Driftless Patterns for the BWO Hatch

We like to keep our posts short and sweet, so here we go-

The first highly productive and most basic fly for pre- BWO Hatch is the Pheasant-tail (#16-18), with or without a beadhead. Its one of our many “go-to” bugs for spring time.


Once the hatch starts and you start to see a few bugs on the surface, (but there still isn’t any noticeable fish rising) throw on a Shop-Vac. Its a great emerger pattern and depending on water clarity. We use them with or without a beadhead, in sizes #16-18 .


When the fish are sipping cripples or emergers, a BWO Klinkhammer usually does the trick. A great fly for Spring and Fall Baetis.


Finally for the adult bugs, I typically use one of these two patterns. The first fly is a very basic and easy to tie pattern called a “Hi-Vis Mayfly” created by John Barr. The colors of this fly are very easy to change and I tie them in olive, grey, and blue dun.


The second BWO adult pattern (besides a parachute dun) is one that I think most skip right over. Its called a Hackle Stacker- (because of unique the tying process) this fly has a pretty low profile and is perfect for the the ultra-selective trout that we run into from time to time.


The last (but not least) is the Rusty Spinner for those spent mayfly adults. This pattern, used at the end of the hatch, is key (#16-18).


By adding a few of these flies to your arsenal, it assures that you wont miss a stage in the Blue Winged Olive (BWO) Hatch this Spring. Get outside and enjoy the warm weather!



A rare, beautiful day in an otherwise nasty Spring

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Had a chance to get out yesterday to an old favorite, Coldwater Creek. I learned to fly fish on this stream, and while it’s no secret among anglers, the scenery surrounding the creek and the drive there is unparalleled. The stream was running cloudy to off-color, but fish were eating. A little more visibility and fish may have noticed the bwos coming off and it would have been a whole different day. You could easily see that in the past week, the whole valley had been swept by flood water, grasses matted and debris covered. Trout are amazing creatures that through all that chaos, manage to hold in and just wait. The stream has really gone through a lot of changes over the course of the last year with help from the DNR to change some of the course of the stream for the better.

Took a poke at the Upper Iowa with the switch rod, fun to cast, but a little too high, cold, and dirty to be productive yet. 50s and 60s forecasted for next weekend and just in time as we take the MS Fly Fishing Club on our first trip out! And…if water holds…there will be some great pictures from Sunday from a special fishing trip. Details to come.

A quick trip to Spring Creek

Amanda and I took a quick trip to Spring Creek yesterday. Water still cloudy in spots and perhaps a little cold to get some eager takes. Had a few risers when the sun was out. Nice to get away from a hectic schedule for a bit and cast a rod again.

Spring is where we’ll be releasing our trout from my class’s trout in the Classroom project in mid May. A day packed with environmental activities for students.


I was going fishing today……

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Been planning on floating the Upper Iowa this week and flows were down in the 500’s (gorgeous) and now with the current storm pushing 8,000 cfs and the river is 5 ft higher this morning than it was yesterday, fishing went out the window. The phrase “Come Hell or Highwater” is very fitting with the current Winter Weather Warning following all of this rain we are getting! All in all the rain is great and we need it!

Dealing with Dirty Water Strategically-

Yesterday morning I was sitting at home and took a look outside and saw the clears sky knowing that temps will be rising and thus fish activity. The thought of wasting a day is not really an option with decent weather, currently with cooler than usual temps compared to last year we are having a late spring and with the majority of our snow leaving in the last two weeks I have been hesitant to travel to see the streams (from future experiences of fishing in pure mud). But anyway I thought I would give a closer stream a chance and do a little recon on stream levels and find some new water.


(Keep in mind this is how I think)

Arriving at Spring Creek in Orchard, I was pleasantly surprised looking over the bridge to see the stream bed which means its “fishable”. Taking a quick assessment of the stream it was apparent that water levels earlier in the week were about 3-4 feet higher than now and currently has 1- 1 1/2 ft of water visibility with a decent brownish tint to it when deeper, which is to be expected.

Spring Creek 4/3

In this situation my tactic was very simple, first locate a fish and second determine feeding habits by using a very visible streamer but not over sized. A good fly choice would be size #12-8’s Bunny leechs, Woolly Buggers, or Sculpins Patterns, along with keeping them one shade darker than the stream tint allowing the fly to be tracked. By fishing one pool and moving a fish or two and were not aggressively taking streamers, it was easy to tell that fish have not moved in to typical feeding lanes and are still in there high water refuge spots which would be Deep/Slow moving pools, Eddies and Back water. This little trick will save you a lot of valuable time on the water.

I quickly switched over to a nymph rig with the same idea in mind, a very visible fly, one shade darker than the tint of the water (black). A beadhead (added flash) or even a hot beadhead in colors pink or orange (these offer an added trigger reaction to eggs dropped by spawners) is a must have for spring time fishing. Also I bumped up one fly size to a #14 just to keep the fly visible and typically this is the only time of year you would need to ( in Iowa a #14 nymph in most spring creeks is fairly large and will put big fish down during clearer water situations).

Collage for blog

This rig with or without a split shot depending on pool depth, an indicator, and keeping the fly just off the bottom not bouncing, was very productive in those slack water spots and deeper pools. At the end of the day I was able to catch the Driftless Slam and a dozen fish in a couple hours of fishing. Also little added twitch to the fly here or there when the fly would stall out was another key factor in the days success. So go to your local stream in the dirty water season and try some of these steps to figure it out in a faster manner!