Small Nymph Refresher–Mayflies

by Danie Erasmus

Mayflies make up a major portion of the small nymphs trout feed on and they become prey in a number of situations. Trout feed opportunistically on struggling nymphs that are swept downstream by fast water. Mayfly nymphs also exhibit a behaviour called dispersal drifts, when they let go of the river bottom en masse and drift downstream to find new habitat. These migrations peak in early morning and early evening, increasing their exposure to trout during those times. Nymphs are also susceptible when emerging, as many species swim to the surface to emerge.  

 Mayfly nymphs occupy a wide variety of habitats and water-types including riffles, runs, back-eddies and pools. In streams mayfly nymphs have adapted to either cling or crawl among the rocks, or to swim and dart from rock to rock in the fast current.  

 Clinger and crawler nymphs tend to occupy faster water in riffles and runs. These nymphs are flat, stout and wide so that they can cling to and live among rocks without easily being swept away. Effective fly patterns imitating these nymphs should have the same wide and stout profile, and should be heavily weighted. This shape is convenient for fly tiers as it allows for the inclusion of over-sized beads and lead wire to help these flies sink faster.  

 Swimming mayfly nymphs, such as those belonging to the Baetidae family, inhabit both fast and slow water. Nymph imitations of these should be slender, which means there isn’t room for a lot of weight to be added. However, you can cheat a bit and use oversized bead-heads with slim bodies, or the very popular Perdigon Nymph. To fish these flies effectively, focus on slower runs. 

Chan’s Early Season Stillwater Tip #4

Even fishing a lake while the ice is receding may require a variety of fly lines, so make sure your kit bag has the essential lines from the very first trip of the season.  Floating, hover, intermediate and faster sinking lines in type 3, 5 and 7 will cover any fishing tactic required in your trout lakes. Trout are not normally very leader shy in the early spring as the intense insect hatches have not begun. Carry spools of good quality 3X, 4X and 5X monofilament or fluorocarbon tippet. 

Chan’s Early Season Stillwater Tip #3

Early mornings and the last couple of hours before dark are often very good times to fish lakes during the ice-off period. It takes fish time to get accustomed to the brighter daytime light after spending months in the dark, and thus are often more active in lower light conditions. Plan one of your fishing days to stay for the evening bite. It may become a regular routine during the early fishing season.  Again, watch for the signs of moving fish which increase as light levels wane. Use patterns that have some flash or make noise when retrieved through the water. Palmer-hackled patterns like Woolly Buggers, bead-head leeches, bead-head scuds, and rubber-legged boatman and backswimmers are all good choices. Fan-cast each area that you fish. There may be a small group of fish concentrated over a tiny piece of real estate that aren’t willing to wander too far in search of food. If there is no action or interest after 15 to 20 minutes, move on to another part of the shoal or another part of the lake.  

Chan’s Early Season Stillwater Tip #2

Think outside the box regarding early season fly-patterns. The water is cold and there are minimal if any aquatic insect emergences. Trout will aggressively chase flies that are suggestive of such basic food items as scuds, leeches, dragonflies, damselflies, water boatman and backswimmers. Don’t be afraid to cast and quick-strip flies on intermediate to even type-5 full-sinking lines in water three-to six-feet deep. Attractor patterns such as Blobs, Boobies and Fabs can also work well at ice off, perhaps because fish often feed on readily available zooplankton which are often found in large clusters or concentrations. These brightly coloured patterns definitely work when fish are feeding on daphnia or cyclops, both common zooplanktons. Suspending orange or pink Blobs under an indicator can be an effective early season tactic. 

The Latest in RIO’s “How To” Series

RIO–The sixth episode of season two of RIO’s “How To” series is “How To Choose a RIO Trout Line”, and features RIO sales manager Zack Dalton explaining the differences between the various floating trout fly lines that RIO has to offer. In this film Zack gives a clear and succinct description of each fly line’s properties, and talks about the differences in the fly line taper, weight distribution and key design points.

If you want to dial in the perfect trout fly line for your next day on the water, or are confused by the many fly line options that are available on the market, this film will be an invaluable resource.

