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Trout Hitting a Variety of Patterns This Time of Year
Eugene Macri

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© 2017 E. P. Macri Jr.

Trout are hitting a variety of patterns this time of year for a number of reasons.  This is the time of the year before the fall conditions really start taking hold on streams in terms of light and seasonal fluctuations.  Because of this trout hit a variety flies.  Most of the hatches are over with the exception of some Blue Winged Olives (Baetis) which hatch most of the year and a few Caddis and an occasional stonefly.

On some streams hoppers, and related terrestrials will come into their own.  Most of the time fly anglers should do well on these stream but usually don't because they are fishing the wrong flies or are using the wrong technique.  So here are some more keys to the vault on fishing right before autumn or fall really kicks in.

First realize that night time temperatures are now in the high 40 and 50's.  Freestone type streams are cooling down so trout become more active than just a few weeks ago. However, most of these streams are low unless you have had a good rain.  So the basic rule of thumb on these stream is go smaller and lighter tippets (however, when using larger flies such as hopper don't go below 5x).

Next, since most of the hatches are over here's the fly selection:

  • 1) Baetis Nymphs: Sawyer's Nymphs and similar Blue Winged Olive Patterns in size 16-22.  A couple of Baetis Dry Patterns in sizes 16-20.

  • 2)Small streamers lightly dressed! Sizes 14 and patterns like a Black Ghost or even a Maribou tied thinly.

  • 3) Use terrestrials such as foam and deer hair beetles as well as ants. The Letort Hopper and Cricket are still good patterns on any stream and will work well as a searching pattern.  All sizes will work. Have variety of sizes.

  • 4) Soft Hackles in a variety of patterns from attractor styles to standard patterns in sizes 16-20

  • 5) A couple of Elk Hair Caddis Dry Flies in size 16-20 just in case you get a little caddis action on a stretch of water

  • 6) Midges: Sizes 16-26 in a variety of colors in the larva, pupa and adult stages.  On both spring and freestone streams a lot midges are the main hatches this time of year.

For the most part these are the best patterns that you will use and so you don't need a lot for the next couple of weeks.  What you now need is the proper strategy.



In freestone streams with low waters the fish will be spooky.  The angle of the sun is just beginning to change from the summer.  Look for feeding trout against the banks and adjacent to deeper sections of water.  A good technique is to use a hopper, beetle or ant pattern to search the water.  Remember it's best to usually fish upstream and minimize your casting and motion.

Be careful and realize that trout can suck in Ants all day and unless you are really observant you'll never see them. Use a small pair of binoculars and watch the interface of the surface of the water intently.  You might be surprised at what you will find.

Once you've located the fish try this approach:

  • 1) Use a dry fly type first.  If the fish move for the fly but don't take it make sure you don't have drag. If drag is not a problem change to a smaller or larger fly next depending upon what you have on.
  • 2) If they won't hit the dry but aren't spooked by it try a small soft hackle with a very tiny shot to get the fly just under the surface. Fish the fly upstream and keep most of the slack out of the line or you will not hook the fish. Most fly anglers have too much line on the water.
  • 3) Finally go to a small Pheasant Tail or Baetis Nymph in size 18.  Fish this at all three water levels.
  • 4) If you are not getting the fish to take any of the above put a small thinly dressed streamer such as the Black Ghost. Do not use the streamer first because on many waters you may spook the fish and put them down for quite some time.


These techniques and patterns work on both spring creeks and freestone streams this time of the year and are good until the autumn winds and temperatures start their drastic change.

















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