If you know, you know. The bugs, and in particular the Sulphurs, had something of a resurgence this year. Check out recent videos from the crew at Tightlines - they have been capturing incredible images thanks to the predictable twilight hatches. (And check out the brown from Kevin Mirzwa, caught this week on the South Branch!)
The evenings this week are emblematic of why we fish. Sometimes it is frustrating. The fish can afford to be selective and the increase in real insects decreases the chance our fly gets the attention of the target. Stick with it! Choose one target, fish or small area, and keep at it! Remember - the fish have a lot to do with fishing.
My second favorite fly is the mayfly known as Isonychia. Commonly called Isos (eye-so-s), a quick Google search will tell you they are among the fastest swimming nymphs. Imitations are generally tied on size 12, 2X long, down eye nymph hooks. The fun fact is, these do not have to be dead drifted with statue-esque posturing by the angler. Since they are such prolific swimmers, you can twitch and scuttle these through riffles to mimic the naturals. Iso nymphs from shops in the Catskills are even larger and quite intimidating to look at, but for novice angles and confident curmudgeons alike, the Iso nymph offers the added confidence of a large, protein rich morsel for selective fish.
The dun (early adult) of this fly appears throughout the day and, like the nymph, is large and can be easy to see. They are fun to put over a slow pool just to see if anything is looking up. The imago (adult mayfly) is a beauty to behold. They appear reddish, rusty brown or gray, which is why they can be referred to as Mahogany Duns or Slate Drakes. Closer inspection reveals hues of purple, dark green, and shades of red and rust.
The wings though!
Unlike the angel-like sulphurs, reaching toward the ether with outstretched forelegs, the wings of the ISO resemble another angel, fallen and singed, smokey and protuberant. The spinner fall, after the evening mating dance high above the riffles and after the females excuse themselves upstream to deposit their eggs, leaves the obsessive angler pushing the limits of park hours of operation and headlamp battery life. Spinner falls can reveal just the true number of fish in a pool or run. Pro-tip - the bubble wing variety of Iso emergers seems to work through evening hours and into dark.
Finally, on the mayfly front, I would swear March Brown patterns are still crushing fish! They typically emerge sporadically during the day; there may not be any of these insects extant on the water, but try a Henemerger and let me know if I am wrong!
Pheasant tails, zebra midges, and wooly buggers work in the wee hours of the AM until the BWOs get going. Griffiths gnats over riffles, as ever. Soft hackle and wet flies of similar size and color for the in between hours can be an effective way to cover unfamiliar water.
We have MS. MAYFLY WADERS! In a variety of sizes. KORKERS BOOTS in differing sizes have arrived and with them a wide selection of soles to suit your needs - from jetties at the shore to felt for finger width creeks.
- Roy B.