Blue Winged Olives

Blue Winged Olives hatch year round.

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Blue Winged Olives
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It’s blue-winged olive time again!
By: Rick Hafele

Dave Hughes took this fat rainbow on a little size 18 BWO nymph fishing the soft water
about 15 feet out from the bank.
Where would we be without blue-winged olives? These little guys pop up on trout streams throughout North America numerous times during the year, and the mid-winter to early spring hatch is one of the best. By late January hatches are starting to get good, by mid February they are typically great, and they usually continue to stay strong through March and into April. If you remember your bugology you'll know that BWOs belong to the family Baetidae and genus Baetis, and the nymphs, though small, are excellent swimmers. Plus, these little nymphs are either fearless or don't have brains in their tiny heads, because they routinely let go of the stream bottom and drift in the current where trout find them next to impossible to pass up. In many trout feeding studies, BWO nymphs often make up 50% or more of the food in their stomachs. And during a good hatch of BWOs, emerging nymphs are even more numerous in the drift and more frequently eaten by trout.

One of the key facts to remember about BWOs is that they are small.  A mature nymph in February may reach a size 16 if you’re lucky, and just as often you’ll need a size 18 to match them.  Another thing to remember is that during a good BWO hatch trout will at one point or another feed on nymphs swimming to the surface, nymphs hanging in the surface film while in the process of emerging into duns, and duns floating on the surface before taking flight.  What this means is that you will want to be armed with a series of patterns that match the different stages of BWOs during their emergence.  As you might imagine fly tiers have designed a wide array of patterns for this job.  The few I show here are ones I like to fish, but they by no means represent the only effective patterns out there.  Below is a brief summary of how the action might unfold during a winter day’s hatch of BWOs.

BWO nymphs are tiny swimming mayfly nymphs that frequently end up drifting in the current.  Little nymph patterns that match them are effective throughout they year.

Note the lighter color on the underside of the dun.  Dun patterns should match this color rather than the darker color on the dun’s backside.

This female BWO dun made it off the water but still has to molt into a spinner, mate, and then lay eggs before her life is a success.  BWO duns vary in color from shades of light brown, olive, or gray.

This is a male BWO dun, which can quickly be determined by its large reddish colored eyes.  Females always have small dark eyes.
10:00 am: Winter fishing doesn’t require an early start, and ten is a reasonable time to get on the water.  With no duns or rising fish in sight rig up with a nymph.  I like to use two nymphs and one of my favorite winter combinations is a size 12 green rock worm nymph followed by a size 16 or 18 BWO nymph.  Even with two nymphs you’ll normally need some extra weight on your leader to get them near the stream bottom.  Once you’re rigged fish this nymph combo wherever you find good looking trout water.  The soft water below a riffle is a great place to fish in the winter when trout are a little more sluggish from the cold temperature.
12 – 2:00 pm:  Duns will likely start showing up in good numbers sometime in this time frame. If it's a sunny day the hatch will likely be fairly light and short. If it's an overcast day with little or no wind get ready for a good hatch. If the day looks and feels like snow and a few light flurries drop from the sky, get set for a great hatch. Duns emerge from both fast choppy water and the slack water below riffles, but some of the best trout will be feeding in slow water along the edges of faster currents, and never pass by an eddy without taking a close look for a big trout feeding quietly below the foam line. During this period of the hatch you will need both emerger patterns and dries. While starting with a dun pattern is fine, if you aren't getting any action with it don’t waste too much time and switch to an emerger pattern. Fish the emerger in the film, drag-free, just like a dry fly.  This is fun fishing. Takes will be a gentle sip or slurp followed by a head shake. Just gently pull your rod tip to the side to set the hook and be ready for a strong run by a large trout. You'll probably be using 5x or 6x tippet, so you can't be too aggressive when playing a good trout, but don't baby them either, keep the pressure on and land them as quickly as possible.

