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Matching the Hatch

by Fred Rowe, Sierra Bright Dot

It’s both the holy grail of fly fishing and it’s a two-part solution. First, you need to know what the fish is feeding on. Second, you need to have an imitation of the insect that is perfect.

Hatches are seasonal and looked forward to with much anticipation by fly fishers. Here in the Eastern Sierra blue wing olives (BWO) are the first hatch of the season starting in early February. That hatch is followed by caddis, pale morning duns (PMD), little yellow stones, callibaetis, and summer hopper hatches. In the fall fly fishers look for the October caddis, the biggest caddis in the Sierra, and tricorythodes mayflies (Tricos), the smallest mayfly in the Sierra.

Once you have identified the hatch you need an imitation that is a perfect match of the insect. The fly pattern needs to incorporate the size, shape and color of the natural, and needs to be fished the way the insect behaves. Some patterns can be bought off the shelf but other patterns can only be duplicated by tying your own flies.

I got into the fly-fishing industry as a fly tier. I’ve gotten good at tying exact imitations of other fly fishers fly patterns and imitating the insects found in the waters of the Eastern Sierra. I’ve also fished the major hatches in the Sierra with reliable success. I’ve never seen the October caddis hatch in big enough numbers to have the trout feed selectively on them. I’ve fished the Trico hatch a few times with mixed results. Recently I was tapped for my fly tying skills by  a local fly fisher as he was looking for someone to tie a fly pattern that was not available at any of the Eastern Sierra tackle stores.

He had me look at some insects from a stomach pump sample and I recognized them instantly as Trico spinners. I told him I could tie up an imitation if I had a small enough hook. I figured that the natural was a size 28 or 30. The smallest dry fly hook I have is a size 24. There might be a smaller hook, but a size 24 is small.

close up of aquatic insects and artifical fly

Trico Spinner on 24 hook

As you can see in the photo, a size 24 Trico spinner fly tucked in with the naturals from a stomach sample shows that the fly pattern is bigger than the naturals.

I tied up some Trico spinners on the size 24 hooks and took them to the water to test them out. I attached a three-foot section of 6X tippet to my leader and tied a spinner on with a turle knot. I watched several trout rise to insects on the water that were so small I could not see them. I cast over the fish with the confidence that I had the right fly. Cast after cast and the trout were not interested in my fly pattern. Several trout rose to the fly but would not take it off the surface.

close up image of artificial flies for fishing

Two variations of a Trico spinners tied up on a size 24 dry fly hook and an equivalent size 28 nymph hook.

I tried a Hot Creek trick I knew about getting a drag free drift. I cast the fly such that it landed in a puddle of tippet. This allowed the fly to naturally drift down stream. This resulted in several hits and a couple of eight to ten-inch brown trout being fooled. A stomach sample from the brown showed that the naturals were a couple of sizes smaller than my pattern.

close up image of a trout with a fly in its mouth.

A ten-inch brown trout that was fooled by a size 24 Trico spinner that was two sizes too big to match the naturals on the water.

My pattern was close, but it was not perfect so I’m back to the fly-tying table to try and come up with a pattern that is a perfect match. I tied up a few spinners on a scud hook, smallest hook I own, to see if I could get the size right and I need to take them to the water to give them a try.

I only got half of the formula for matching the hatch correct. My insect identifying skills were correct. My fly pattern is correct in shape and color. Size is off by 40 to 60% and is responsible for the fly not being the right fly.

This is the joy of being a fly fisher – fly tier in the Eastern Sierra. I will continue to return to the water until I can get the formula correct. When I do every trout in the creek will rise to take my Trico spinner off the surface.

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4 days ago

We are buried in smoke again today, so we thought it would be fun to share a little about how the names of some of the towns in the Eastern Sierra came about. Thank you, California High Sierra for the article!
californiahighsierra.com/trips/california-high-sierra-towns-the-origin-of-their-names/
Photo by Amy Leist
... See MoreSee Less

We are buried in smoke again today, so we thought it would be fun to share a little about how the names of some of the towns in the Eastern Sierra came about. Thank you, California High Sierra for the article!
https://californiahighsierra.com/trips/california-high-sierra-towns-the-origin-of-their-names/
Photo by Amy Leist

Comment on Facebook

Wow... been a good long while since I’ve been to Bishop. Their high school team was in our league (I went to Tehachapi High) and we traveled there for some football games — something like a 5-6 hour drive each way if I recall correctly. A tough team to beat also. I’m betting it hasn’t changed all that much over all these years (circa late ‘60s).

I'm so sorry the smoke is bad there still. I missed my annual visit this year. It's on my to do list for next year.

We can see it over the Spring Mountains to the West/NW here in Las Vegas. Fortunately, not much of it made it into the LV valley.

