Fly Fishing Hatch Charts
Trout eat a host of aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, other fish, crustaceans, leeches, worms, and other foods. The food items that are most important to trout and fly fishers are the aquatic insects that spend most of their life cycles underwater in rivers, streams, and stillwaters. They grow to maturity underwater and transform to flying air-breathing adults that mate in the air above our favorite waters.
This movement from the water to the air exposes the insects to predators such as trout and birds, and often causes a feeding frenzy. This event is called a “hatch” and is the situation all fly fishers search and hope for onstream.
During a hatch, when insects emerge en masse, trout become so focused on this one food item that they will often eat nothing else. This is called selective feeding.
“Matching the hatch”—another common term you’ll hear in fly-fishing circles—is the act of choosing the right fly and presenting it in the correct manner to fool selectively feeding trout. To do this you must be able to identify the insect, be familiar with its behavior, size, shape, and to a certain extent color, so it’s important to have a working knowledge of the most important types of insects: mayflies (Ephemeroptera), caddisflies (Trichoptera), midges (Diptera), and stoneflies (Plecoptera).
Don’t worry, you don’t need to know the Latin names of each type of insect but it may help later on when you learn to discern one type of mayfly from another and want to accurately describe the insect to fellow fly fishers. A good text on identification is Hatches II by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi, but a more up-to-date guide may be troutnut.com, which would be better named as bugnut.com because the web site is almost entirely devoted to current freshwater insect identification and information.
During your journey to becoming an expert fly fisher, you should make a habit of picking up rocks from the river bed and examining streamside bushes to identify the important insects in that stream. Some fly fishers eventually evolve into amateur entomologists and take and keep samples of the insects they see onstream with the idea of tying flies that more accurately imitate them.
Late Winter/Early Spring Hatches
Insect Suggested Fly Patterns
Midges Jujubee Midge size 20-24, Griffith’s Gnat
Blue Winged Olives Micro Mayfly size 18-20, Thorax B.W.O. size 18-20
Black Caddis Bird’s Nest size 16-20, Black Elk Hair Caddis size 16-20
Blue Quill Parachute Adams size 16-18, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail size 16-18