Matching the Hatch


At the beginning of the hatch, you’ll see a few flies in the air and a few on the water. What you’re most likely seeing is fish feeding just under the surface occasionally they’ll misjudge and break the surface or cause a swirl. Is it time for a wet fly fished just under the surface, an emerger pattern, or a floating nymph? What does a fly fisherman mean when they say Matching the Hatch?

Matching the Hatch involves choosing the correct fly at the height of an insect hatch, when rising trout are selective on food sources not only what species of insect they are but also the stage in its life cycle as an emerging adult, from larvae to drifting nymph, or the inactive egg-laying pupa.

Fly fishing includes arriving at a stream or lake to find the trout rising and the water covered with hatching mayflies. You catch one of the flies from the air or from the surface of the water, lay it on the lid of your fly box, and inspect it, pick a fly in your box that matches it in size, shape, and color. Then you proceed to catch lots of fish, matching the hatch.

 

Best Time to Match the Hatch

 

In June the biggest insects start to hatch attracting the biggest fish to the water’s surface. Fish in the evening hours will rise into the night creating the best hatches in some areas. Midges are typically most active in the morning during these periods, but mayfly and caddis hatches can be decent as well.

At the beginning of the hatch, you’ll see a few flies in the air and a few on the water. Fish rises will probably be scattered and erratic. What you’re most likely seeing is fish feeding just under the surface occasionally they’ll misjudge and break the surface or cause a swirl. This is the time to use a wet fly fished just under the surface, an emerger pattern, or a floating nymph. Which fly to use is 

In the winter, morning fishing can be slow due to the cold water temperatures. Nymphing or fishing with nymphs is generally the key to success when fishing in the morning during winter and is easier to identify.

Watch the water’s surface in your immediate vicinity, use a small aquarium net that you can scoop through the margins when you arrive, and repeat the exercise as you wade out further into the lake or river. Move a few small rocks and scoop the net in the water to get an idea of the insect life at that time.

In the fall season, hatches involve smaller flies, so your imitations should be no bigger than size 18. Focus on BWOs and midges and cast accurately because trout are slowing down as the winter season approaches and won’t chase very far for a small fly. Only if it gets sunny and the temperature tops 30 degrees could put you back in action.

 

 

How to Match the Hatch

 

Yellowstone River Hatches and Hatch Chart | Montana AnglerEvery trout stream insect has a Latin or scientific name and sometimes could hear other fly fishermen using these names. Latin names eliminate confusion about insect hatches between different areas of the country depending on where you are.

I’m new to the sport of fly fishing and realize that it’s not necessary to know Latin names to catch fish. It isn’t even necessary to know the names of the flies in your tackle box until it’s time to reorder them.

What is the most important thing to know about fly fishing is that you need to match the natural fly to its imitation, and you’ll be a successful fly fisherman. That’s the key!

Matching the hatch is a phrase often kicked around in the fishing world, especially among trout-fishing enthusiasts. The expression comes from the fly fisherman’s attempts to imitate natural insects with artificial imitations in order to fool fish.

What usually happens during a hatch from a couple of days to an hour before the flies hatch, the nymphs become restless and drift in the current or scamper around on the aquatic vegetation in a lake.

Near the beginning of the hatch, you’ll see a few flies in the air and a few on the water. These flies will probably be scattered and erratic. Then you’ll likely see fish feeding just under the surface occasionally they’ll break the surface or cause a swirl. This is the time for a wet fly fished just under the surface, an emerger pattern, or a floating nymph. 

What is an emerger fly pattern? Emerger fly patterns are designed to imitate aquatic insect larvae that are in the process of metamorphosing into flying insects. When the larvae mature, they ascend upwards through the water column and have to break through the meniscus on the water surface.

Some Fishing internet websites have made it really easy to find the Match for the Hatch in any water across the country by entering the information into their Fly Fishing Hatch Chart. A Hatch Chart is an easily readable graph that provides details on what insects are hatching at what time and in what bodies of water.

Most hatch charts also clarify when these insects hatch and come into their adult stages. On most charts, there will be a long list of flies down the left side. Some patterns you’ll likely see are Caddis Flies, Stoneflies, Mayflies, and Midges along with the size fly to use. Depending on the depth of the chart, they may provide specific insects that are hatching. If it does, then you know you’re looking at a bit more detailed chart. 

 

Emerger Flies

 

Emerger fly patterns are lightweight flies that are a staple for every decent fly fisherman and are designed to drift effortlessly with the current hanging just below the surface.

