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10. How to pick flies for small stream trout (10 of 15)

How to pick flies for small stream trout. Picking flies for small stream trout is not a matter of matching the hatch or entomology. A few flies with certain features is all you need.

Video Transcript:

♪ [music] ♪ "What flies do I need? Should I work upstream or down? How do I fish really tiny, brushy streams?" These are questions that I often get when people ask me about small stream fishing. So in this segment, we'll talk about those issues and more. Don't agonize over flies for small stream trout. Because these streams, except for spring creeks, seldom see heavy hatches, the fish don't get selective to a particular kind of insect.
Anything that floats by, that looks reasonably buggy, will probably be taken in most of them. You can use bigger flies in small streams even during the summer when most insect catches on trout streams are tiny. These fish eat a lot of terrestrials like grasshoppers and beetles, ants and moths, but you don't even need to imitate these insects specifically because small stream trout see a great variety of bugs.
The best dry flies are ones that float well because some of your casts will be roll casts, and you don't want to false cast much in tight quarters. I like stimulators, parachute Adams, foam-bodied flies, and Elk Hair Caddis for small streams. But you may have other favorites. You should be able to see your fly because small stream trout strike quickly and you want to see the rise.
And also because you need to keep an eye on your fly to make sure it's drifting properly. You know, most of the time, all you need in a small mountain stream like this is a big bushy, dry fly. But I've gone through some pretty good water, including this pool that I'm now sitting in, and I didn't pick up a fish.
I know they're here. And I've gotten just a few half-hearted rises and one small fish to this dry fly. So I'm going to add a nymph. I'm going to add about, I don't know, maybe 6 to 8 inches of 5X fluorocarbon to the end of my dry fly, put on a smaller nymph, and the dry fly will be my indicator, and they may also take the dry fly, but now I've got two choices for the fish.
The nymph dropper should be just slightly longer than the average depth of the water or even shorter because you don't need to scratch bottom with your nymph on these small streams. Often, you'll catch half of your fish on the dry and the other half on the nymph. Just as with dry flies, you don't need to agonize over your nymph selection.
Just pick a popular nymph in size 10 through 14. Use standard nymphs for shallower places, and beadhead nymphs in the deeper pools. In those slower meadow streams, trout might be a little pickier about their nymphs, and you may need to go smaller, and even change fly patterns a few times to find out what they like.