Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Salmonfly Trout Flies
Fly anglers go nuts over a salmonfly hatch, often traveling from across the nation from eastern and southern
states to fish a hatch and sometimes, even from foreign countries. Sometimes, anglers catch the hatch in
progress, and sometimes they miss it by being too early or too late. Anglers use two different types of flies to
fish a Salmonfly hatch - imitations of the Salmonfly nymph and imitations of the adult Salmonfly. This article
covers both types of Salmonfly trout flies. Anglers use the Salmonfly nymph when the hatch is occurring and
the adult Salmonfly fly when they are laying eggs. Both flies will catch some of the largest trout in the stream.
The nymphs are huge. In some trout streams, they represent the largest non-fish food supply for the trout.
Salmonflies must have highly oxygenated water. The nymphs live in the riffles and runs of pocket water and
prefer streams with large boulders. The current has to be moderate to fast to provide enough oxygen during
the hot summer. Most of the time, the nymph stay wedged up under a rock but come out to feed, and the
smaller, immature ones occasionally get caught up in the current. They also must expose themselves prior to
and during a hatch, and it is at that time they are like sitting ducks to feeding trout. At that time, a Perfect Fly
salmonfly nymph fished on the bottom will do the trick.
For as long as three weeks, but usually about a week or two, the adults crawl around on stream-side
vegetation in search of a mate. Females then fly over the water, plop on the surface, and deposit their eggs.
The salmonfly hatch is triggered by water temperature. In most cases, hatches will begin at the lower
elevation of the streams where the water is warmest and continually move upstream as the water warms in
the higher elevations. Of course, cold fronts and the weather has a huge effect on how fast or how slow this
upstream hatch movement occurs.
As mentioned above, the female salmonflies usually don't start depositing their eggs until a few days after
they hatch. Sometimes, the banks will be covered with adult salmonflies before any egg laying has started.
Imitating the adults isn't very effective until they begin to deposit their eggs. When you begin to see the large
stoneflies dipping down and touching the water, or landing on the water, it is time to fish an imitation of the
adult Salmonfly. If you are seeing a lot of adult stoneflies and you are not catching trout on dry fly imitations
of them, most likely you are fishing a little early in the process.
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The Salmonfly nymphs live for three years as a nymph and only
a few days as an adult fly. They crawl to the shore or upon
rocks to hatch. This usually occurs during low light situations
near dawn and dusk. It is during this migration process that the
trout often gorge themselves on the nymphs. Naturally, this is
the prime time to fish an imitation of a salmonfly nymph.
The nymphs that make it to shore, or upon a rock or boulder in
the water, will climb grass stems, bushes, and other things on
the banks of the stream. An adult with wings will emerge and
like the nymphs, it is a huge insect. They range from two to two
and a half inches long. There's no problem identifying the adult