Emerger flies are a simple concept, they imitate emerging insect larvae and pupae making their way to the surface to molt into an adult stage which is their next life cycle. Normally, an emerger fly features a collar of soft hackle and a small, thin body of dubbing or thread. Lifecycle of insects we are very very interested in | Flysite | Pesca de truchas, Pesca con moscas, Señuelos de pesca

On those days when insect activity is high and trout are actively feeding on insects not seen on the surface, such as caddis, midges, craneflies, or mayflies. Typically, when you see trout rising they are either feeding on insects on top or just below the surface. With enough casts, you’ll figure out that maybe trout aren’t interested in taking dry flies sitting right on the top.

In calm pools and slack water, you’ll be able to see insects ‘popping’ out of the surface film. Caddis are moth-like insects that take flight the moment they break through the surface.

Often times you’ll see trout smacking the surface or even going airborne in pursuit of these emerging caddis pupa swimming to the surface. Mayflies and midges may sit on the surface a few seconds before their wings dry and can take flight. Thick bubble pads on the surface and spider webs will collect insects so these are both great places to discover any recent activity. That’s when emerger fly patterns can be incredibly successful.

 

 Emerger fly patterns are lightweight flies that are a staple for every fly fisherman and are designed to drift effortlessly with the current and hang just below the surface.

Mercury Baetis
Emerger Fly

Emergers flies are a simple concept, they imitate emerging insect larvae and pupae making their way to the surface to molt into an adult stage which is their next life cycle. Normally, an emerger fly features a collar of soft hackle and a small, thin body of dubbing or thread.

On those days when insect activity is high and trout are actively feeding on insects not seen on the surface, such as caddis, midges, craneflies, or mayflies. Typically, when you see trout rising they are either feeding on insects on top or just below the surface. With enough casts, you’ll figure out that maybe trout aren’t interested in taking dry flies sitting right on the top.

In calm pools and slack water, you’ll be able to see insects ‘popping’ out of the surface film. Caddis are moth-like insects that take flight the moment they break through the surface.

Often times you’ll see trout smacking the surface or even going airborne in pursuit of these emerging caddis pupa swimming to the surface. Mayflies and midges may sit on the surface a few seconds before their wings dry and can take flight. Thick bubble pads on the surface and spider webs will collect insects so these are both great places to discover any recent activity. That’s when emerger fly patterns can be incredibly successful.

 

Types of Fly Fishing Flies

 

There are 2 types of fishing flies:

  • Surface flies
  • Subsurface flies

Generally, fly patterns are considered either imitations or attractors. These can be further broken down into nymphs, terrestrials, dry flies, eggs, scuds, and streamers. Imitations seek to deceive fish through the lifelike imitation of insects on which the fish may feed on the surface of the water.

Imitations-don’t need to be precisely realistic in appearance but they may derive their lifelike qualities when their fur or feathers are immersed in water and allowed to move in the stream. Attractors- which are often brightly colored, seek to draw a strike by arousing an aggressive response in the fish.

  • A dry fly is designed to be buoyant and land softly imitating insects that commonly fall or land on the surface of the water.
  • A wet fly-tied in a wide variety of patterns to represent larvae, nymphs, pupa, drowned insects, baitfish, and other underwater prey imitates insects that are typically found underneath or on the subsurface of the water.
  • A nymph is a weighted wet fly that imitates the early life stages of insects on the subsurface of the water. It naturally targets fish that will feed below the surface.
  • A streamer imitates a bait fish underneath the surface of the water.
  • A Terrestrial is a land-based insect, crustaceans, worms, and small mammals could fall prey to feeding fish after being blown or falling onto the water.

 

Fly Fishing Flies Identification

 

Fly FIshing 101: Introduction to Freshwater Flies - United Women on the FlyTypes of Freshwater Flies-Nymph-Wet Fly-Dry Fly-Streamer

When an insect is born it will start out in larvae maturing then will eventually hatch into an adult fly. Until then it is extremely vulnerable to Fish who will look for this type of food source that can’t swim to take advantage of as an easy lunch.

The nymph will stay below the surface of the water where around 70% of trout feed making it a very successful fly for trout fishing. After this stage, a nymph will hatch into an adult wet fly or a swimming nymph.

When this nymph is able to swim at the surface it will shed its husk and at this time becomes a dry fly. The dry fly will stay and float at the top of the surface. A freshwater fly that can imitate a mature insect sitting on top of the water where the fish will break the top of the surface is a guaranteed hit for a hungry trout.

The next freshwater fly is called a streamer. A streamer is fished in the subsurface like a nymph or a wet fly and also is excellent for catching fish like trout. A Streamer imitates a baitfish a larger prey and bigger meal that swims under the surface. They are typically weighted and sink mimicking larger aquatic prey.

 

Trout Identification

 

 

JimGalloway Author/Editor

 

 

References:

On The Water-Matching the Hatch

Orvis News-How To Match The Hatch

 

 

 

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