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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Salmonflies
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 7:04 am EDT
The title of this thread tells it all. I found tricos, fished them, and generally got my rear kicked by them. I brought a few to hand, missed hook sets, lost a couple, missed a bunch more hook sets, broke off on a big one, then missed even more hook sets. See a theme?

Despite me not catching much, it was fun! Really fun! I have never seen the water boil like it was. I certainly could have used the help of one of Troutnut's dry fly experts.

Anyone want to take work off tomorrow and try for tricos? I'll pick you up at the MSP airport at 5:30 and bring you to my super secret (incredibly well known) trout stream to see if we can hit the hatch again.
Feathers5
Posts: 287
Feathers5 on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 8:27 am EDT
Yep, you were fishing tricos. I love them and I wish I could meet you at the airport. I've been taught a lot about tricos mostly by my buddy, Antonio and few others, he's a dry fly crazy man. I can tell you that one mistake we all make when we see that water boiling is just to get the fly on the water haphazardly. The key is to cast to a particular fish. Provided you know what stage of the hatch on which they are keying, your chances will greatly improve. You almost literally need to poke your face in the water to see what bugs the fish are eating. Yep, if it's a challenge that makes fishing fun for you, then tricos will provide it.
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 9:31 am EDT
Mr. Lastchancefeathers5etc brings up a good point when fishing small flies in general. Pick a fish, and slow down a little on your hook set. It can be extremely unnerving when the water is covered with riseforms and you get a fish to eat. Pulling a tiny fly from a fishes mouth is extremely easy. So slowing down on your hook set will improve your hook ups. I tie a lot of my small flies on hooks that are short shanked with a nice wide gap. This will also improve your hook ups. Another thing that may help you is your positioning on the fish you are presenting the fly to. Obviously it is not always possible to be the perfect position but I find the if you can present the fly from a position where the least amount of leader is below the fish when the fly in in the strike zone without creating drag seems to work for me. Oftentimes this puts me above the fish and presenting the fly downstream and across. Things like spooking the fish or the lack of room for a backcast may prevent you from positioning yourself like this. Another thing and probably the most fun, will help you, this is doing it again and again and again! If missing a few fish is the worst thing that happens to you in a day, you're doing ok :)

Eric
Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 9:43 am EDT
Ah tricos, perhaps my favorite hatch. Search "trico" on Troutnut and you will find a number of threads with all kinds of information.

Perhaps the following ideas also will be of some use:

I see Eric was writing when I was. He recommends a slower lift on hookset, and I can't disagree with him, as he's a much better fisherman than I. I sometimes use a light quick lift when setting the hook (stop all pressure the second the fish is hooked) pausing long enough before lifting to be sure the fish has taken. Whatever you do, timing is important, and everyone figures out how to achieve that in their own way, I suppose. But be ready to drop the rod tip when a bigger fish runs to avoid break offs. Also use a light drag setting and use your hand, palm, finger, etc. to apply the right amount of pressure to the line when a fish runs. But, when you can, apply enough pressure to bring the fish to hand or net before exhausting it. Better to break off IMHO than to kill a fish. It all takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll love fishing tricos.

As Eric notes, a short wide gap hook will help with hooksets. I like the Varivas ultra midge hooks but they are hard to find. A very good alternative is the Tiemco 2488. Daiichi 1640 is another possibility. One thing about hooking fish on these little hooks is that if you get a good hookset, the hook will rarely come out.

Also check the size of the bugs on the water and carefully match your fly to that size or one size smaller.

Oh yes, and drag. It's often the biggest challenge. Sometimes a roll cast will help pile up enough tippet at the end to help with it.

Best of luck; it also helps if you don't worry about fish landed, just enjoy the rising and the fishing. In time the other things will take care of themselves.

Best of luck!
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Crepuscular
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Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 10:43 am EDT
He recommends a slower lift on hookset

I should've been more clear. I did not mean a slower hook set just waiting a bit longer before you set the hook.
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 12:37 pm EDT
He recommends a slower lift on hookset.

I should've been more clear. I did not mean a slower hook set just waiting a bit longer before you set the hook.


Yes, this is often misinterpreted - even by experienced anglers fishing small drys only occasionally. Even when the concept is understood, there is still a tendency to be slower on the set by most. The best way to prevent a snag with a fly cast into the brush is to slowly draw it out. Same with a fish - if the goal is to avoid hooking them...;) A crisp lift (usually with an angle away from the fish as opposed to straight up) is ALWAYS the best way to set up on a fish. The only variable should be on WHEN to do it. Big fish, small flies, fly first presentations down stream from the angler all generally require later sets. How late is later? No pat answer. It's like the timing involved in making a good shot on a crossing dove. As with wing shooting, some are better at it than others regardless of practice, though more experience will always help whatever your inherent talent for it. Also like wing shooting, you are pretty good some days, horrible others. :)

Perhaps a better (less confusing) definition would be to refer to it as a "delayed set" instead of a "slow set."
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Crepuscular
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Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 1:10 pm EDT
Thanks Kurt! :) You're right I shouldn't have put it that way. I was also addressing the situation. It's really, really easy to set the hook too quickly when you have giant balls of tricos and fish rising everywhere. So I think when I said slow down, I meant in general as well as delaying the hook set. Sometimes it's hard for me to keep my wits about me. I have, at times, clipped my fly off and retied it just to get my focus back. Like Warren Zevon said, I'm just an excitable boy...
Lastchance
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 3:32 pm EDT
Thanks Kurt! :) You're right I shouldn't have put it that way. I was also addressing the situation. It's really, really easy to set the hook too quickly when you have giant balls of tricos and fish rising everywhere. So I think when I said slow down, I meant in general as well as delaying the hook set. Sometimes it's hard for me to keep my wits about me. I have, at times, clipped my fly off and retied it just to get my focus back. Like Warren Zevon said, I'm just an excitable boy...