An Early Season Stillwater Tip from Brian Chan

Pay attention to the shallowest areas of the shoals or littoral zones. Trout come into water just a few feet deep to chase down scuds, water boatman, juvenile damselfly nymphs and leeches. Prime shallow-water feeding areas will have some remnants of green plant growth on the bottom and might be near stands of cattails or longstem bulrush. This makes ideal habitat for the prime aquatic invertebrate food sources. Watch for fish moving in openings within stands of bulrush and cattails. In many of the most productive lakes the trout are found in shallow water for another reason: the way the oxygen is most concentrated. The lake water is still stratified at ice-off and for a number of days after. Oxygen levels in the deep water may not be sufficient to support fish life due to the considerable anaerobic decomposition of plant and other organic matter during the iced-over period. The shallow areas of the lake are mixed by wind action and oxygen levels increase. This fishing situation is known as pre-spring turnover. Consider the direction of the prevailing wind and try fishing the downwind shoal areas. A warm wind increases the surface temperatures in shallow water and can dislodge scuds and other invertebrates and concentrate them in those wind-swept areas. 

Gear Review: Cortland’s MKII Competition Series

The Fly Fusion team tested the stillwater and nymph rods in Cortland’s new MKII Competition Series.  Testers found the MKII Lake Rod (a 10ft, 6-wt) to perform very well on many different levels. The length of the rod provided a few advantages for the stillwater angling environment. It handled long leaders well and also provided extra leverage when sitting closer to the water in a pontoon boat. The rod also had enough backbone to handle the newer extra-weight stillwater lines. When battling larger stillwater trout, the extra length allowed for better control of the fish, which was critical when close to a doubled-anchored boat. The Fly Fusion team also enjoyed testing the 10’6”, 3-wt MKII Nymph Rod.  This rod excels as a nymph rod. Even with the extra length it feels light and is sensitive in all the right places. It bends deeply and loads easily. The rod also is soft enough in the tip that testers weren’t breaking off fish at the hook set. The rod has a sharp-looking down-locking reel seat and a comfortable fighting butt for proper weight distribution. These rods will find a place in the hearts of the stillwater and nymphing crowd. (USD $675)  

A Case for Soft Hackle

These days, fly anglers have a wealth of flies at their disposal, but with such a focus on innovation, it’s easy to forget about traditional methods. The humble Soft Hackle is a prime example of this angling amnesia.

Read More

Yakima’s Rooftop Tent Giveaway

Oregon-based outdoor lifestyle companies Yakima Products and Poler Stuff have teamed up for the limited-edition SkyRise rooftop tent. The Yakima X Poler SkyRise is a new take on Yakima’s popular tent, featuring Poler’s signature fuzzy camo pattern.

Light, strong and easy to use, the SkyRise is perfect for weekend warriors, outdoor festivals and more. The rooftop tent sets up in just minutes and easily makes any terrain an overnight home – from rocky ground to a festival parking lot.

Thanks to the technologically-advanced materials and features, the SkyRise does more than just let people sleep off the ground: it also provides a premium camping experience, with a light tent body made of 210d nylon, a removable cover for an unparalleled view of the night sky, plus a cozy foam mattress.

“We’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to partner with Yakima, and the SkyRise blew us away. It’s our ideal for outdoor living: it’s fun, eye-catching and original, and it makes you want to get out there,” said Benji Wagner, Founder at Poler. “It was really cool to collaborate with them and find a way to add some Poler flare to the rooftop tent.”

The Yakima X Poler SkyRise is available starting this month at and select specialty retailers, as well as and the brand’s flagship stores in Portland, Ore. and Laguna, Calif.

To celebrate the launch, Yakima and Poler have teamed up with for a Spring Adventuremobile Giveaway, including the new Yakima X Poler SkyRise, a Yakima roof rack system, and some Poler favorites, including the Napsack and Rucksack. The contest runs through the end of May and can be found at Additionally, the brands will host a launch party on Friday, April 6 at Poler’s flagship store in Portland, Ore.

RIO Offers New Salmon/Steelhead Line

IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO (April 2, 2018) – Building on the success of the InTouch Salmo/Steelhead Line, RIO Products, manufacturer of fine fly fishing lines, leaders, tippets, and accessories, brings anglers the InTouch Salmo/Steelhead F/S1 with its long hover head.

This line features a long “hovering” head seamlessly integrated into the floating rear taper and running line. The InTouch Salmo/Steelhead F/S1 sinks at one inch per second and is ideal for swinging just under the surface with small, light flies that tend to skate and for windy days when the wind can affect the swing, allowing the angler to mend and control the fly at long distances. The powerful, bullet front taper ensures the lines easily handles large steelhead and salmon flies, while the rear weight distribution makes this a great line for single handed or Spey casting.

Built with RIO’s ConnectCore ultra-low stretch core, anglers will have maximum sensitivity, control, and performance. Available in WF7F/S1 through WF9F/S1, this dual tone line comes in glacial/yellow and retails for $99.99.