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Week of May 5th: May the Flies Be With You

A long time ago, in Macedonia far, far away…

Fly fishing was born.




In New Jersey the optimal time for fishing with flies is in May.  The water temperature and the air temperature converge and a new generation of Ephemeroptera are born.     


In the days ahead, we can expect temperatures to reach 80 degrees and overnight lows will be around sixty.  A few storms are predicted mid-week, but a little cloud cover can turn the bugs, and the fish, on.  If you are lucky enough to get out this week once, you are lucky enough!


Unless surface activity is consistent in the early hours, tiny midge patterns, olive WD-40s or black RS2, as well as micro hare’s ear and pheasant tails, up to #18 are on the menu.  Fish can come up into some fairly shallow water, even in the morning, so fish close before plumbing the pools. 


Our own Conor D. took a break from guiding to search out this impressive brown trout in the mid-morning hours before he hopped across the pond to check out the chalk streams upon Avon:




Swinging wet flies or nymphing will continue to work throughout the day. Euronymphing, and blowtorch patterns in particular, is reliable and  current flows allow for nearly all access wading in our local rivers. Of course, do not step anywhere you are unsure of the depth.  Use a probe before plunging in!


I would expect to see fish rise sporadically throughout the day.  Start counting after a rise and see how long the span is between before you decide to try a dry.  No matter the number, chances are a wet fly is the better choice.  The Hendrickson emerger, from John Kavanaugh, tied on a curved hook with a trailing shuck, was very popular one afternoon this week. Follow this with John Collin’s electric hendo nymph and hang on for a double hook-up!  


Little black caddis are a good fly to try to imitate and there are several options.  Small stonefly patterns, copper johns, and those little pheasant tails, and I mean #22 - #18, could produce and is deadly behind a sparkle pupae.


Towards afternoon and into dusk, look for the star of the show, everyone’s favorite - the Sulphur. I was out with one of my kids, casting from the bank, in the evening and they are there to be seen.  My daughter thinks they look like Tinkerbell and she isn’t wrong.  We tried a few breadline sulphur emergers, but didn’t have any luck.  It just may be too soon or we were too early.  I heard a catchy fly fishing cliche recently: “The dry fly angler arrives late and stays late.” 


There's a lot to choose from when you are selecting a fly in May.  Caddis or Mayflies; dry or wet? Trial and error is the best way to find out which works.  


Do, or do not; there is no try. 

May the flies be with you, always. 


See you out there.

Roy B. 


Local Hatches:


Hendrickson Ephemerella subvaria Light Hendrickson/ Red Quill #12-14, Hare's Ear 12-14, Hendrickson Emerger #14


Blue Dun Paraleptophlebia  Adams #14-16, Blue Dun #14-16


March Brown Maccaffertium vicarium March Brown #12


Grannom Brachycentrus Peacock Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, Henryville Special #14-16, JK's Caddis Pupa #14-16, Cased Caddis #14, Partridge and Peacock Soft Hackle #16-18, John Kavanaugh's Grannom Emerger #16


Blue Quill Paraleptophlebia adoptiva Blue Quill #16, Blue Dun #16, Adams Parachute #16, Grey RS2 #16, Pheasant tail #16


Baetis species (Tricaudatus, interclaris, levitans, etc.) Adams Parachute, BWO, 18-20, RS2 #18-20 Pheasant tail #18-20


Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. Tan Elk Hair Caddis #14-16, Green Rockworm or JC's Electric Caddis #14-18, LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-16













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