2:00 – 4:00 pm:  Depending the day and conditions you might see a decent spinner fall just when the duns stop emerging.  These little spinners are next to impossible to see on the water, so pay attention to their mating swarms in the air.  If you see some mating swarms followed ten or fifteen minutes later by subtle rises with no apparent bugs on the water, switch to a spinner pattern.  In the winter spinner falls may also occur in the late morning before duns start emerging, so always stay on the lookout for them.
BWO Fly Patterns
A series of patterns that match the different stages of the BWO will be important to have in your fly box.  The patterns shown here include:  Winter Baetis Nymph (upper left); Thin Skin Nymph (second row left); Winter Baetis Soft Hackle (upper middle); Winter Baetis Surface Emerger (upper right); CDC Emerger (lower left); Hackle Stacker Emerger (second row middle); Hair Wing Dun (middle row left); Poly Wing Spinner (lower left); Pearl Wing Rusty Spinner (lower left).
Any day on a trout stream is a good one, but there's something special about a winter hatch of BWOs that get good trout up off the bottom of the stream and feeding like it's summer again.
Be prepared with an adequate fly selection to be able to capitalize on all stages of the hatch. These two links will take you to every thing you need:
A Huge Selection of Flies Representing Baetis Mayflies.
Even More BWO Flies.

Also be sure to sign up for Rick & Dave's Nymph Fishing Workshop, February 20.
And while you are at it, sign up for Rick's on the water trout school.

Books By Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes
The angling public really took notice of Rick and Dave in 1981 when their masterpiece, "The Complete Book of Western Hatches" hit the shelves of local fly shops. This long title was quickly shortened to "Western Hatches" in fly fisher's vernacular. "Western Hatches" was the first definitive codification of western trout stream insects in language suited to the sport of fly fishing. Until "Western Hatches", western trout fishers had to rely on books published about east coast or European hatches. Nineteen eighty one was the year that The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches opened it's doors. And the newest blockbuster, "Western Hatches" quickly became the centerpiece of it's extensive angling-book inventory.  "The Complete Book of Western Hatches" is still in print 29 years later. It's text is still valid.

Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes

Frank Amato Publications
Subject Category: Fly Fishing
Format:  Soft Bound
Pages:  223 pages
Trim Size:  8 1/2 x 11
ISBN:  978-0-8117-0472-4
Photos:  995 color photos
Illustrations:  20 illustrations

Fly fisher's entomology and fly pattern field guide. Besides teaching you about major families of insects, Hughes and Hafele describe with tables when various species of insects hatch. Specific fly patterns are suggested to imitate insects. Contains 365 photos and 41 illustrations; 24 color plates demonstrate all major insect families in various stages of development as foods for trout. Fly tying instructions are given for each. Monumental reference and educational work.

Item Title Price To Top
978-0-8117-0472-4 Book, Nymphs For Streams And Stillwaters, by Dave Hughes $59.95 SALE ENDED
978-0-8117-0472-4-B Book, Nymphs For Streams And Stillwaters, by Dave Hughes with any purchase over $100. That is 20% OFF plus FREE SHIPPING $47.96 SALE ENDED

Dave Hughes
Stackpole Books, 2009
Subject Category: Fly Fishing
Format:  HC
Pages:  384 pages
Trim Size:  8 1/2 x 11
ISBN:  978-0-8117-0472-4
Photos:  995 color photos
Illustrations:  20 illustrations

Nymphs for Streams and Stillwaters provides a sound understanding of the relationship between naturals and their imitations, and between those imitations and the trout. You'll learn what nymphs you should spend your time tying, you'll learn how to tie them, and most important, you'll learn where and how to fish them in order to catch more trout
Nymphs for Streams and Stillwaters is broken logically into four parts. The first part is an introduction to the way nymphing shapes itself with notes on streamside and lakeside observation, nymph selection based on what you observe, and recommendations on tools and materials for both basic and advanced methods for tying nymphs that take trout. The second part deals with the selection and detailed tying of all sorts of effective searching nymph patterns for moving water. The third part examines imitative nymphs for moving waters, tightly relating naturals to their imitations. The fourth part covers stillwater nymphs. Trout are ore often selective in lakes and ponds, and the things they eat in stillwaters are often unlike trout foods in rivers and streams.
Hughes takes a subject that has been considered complex and confusing and makes it understandable, presenting the information that you really need to improve your tying and your fishing. Nymphs for Streams and Stillwaters is destined to be the step-by-step reference to tying and fishing every nymph you'll ever need. Filled with good advice from a trusted master of the subject, it is the most thorough and enjoyable book about selecting, tying, and fishing nymphs that has ever been written.
About the Author:
Dave Hughes is author of more than 25 books, including Trout Flies (978-0-8117-1601-7), Handbook of Hatches (978-0-8117-3182-9), Wet Flies (978-0-8117-1868-4), Essential Trout Flies (978-0-8117-2439-5) and Western Hatches (with Rick Hafele). He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and daughter.

