Five on Friday: Five Flies for Summer Trout

By: Levi Opsatnic

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Well, maybe it was just me, but that was quick, and by “that,” I mean the spring fishing season. It seemed like just a few weeks ago I was layering up and tossing BWO imitations at the rising snouts of trout. But gone are those days, and the plethora of hatches that the spring is so well known for is on its way out as well. Fortunately for us Pennsylvanians, there’s still some awesome fishing to ahead. We’ve had cooler temps than May and more rain than I expected for most Junes; and we all know that that just means more trout fishing for those of us who call a stream our second home.

So now I’ll stop reminiscing on spring and dive into five different fly patterns that are sure to get you into some fish all summer long.

1. Trico Spinner

Trico Spinner-Number 1 Image

Hook: Any dry fly between the sizes of 20 and 28

Thread: Uni-Thread UNI-Caenis

Tail: White Microfibbets

Body and Thorax: Black Superfine dubbing

Wing: Polypropolene yarn

We’ll begin small and work our way up on this list. And this leads me to a tiny mayfly that calls for quite the uproar in the summer, and that is the Trico. These little guys (and girls) are early risers; they force anglers on the stream before we’ve even been able to enjoy our second cup of coffee, but boy do they keep us on the stream while trout gorge on these minute little flies. This fly is fished like most other spinner patterns, and with the Tricos gathering in such heavy swarms, it’s generally pretty easy to find a pod of fish willing to eat this fly.

2.  Ant

Ant-Number 2 Image

Hook: Any dry fly between the sized of 10 and 26

Thread: Black 8/0

Body and Thorax: Black Superfine dubbing

Hackle: Black neck hackle

Ants are everywhere, and trout are wise enough to take notice of this, which makes them one of their favorite meals. I once read somewhere that for every human being on this planet, there are about 1.5 million ants. That’s a lot of ants and a lot of food for trout, which is exactly why I’ll fish an ant anytime I don’t see much surface activity. Fairly easy to fish, this ant pattern is sure to raise trout, and after a number of fish sink it under the surface, no worries, just fish it below the surface and get ready for the strikes!

3.  Elk Hair Beetle

Elk Hair Beetle-Number 3 Image

Hook: Any dry fly between the sizes of 10 and 18

Thread: Black 8/0

Body and Thorax: Elk Hair

If the ant didn’t give it away, I’m a sucker for terrestrials in the summer. There’s just something about chucking a non-aquatic insect into the stream and watching a trout chow down. And this beetle is sure to cause the trout to feast. Made entirely from elk hair, this fly floats incredibly well and causes a serious “plop” whenever it hits the water. I’ve seen this “plop” summon curious trout from ten or fifteen feet away to suck it down. So whenever you’re casting this bad boy, don’t be afraid to let it whack the surface, you may just be shocked at what rushes over.

4. Elk Hair Caddis

Elk Hair Caddis-Number 4 Image

Hook: Any dry fly between the sizes of 10 and 22

Thread: Tan 8/0

Body: Superfine dubbing in brown, black, tan, grey, cream, olive, or bright green (feel free to test any dubbing that matches the naturals in your area)

Thorax Hackle: Brown, tan, or grizzly neck hackle

Wing: Brown or tan elk hair

So a good deal of the mayflies have already made their appearance, but there’s still a ton of caddisflies that could hatch anytime in the summer, which is why I always have a ton of them in my vest. With over a thousand different species of caddis in North America alone, it can sometimes be difficult figuring out what you’ll need on any specific day. For this reason, I like to have a bunch of different sizes and colors in my box to prevent me from being up the creek without a paddle. Like any other dry fly, a dead drift will produce a strike, but I also like to add a little twitch in my drifts to imitate those crazy caddis’ that like to flutter their way up the stream.

5. Marabou and Zonker Muddler

Marabou and Zonker Muddler-Number 5 Image

Hook: Any streamer hook between the sizes of 2/0 and 12

Thread: Black 6/0

Weight: .020 lead free wire

Tail: Tan Zonker strip

Body: Tan dubbing

Ribbing: Gold French Tinsel

Wing: Yellow marabou and a couple strands of olive Flashabou

Head: Deer hair spun and trimmed

Streamers in the summer? Okay, it’s sort of unorthodox, but think of it this way: trout are lazy in the summer, they don’t want to expend a lot of energy without a large payoff, and what better way to taunt those trout than with a big, heavy, and meaty fly? Made with a marabou wing, fur tail, and a densely packed deer hair head, this fly moves water and pulsates like a minnow in a bucket. Fish it on the dead drift, strip it in like no other, or casually pull it back to you, whatever you decide on, the fish are sure to react.

Summer fishing can be blast, but one thing to keep in mind is that whenever the water gets a bit too warm (70 degrees and over) it’s best to give the trout a break from being pursued; maybe harass the bass and bluegills in your local lake instead. And if you do catch a trout on a hot day, please treat it with respect and fight it as quickly as you can and only remove it from the water whenever it’s completely necessary and always with a wet hand.

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