Would LOVE to move there if my hubby can find a job nearby!

We left this morning. Not only is it very smokey the smell of smoke is incredible. I don't smoke and I was ready to light up.

Nice photo. That's the real West.

Miss Bishop, Lone Pine, Big Pine, Tinnamaha campground!!!!

No, that is where the theater and Joseph’s used to be. Joseph’s has been gone for some time now. Penny’s is now Dollar General. Unfortunately a lot of vacant stores. Hi Kent!❤️

Hello and good morning. I am planning to drive up to Bishop from Southern California. The main purpose is to see fall colors. May I know if the fall colors are still at peak this coming next two weeks or is it past peak? Thank you for your advice/suggestions.

We were just there.😔

We have to leave too, I almost threw up it was so bad, got to Lee Vining and blue fresh air..take care of yourselves

so sorry for the smoke crazy time for all this year.

I spent a week here and didn't get to see the beauty through the smoke 😏

When was this picture taken, Sunday at 6 am ? never seen it this quiet.

Awesome pic! I wish a Main Street business had a rooftop deck so you can eat with that exact same view!

No smoke in the photo. ??

Is this an old photo? Joseph’s market was the only market back when we lived in Bishop in 1969.

It’s still Smokey? Where is the smoke coming from ?

Beautiful town

I always love to go threw Bishop.

Went thru Bishop yesterday, it was terribly Smokey 😪💚

I wish it was still small !

Does bishop still have a jack in the box

My favorite place ❤️

Isnt that the Old JC Penney store?

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1 week ago

Wonder if this little sheep was as grateful as we were for a view of the mountains this morning??!! Happy Friday! From Bishop, with love ❤️
#keepbishopsafe #mttom
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Wonder if this little sheep was as grateful as we were for a view of the mountains this morning??!! Happy Friday! From Bishop, with love ❤️
#keepbishopsafe #mttom

Comment on Facebook

Wonderful vacation destination

And a free thinker! This is Good!

🙏praying that it stays like this 💖

I miss Bishop so much and living there too 😢😉❤️

This is one of my favorite places to take pictures when I lived in Bishop. There’s many more.

Sigh. Bishop. Love it.

See you next week little sheep

We loved our visit to Bishop

Miss bishop fun times there

Nice!!!

Oh how I love that view

It was beautiful

Love Bishop

👍

Need snow on them things!

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1 week ago

In case you are wondering what roads and campgrounds are open, here is the latest, as of yesterday, October 14th:
www.sierrawave.net/state-of-inyo-roads-and-campgrounds-whats-open-closed-oct-14
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In case you are wondering what roads and campgrounds are open, here is the latest, as of yesterday, October 14th:
https://www.sierrawave.net/state-of-inyo-roads-and-campgrounds-whats-open-closed-oct-14

Comment on Facebook

I've been on that same road every year at this time...

It sure was smoky today.

Still hazy there.😥

I love the West.

Beautiful picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

We always used to stay at Brown’s Millpond Campground just north of Bishop. Very nice private campground with a stream running through it. So many wonderful memories from Mule Days!

Up her for 4 day little smoke but really nice trees turning colors

It's the hunting and fishing Road 🏞️🎣🏕️🌌🤠🥰

Love Bishop and the surrounding mountains !!!

Hwy 168 going to Lake Sabrina, North and South lakes?

With I was there.

maybe next weekend any hotel suggestions?

Johanna Atwell

GOD HOW I WISH I WAS ON THAT ROAD... CAREFREE HIWAY...

Lots of nice smoke.....

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1 week ago

The Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance is hosting a virtual 5K walk and fun run this year!!! Going on NOW!! You can do it from WHEREVER you are!!!Hello Friends!☺️
💥 ESCA 20th Annual 5K Walk & Fun Run! 💥October 11-17th! Virtual Edition!
Please LIKE and SHARE this flyer with your friends and family!
Thank you for your continued support! ☺️
... See MoreSee Less

The Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance is hosting a virtual 5K walk and fun run this year!!! Going on NOW!! You can do it from WHEREVER you are!!!

1 week ago

Dog days of summer or fall??!!
Last weekend we had warm temps and blue skies again. Fingers crossed we get some more blue skies this weekend!

Photo by Amanda Zhang
#NorthLake #fallcolors #keepbishopsafe
... See MoreSee Less

Dog days of summer or fall??!! 
Last weekend we had warm temps and blue skies again. Fingers crossed we get some more blue skies this weekend!

Photo by Amanda Zhang
#NorthLake #fallcolors #keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

I heard the colors have peaked in this area. Is it still worth visiting or are there other good spots to hit up?

Beautiful picture.

Wonderful vacation destination

Beautiful

Beautiful picture! Cute dog!

North Lake?

Looking good

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