Mayfly Hatch Matching
One of the very most interesting, rewarding, and potentially frustrating aspects of fly fishing is the problem solving that is required to match mayfly hatches. Sometimes getting into a fish's head is downright difficult, but, when it all works out it can be sweet. Here are some things to think about when matching mayfly hatches.
1. Remember that most species of mayflies hatch in relative abundance. This means that fish see a lot of them and get really good at identifying them. Match your flies as exactly as possible to the hatching insects according to these 4 factors in this order of importance:
- First match the shape/silhouette of the natural insects.
- Second, match the size of the insects with your fly. This is vital in most situations. In a few hatches with large numbers of naturals, fish will actually key on a fly that is a size larger than the bugs on the water.
- Third, match the movement of the naturals. 95% of the time with mayflies this means a perfectly dead drift in the right current seams. 5% of the time, usually only with large mayflies like drakes, a slight twitch in the feeding zone can draw a strike.
- Fourth, match the color of the insect last. Usually light and dark are enough but very picky fish will key on certain shades.
2. Remember to study the hatch times of the hatches on your river. Different species hatch at different times of the year and different times of the day. It is often very tough fishing just after a hatch. Use a hatch guide book to determine approximate times and try to get there early so you can be ready when it starts.
3. Don't overlook emergers. Many, if not most, of the visible rises during a mayfly hatch are actually fish feeding on emergers that are stuck just under the surface film.
4. Don't underestimate cripple patterns. Many hatching mayflies get stuck as they try to shed the exoskeleton or get blown over and partially drowned as they dry their wings. These crippled mayflies are easy pickings and the fish know it.
Don't miss your local mayfly hatches this season. Get a hatch chart or some local info and get out there and match the mayfly hatch. When it all comes together it can simply make grown men giddy.