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Week of May 19th: Sulphur Symposium

Mayflies are everywhere near the shop in bucolic Califon.  The mild winter and temperate spring created conditions for a spectacular Sulphur hatch.  The big ones, Invaria, and the wee-ones, Dorothea.  I learned there is also a yellow baetis fly that looks like an even smaller Sulphur.  There are also tiny stoneflies, sometimes called yellow sallys (or are they their own bug?).  Regardless, if you are out fishing with a fly and wondering what to throw, the answer this past week and for a few days to come is: yellow. 

Rather than go on about the bug itself, I figure we could look at the offerings in the shop that can match just about any situation during this time of the year.


The nymph profile doesn’t change when we are discussing traditional mayfly nymph patterns.  The classic - tail, thorax, and abdomen and maybe some legs - nymph is made into a Sulphur with a color change.  Euronyphm-folk can use a perdigon with yellow flash-a-bou.  Not pictured, but highly recommended, are tiny puff midges; a bit of yellow thread, or even olive or green, and a puff of CDC in white or gray.

For my money, the Sulphur emergers catch more than dries.  That is just me. I particularly like the breadline emerger as tied by Tim Flagler in this video

The bubble wing emerger works wet or hanging just beneath the surface and even a small hackle wet fly - with a yellow body.  PMD and PEMDs with a parachute and flashy shuck works in the AM and PM. 

Finally, on top, the Invaria is best imitated with a #14 hook which the smaller Dorothea looks great on a #16 or #18.  We carry a Catskill style parachute and another with rotating wraps of gray hackle and a small upright wing.  The Comparadun is a style of fly with a broad wing that fans out like a finger nail and is made from deer hair; these seem made for those nights when the fish are eating between large flies floating along. I like small Comparaduns and PMD/EPMDs and will even fish them behind a #12 Catskill style Sulphur in the midst of a blizzard hatch when everything is hatching and fish are rising everywhere all at once. 


Lastly, the rusty spinner is available in yellow, too, but by the time for the spinner fall, I don’t really use them. Regular or egg laying spinners seem to work great.  


There is more to Sulphurs than yellow bodies, too. Small and brown or rusty wets and dry flies mimic the male Sulphur dun. 


I caught one on an Adams dry early this week and there are more caddis than probably anything else, so mix and match and wait for the hatch! 


See you out there,

Roy B.


Local Hatches Report

Morning until 11am:

Green Sedge Rhyacophila lobifera #14-16 Henryville Special, Olive LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-16

Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. #14-18 Tan Elk Hair Caddis, Tan LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-18

Little Sister Sedge Cheumatopsyche spp. Hendryville Special #18, JK's Caddis #18 Olive Soft Hackle #18

Summer Blue Quill Paraleptoplebia mollis Blue dun #18-20, Blue Quill #18-20, Adams #18 RS2 Grey #18-20


Late Morning - Afternoon 11am until 4pm:

Blue Winged Olive Drunella cornuta (#14) attenuata, cornutella #16-18 BWO #14-18

March Brown Maccaffertium vicarium March Brown #10-12


Late Afternoon-Dusk:

Grey Fox Maccaffertium vicarium (Formerly stenema fuscum) Grey Fox #12-14 March Brown Nymph #14

Slate Drake aka. Iso. Isonychia bicolor Iso Dun or Parachute #12 Iso Emerger #12, Iso Nymph, Prince or Zug Bug #12

Light Cahill Stenacron interpunctatum, ithaca, canadense Light Cahill #12-16 Hare's Ear Nymph #12-16

Sulphur Ephmerella invaria Sulphur Parachute#12-14, Sulphur Comparadun #12-14, Sulphur Emerger #14

Little Sulphur, Pale Evening Dun Ephemerella dorothea Sulphur Par. or Comparadun #16-18, Les' Lemon Cahill #16-18

Pink Cahill Epeorus vitreus Sulphur #14















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