5 Tips & Flies for Late Summer Fly Fishing
SUCCESSFUL LATE SUMMER TROUT FLY FISHING involves a different approach than the rest of summer. The most important thing to understand during late summer is the water temperature and the trout’s feeding environment. The big stoneflies and mayflies from springtime are long gone. Smaller mayflies, caddis, and stoneflies are most present and these small hatches create extremely picky fish.
Here are a few tips for your late summer fly fishing adventures:
1. Read the Water & Skip the Heat
In streams that get too warm, the trout will immediately move upstream seeking colder waters. Trout won't feed much in hot water. As fall approaches the water temps will change the feeding behavior of trout but many streams are so low at this time that they will have wide fluctuations in temperature because the low depth of the waters warm and cool quickly.
Concentrate your late summer fishing during the early morning and evening. The mayflies hatch early, caddis hatch in the evening, and many stoneflies hatch after it gets dark. Unless you are fishing at high altitudes where the water stays colder, focus your late summer efforts at these times.
2. Use Fresh Leader & Understand Leader Strength
Start by buying new leaders and tippet spools. Nylon monofilament deteriorates with time so you’ll likely want to restock to ensure you have a fresh line. Fluorocarbon leader and tippet will hold up much better but you’ll want to be sure that you use light sizes 6X to 8X since the water is typically very clear this time of year.
3. Protect your Tippet & Set Your Hook Quickly
A good hookset is essential to landing a fish. Don’t rotate your wrist when you sweep the rod upward to strike, as the resulting rod-tip velocity will break the leader at the fly knot. Instead, raise your forearm and the rod while keeping a rigid wrist. This gentle lift moves the line and flexes the rod without whipping it, thereby setting the hook without shocking the leader. Remember that such tiny hooks are extremely sharp and can be set with little effort.
4. Vary Your Cast, Play the Fish Gently & Net in Quiet Water
Using reach casts, you can make your fly presentation less visible to leader-shy trout. This means either casting across the current so that the fly lands near the trout, or down and across so that the fly lands on the far side of the feeding lane. Once your land a trout let it run against a lightly set drag without trying to stop it. When the trout stops running, work your bent rod to the side, keeping the fish off balance.
If you do land a trout don’t try to drag it up current with a light leader. Try wading to a quiet backwater section where landing a trout will be easier. Use a net to make it faster and easier to get the fly out and release them.
5. Examine Your Flybox & Change Your Flies Often
Take the time to examine your box of small flies under a bright light at home. This pre-fishing review saves you big hassles later. Use a needle to clear any obstructed hook eyes, clip away old tippet knots, and discard flies with rusty hooks. You can also add any flotant on them ahead of time.
Once you are out on the water try varying a small-sized patterns from smallest to bigger and then try using patterns from light to dark. This can help you understand what the fishing are feeding on faster than just trying to guess by random patterns that you think may work.
Here are a few small flies—usually sizes 16 - 22—that work on fussy trout.
Beadhead BWO Emerger
Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tail
Hoppers and beetles are known to stir up trout in late summer and make them strike at foam patterns. The bigger the bugs, the bigger the trout! If you see lots of grasshoppers, try using foam patterns. It works best if there is wind or after a frost.
Here are a few foam pattern options.
Tan (Southfork Stone) Micro Chubby
Black (Vader) Micro Chubby
Snake River Beetle
See more option in our blog post about Parachutes and Foam Flies
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