Item Title Price To Top
978-0-8117-0472-4 Book, Nymphs For Streams And Stillwaters, by Dave Hughes $59.95 SALE ENDED
978-0-8117-0472-4-B Book, Nymphs For Streams And Stillwaters, by Dave Hughes with any purchase over $100. That is 20% OFF plus FREE SHIPPING $47.96 SALE ENDED

Rick Hafele
Stackpole Books, 2007
Subject Category: Fly Fishing
Format:  HC + DVD
Pages:  192 pages + DVD
Trim Size:  8 1/2 x 11
ISBN:  0-8117-0169-7
Photos:  330 color photos
Illustrations:  20 illustrations

difficulty for the angler is merely that the reason is hidden some way beneath the surface.
--G. E. M. Skues

During the considerable periods of time trout spend feeding exclusively on underwater food forms, nymph fishing can be the most productive, if not the only way to catch fish. But understanding what occurs below the water's surface can be a challenge for even the most experienced angler. In Nymph-Fishing Rivers and Streams, aquatic entomologist and long-time fly fisherman Rick Hafele shares the information necessary to successfully decipher the mysteries of trout life. He starts by explaining their feeding patterns--where trout feed, when they feed, and what's available for them to eat. Sections on tackle and pattern selection help anglers sort through equipment and imitations to find the best outfit for their needs. The DVD complements the photos in the book that show various methods for nymph fishing. Also included is an angler's field guide to nymphs with details on their habitat, importance to trout, and the most effective patterns and fishing tactics to imitate them.

Item Title Price To Top
0-8117-0169-7 Book, Nymph-Fishing Rivers and Streams, by Rick Hafele $49.95 SALE ENDED
0-8117-0169-7B Book- Nymph-Fishing Rivers and Streams, Rick Hafele with any purchase over  $100. That is 20% OFF plus FREE SHIPPING $39.96 SALE ENDED

Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele
Frank Amato Publications
Subject Category: Fly Fishing Entomology
Binding Type: Soft over, 264 pages, 8 1/2" X 11" format.
Retail Price: $39.95
ISBN: 1-57188-304-5
In their first book together since their 1981 classic Western Hatches, aquatic entomologist Rick Hafele and fly fishing author Dave Hughes, combine their extensive knowledge to describe in detail the widespread and diverse western mayflies, unraveling their mysteries, revealing how to identify them, how to match them, and how to fish their imitations.

    Researched, written, and photographed over a period of more than twenty years, Western Mayfly Hatches covers all mayfly hatches important in the entire range of western states and provinces.  Color photos reveal the important aspects of each stage of each important mayfly hatch.  Scientifically accurate illustrations by artist Richard Bunse depict the details that will allow you to recognize key differences between species for both nymph and adult stages.  A series of fly patterns, from suggestive through impressionistic to imitative, are listed for each stage of each hatch.  The full dressing is given for each fly, and each is photographed in color by Jim Schollmeyer.

    Also included is information on collecting and observing mayflies, mayfly behavior and natural history, fly-tying techniques, presentation methods for nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners, plus much more.  Unique "hatch ranking tables" list the important aspects of each hatch, and provide a means for determining its importance relative to all other hatches.  Hatch charts show graphically the emergence period of each hatch throughout the year, and the time of day you might encounter the insect on the water being fed upon selectively by trout.

    Includes more than 350 color photographs, 75 illustrations, and more than 175 fly patterns, You'll be amazed how much information you'll discover within the pages of this book.  Western Mayfly Hatches leaves no stone unturned.

