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Author Topic: What's in my flybox (2) - Mayflies  (Read 1478 times)


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What's in my flybox (2) - Mayflies
« on: May 28, 2020, 08:17:01 AM »

To follow up on my post from earlier this week ( )

Here are a couple of my favorite mayfly patterns. There patterns are generic mayfly patterns that can match pretty much any natural by varying 1) the size of the pattern and 2) the color. Size is more important than color.

As I mentioned before if a hatch can be anticipated, you can fish a mayfly hatch for an extended period of time. While the duns may only provide an opportunity for at most a few hours or perhaps as little as 20 minutes, nymphs increase their activity for hours or even days before emerging.

The two patterns provided imitate the spring time Callibaetis hacthes common on some lakes in the Thomspson Kamloops region.

Soft Hackle Hare's Ear

Hook: #10 to 16 standard wet fly
Bead: gold (optional)
Rib: gold or copper wire
Body: hare’s ear dubbing or blend
Thorax: Peacock herl or peacock ice dubbing
Hackle: Hungarian partridge 1 or 2 turns

An excellent pattern for the pre-hatch period it represents both an active nymph and a rising 'emerger'.  A beaded version will reach  5 or 6 feet below surface when fished on a floating line and a leader of 10 feet or more.

Sparkle Dun

hook- Tiemco 100 #12 or #14 or other standard dry fly hook

Thread –8/0 tan
Tail- Grey antron or similar synthetic yarn
Wing-  Fine Deer Hair
Abdomen & thorax - Callibaetis, tan or grey dubbing

This is a slight modification of the well know Compara dun in that it substitutes a bit of yarn for the more traditional hackle or hair tails and thus makes it more of an emerger pattern since the yarn imitates the nymphal shuck. Fish take it well even when feeding on duns.

here is a short video on how to tie the Sparkle Dun:

Since the Compara dun is essentially identical I will only provide a photo. In this case the tail uses moose body hair:

One thing that is great about tying mayflies these days is that dubbing blends to match the major hatches are readily available at good fly shops. So look for a bag marked as Callibaetis or if matching another hatch - March Brown, Green Drake, Pale Morning Dun etc as the case may be...or just ask.

All these patterns are effective for many situations and I have used them successfully for March Brown and Baetis hatches in the Fraser Valley in the early spring, in Alberta and Ontario. Just match the size to the natural insect.

Many interior lakes also get a secondary mayfly hatch in the fall. They are the same species but in the fall are much smaller - more like size 16 or even 18.

Some fishing tips will provided in a follow up post.

« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 02:18:51 PM by RalphH »


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Re: What's in my flybox (2) - Mayflies
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2020, 09:11:40 AM »

I promised some tips:

Timing on spring mayfly hatches is generally late May to the middle of June. Lakes above 4000ft and farther north will have hatches in July. Once I spent a few evenings fishing mayfly hatches on Horse Lake in mid-July.
The best weather is overcast even with a bit of precipitation. Hatches can be good on days with mixed sun and cloud. On bright days with a high barometer you may do better fishing nymphs along drop offs
Focus attention on or near shoals.

Nymphs become active well before duns emerge on the surface. They will crawl on bottom structure or even rise slightly in the water column. I have read studies show nymphs may exhibit such behaviour for days before hatching.

Fishing a nymph or the Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear is often more effective particularly before duns emerge on the surface. Fishing either a dry line or an intermediate and move the nymphs with a slow long hand strip or hand twist (figure 8 ) retrieve.

Most of my experience is that duns begin to emerge early in the afternoon. Watch for bird activity, rising trout and of course the little sail boats of resting duns. Then you can switch to a dry fly. Generally duns will emerge for 2 to 3 hours.

I focus my attention of rising trout. Anchor within casting range of consistent risers if possible. Always move your boat and anchor quietly as possible. Same goes for moving about in the boat.

Presentation is generally easier on Stillwater though wind can create line drag. Basically present the fly close to a rising trout, watch the fly and wait. Sometimes trout will prefer a dry fly that is twitched or moved slightly.

When a trout takes the fly delay the hook set and don’t over power it. Give the fish a second or 2 to suck the fly in and turn towards the bottom Set with a steady upward sweep of the rod to tighten the line and set the hook.

I usually use 4x or 5x tippets. Sometimes 3x and I have never felt I needed a thinner tippet.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2020, 01:13:02 PM by RalphH »


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Re: What's in my flybox (2) - Mayflies
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2020, 09:45:09 PM »

Good stuff!
It ain't the roe bro'


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Re: What's in my flybox (2) - Mayflies
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2020, 10:09:19 AM »

Agreed. Thanks Ralph. Very informative