Those tricos do have giant balls.
Lastchance
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 3:32 pm EDT
I'm a funny guy. I make me laugh.
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 3:51 pm EDT
Me too, Bruce.:)

Eric -
So I think when I said slow down, I meant in general as well as delaying the hook set.

Yes, I knew what you meant, just expanded on it so that your correction wasn't lost in the shuffle.;)

Sometimes it's hard for me to keep my wits about me. I have, at times, clipped my fly off and retied it just to get my focus back. Like Warren Zevon said, I'm just an excitable boy...

Ha! Man is that the truth... Seems to hit me in direct proportion to the size and numbers of fish working...:) "Slow down, take a deep breath, pick a fish, Kurt." That's what I say to myself, usually after missing or putting a few down first.:)

Louis -

Ever tried the TMC 500U? They're hard to find now, but man what a hook for the small stuff. I like to slightly offset them.



"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 4:37 pm EDT
Yes, I think I still have a few of them around somewhere, Kurt. When I found the Varivas midge hooks I forgot about all other hooks for tricos, though I tie a trike emerger on the TMC 2488. By the way, the Daiichi 1640 comes offset right out of the box.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 6:25 pm EDT
...Like Warren Zevon said, I'm just an excitable boy...



"Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy.
"

That's what Matt says about me when I snap the 6x setting on a 20"+...

And +1 on the Varivas 2300 Ultra Midge hook
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 12, 2013August 12th, 2013, 7:21 pm EDT
Varivas, huh? Votes from two guys that know their stuff is good enough for me. I'll have to try and find some. Either of you have a link to a source?
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Aug 13, 2013August 13th, 2013, 5:53 am EDT
Varivas, huh? Votes from two guys that know their stuff is good enough for me. I'll have to try and find some. Either of you have a link to a source?


http://www.detteflies.com/varivas_2300

Just spoke with them on the phone to make sure I was giving you good info. He said they should have them within the week but since they are coming from England, they could possibly be held up. That said, he seemed to think that they would have them this week.
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Aug 13, 2013August 13th, 2013, 6:08 am EDT
Thanks for all the suggestions. In general it sounds like I need to slow down and pick a fish. Easier said than done. I am still a little shaky on how to pick a fish out of boiling water. I would try, and then another fish would come and eat. I am willing to get back out and give it another shot though:)


Louis - Thanks for bumping the other trico threads for me too! Some great information. I was under the impression that fish all but ignored the duns. Good to know I have more options on picky fish. Also good to know there so many different spinner patterns. Now to learn how to tie a single one....

In the previous threads, some mention sizing down one from the naturals. The river I was fishing is pretty heavily pressured. It seemed like I was getting pretty consistent eats on a fly that seemed to match the size of what was on the water. Is sizing down more on a case by case basis?


I think I would have been more successful had I not forgotten about benthic thrust. The offer to fish still stands, Bruce. But, now you would need to teach me the finer points of benthic thrust. You are the master, correct?

I have, at times, clipped my fly off and retied it just to get my focus back.
Luckily the brush and fish were clipping the flies for me, giving me plenty of time to slow my brain just a touch. I couldn't tie on fast enough, though, so how much did it help me slow down? Each time I went back to the water after tying on I was sure the fish would be done. Luckily, that was never the case.

That's what Matt says about me when I snap the 6x setting on a 20"+...
That's what I was thinking about myself when I nailed a strip set into the nicest fish I had all day. Maybe not 20+, but upper teens for sure. It was a fight that ended before it began. I was also thinking I should not strip set...old habits die hard.
Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 13, 2013August 13th, 2013, 7:58 am EDT
Yes, size down one if the fish are not taking your fly and it's the size of the naturals, but if they are eating what you're throwing, keep throwing it. As for duns, when the hatch starts they come very early in the morning, though as the weather cools they hatch later and later. I've had good luck on a little emerger that's not more than few fibers of hackle or partridge for the tail, a sort of fuzzy body of fine dark brown fur, and an upright clump wing of snowshoe. I tie it on a TMC 2488. There are various dun patterns out there also, and they work at times too.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Pryal74
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Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Pryal74 on Aug 13, 2013August 13th, 2013, 12:24 pm EDT
Size 30? I'll get my microscope out!

I know what you mean about old habits dying hard. I am sure you are used to driving a hook point into a hard mouth of a salmonid. Using small sizes 18 and on down, I just lift. It usually takes me a few "insert swear here" before I get it down, again. I'm glad you're back out on the water though man!
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Aug 13, 2013August 13th, 2013, 12:59 pm EDT
Thanks, Jim! I'm glad too. I had a long hiatus from trout fishing and got lucky to hit a solid trico hatch my first morning back.

I am sure you are used to driving a hook point into a hard mouth of a salmonid.
Exactly! Generally using nothing less than 12 lb. I love my streamers, but tiny dries are every bit as fun.
Lastchance
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Aug 13, 2013August 13th, 2013, 3:30 pm EDT
I am the master of benthic thrust. I practice a lot when I'm alone.
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 14, 2013August 14th, 2013, 9:11 am EDT
What I have read is.....when you can't get fish to accept your dry spinner fish it sunkin. That often is the trick that works. And I like to tie in a visible post above my EP fiber spent wings to see the fly much better. And a double trico spinner on the same shank is a neat trick that allows you to use a bigger hook like a #18.

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