Item Title Price To Top


Book, The Complete Book of Western Hatches, By: Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele $24.95 SALE ENDED
111645-B Book, The Complete Book of Western Hatches, By: Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele with any purchase over $100. That is 20% OFF plus FREE SHIPPING. $19.96

Temple Fork Outfitters Ultimate Nymph Rod
What makes this rod so appealing is its versatility and comparatively low cost. It has a removable 6" lower handle that facilitates two-handed casting. This long extension butt can be unscrewed and replaced with a short counter weighted butt cap that balances the rod while single-hand casting. In this mode the rod is still 10 1/2 feet long, which gives the angler extra-reach for nymph fishing. This extra length facilitates longer drag-free drifts essential for this kind of fishing.
TFO 05 11 4P Length: 11'        Line: #5/6     Pieces: 4  
TFO Spey/Nymph Rod

Trout & Light Summer steelhead spey or single-hand rod.  Will throw both floating and sinking tip lines as a two-hand rod. Comes with (1) 6" extension butt, and (2) 1" counterweighted extension butts, plus a Cordura covered rod case and rod sock. Our test rod measured 11' 1/2" fully assembled with the long extension butt, and 10' 7 1/4" with no extension butt.
Rod weight: 5.1 Ounces.

Item Series Line Wt. Action Handle Price To Top
TFO-05114P  Pro 5/6 Med-Fast 2†‡ $259.95 SALE ENDED

Spey Super Reels
Nautilus CCF Sage 6000 Series Waterworks Vanquish
Super Spey Reels.
What is the best Spey Reel on the market today? Certainly each angler would have a biased opinion. We think the highest consideration should be paid to total reliability. In comparison to some saltwater species, steelhead aren't large fish. But the environment they live in stacks the deck in their favor. Steelhead reels are underwater a lot. And even when reels are not submerged, it is often raining so the reels are wet anyway. Water and disc drags don't mix very well. Water tends to change the friction coefficient in drag surfaces. As the drag gets wet, friction decreases. When the drag surfaces dry out, friction increases. The result is inconsistent tension on the line while playing a fish, which can result in leader breakage or spool over-runs. Even if the fish is landed the resulting poor performance of the reel can be distracting and down right annoying. Some anglers dodge this problem altogether by using reels with clicker tension devices, that don't change much when they get wet. Some of these reels are over a hundred years old and still functioning. This type of reel usually has barely enough drag pressure to keep from free-spooling. They don't contribute very much to tiring out a large fish. We prefer to land our fish quickly, which promotes their survival when they are released. Reels with disc type drag surfaces which are kept dry inside a waterproof housing deliver the smoothest, most trouble free performance. In other words a reel should not annoy its user in any way. They should just work perfectly every time. Reels that delivered this super performance over many fishing trips could achieve a "Super Reel" status. Nautilus CCF, Sage 6000 Series and Waterworks Vanquish have achieved this Supper Reel designation with us!

Nautilus CCF
Josh Lin whipped this nice winter steelhead with his Nautilus 12 CCF Reel...
Nautilus CCF is the most popular series of Spey Reels sold at The Fly Fishing Shop (by a wide margin). Nautilus CCF Reels feature enclosed waterproof drag systems that give years of smooth trouble free service with no annoying tendencies. All CCF Reels are Spey capable, and the wide variety of models fit every size of Spey rod/line combination from 11'-#5 to 18'-#12.
Price: $425-$600 (with a free line).

More info on Nautilus CCF Reels: 1  2  3  4  5
Buy Nautilus Spey Reels

Sage 6000 Series
Mark Bachmann with a winter steelhead caught with a Sage 2010 Reel.
The Sage 6000 Series Reels were designed by famous reel engineer Jack Charlton. These reels feature a multi-disc braking system housed in a waterproof enclosure. We've fished the 6010 model as both a Spey and saltwater reel, and it has performed perfectly. Price: $600-$700.
More info on Sage 6000 Series Reels:  1  2  3
Buy Sage 6000 Spey Reels

Waterworks Vanquish
Garry Sandstrom with a winter steelhead caught with a Vanquish V-8 Reel.
All great salmon/steelhead reels incorporate waterproof drag systems. Waterworks/Lamson has been perfecting waterproof drag systems over the past ten years. The Vanquish is by far the most innovative, techy-looking reel we've seen. It has angles and recesses found on no other reels, and when you examine them, you will find that they were all engineered for extreme function. This reel is smooth with no projections to bark your knuckles and no recesses to stick a fly line. With this reel, form follows function with no sparing of expense or time in development. The finish is flawless, and parts fit together with the precision found in German race cars. Beyond that, the Vanquish is just plain sexy looking. Price: $799-$899.
More info on Vanquish Reels:  1  2 
More information on Vanquish Spey Reels

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