!
I have found on occasion that letting the emerger get deep above the fish and than lifting it as it gets to the fish feeding area works great! the emergers rise in the water sometimes very fast to avoid being eaten before they get to the surface. I do this on the big D in Oregon and it works wonders with viscous strikes sometimes!

I have also done this with high suspended steelhead!


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If you're confident in your emerger pattern do this.

Tie it on to a leader about 1.5x the estimated depth of the water that you're fishing. 4-5x flouro.

Put a small split shot 18in above the emerger.

Cast 12 o'clock directly out from you about 15-30 ft above where the trout are feeding and stack the line in one big mend above the drift in a straight line. The goal is to then let it sink down.

Hold about three loops of about 2ft of line in your reel hand.

Once you get to where the trout are feeding hold the line taught and wait for the emerger to RISE through the water column. You'll get a hard strike if they're keyed into it. No strike? Drop a loop and move your rod tip down to get it to sink... hold taught.... no strike? repeat...

You can usually get about three good emerger rises using this method. You'll get better at holding the line taught while also allowing the fly to rise while falling back with the current... this is the most realistic presentation and also makes for some really spectacular grabs.

I find flies with a little bit of sparkle work great for this - wet flies with ribbing.
Wow. Thanks for the great responses, I have got a bunch of different techniques to try now. This should keep me occupied for a while.

Any other Favorite emerger patterns besides the ones mentioned (RS-2, WD-40)?


Active Member
Do you know what's emerging?

A couple of years ago I fished the tailwater section of the Yampa river where fish lined up within extremely narrow channels of weeds sipping emerging baetis and midge. After some trial and error, I ended up with a pinch indicator barely five inches above my midge. With that setup, the fishing suddenly became ridiculously easy.

Good luck and let us know what ultimately works.

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