This may be my year. If the wife doesn't get her way and completely
break me on that spring Paris trip she wants to do, I want to fish Tricos
once more. I'll need new glasses and 12 foot leaders tapered to 7 - 8X for
my 2 weight. I have some special hooks I only save for this hatch.
Geoffrey Bucknall dry fly hooks. A super wide gapped, short shanked,
turned up eye, light wire hook, size 18. I think I'll have them buried with
me. I've timed my vacation for the second and third week of July, and
with the warmer winter this year I may just hit it right.
I first fished this hatch years ago, in the early seventies, after Vince
Mariano's 1969 Field & Stream article paved the way for us all. Those
who have never read his A Modern Dry Fly Code and
In The Ring of the Rise might just as well fish with golf
clubs. His thoughts are still as valid today as they were then. He was
head and shoulders above everyone else. I never had the opportunity
to meet him. It was my loss.
There are several species of Tricorythodes, but in
general they can all be treated the same. The western fly is a size 16-18
while the eastern ones are a 20-26.
There is a definite cadence to the hatch. The males emerge the night
before and the females in the early morning. Shortly after the female
emergence occurs the spinner fall takes place, the premier event of the
day. An especially cold evening can delay the male emergence until
the following morning. Then you have a real mess. Male and female
emergence and a spinner fall all within a two hour time limit. During
these times I have seen trout feed with their noses completely out of
the water, making a clicking sound that reminded me of ducks feeding.
It takes a strong man to fish a hatch at times like these. Once the hatch
starts in mid July or so it will continue daily until the first really good
I have read that only the females drop to lie spent on the water. I don't
believe it as I have seen both the male (black Abdomen) and the female
(white abdomen) lying spent during a spinner fall, although I will admit
I have generally noticed more females than males.
These nymphs are clingers and only swim poorly. The hatch is generally
confined to silty, sandy, slow to medium water, while I fish the spinner
fall at the glide below the riffles. My observations suggest the egg laying
occurs in the riffle, where a spinner imitation is impossible to fish. The
fish don't seem to feed on them much in the fast water, preferring to wait
on the spinners to collect in the slower back waters and whirlpools where
mats of spent flies collect like algae on the surface of a summer pond.
Trout seem to feed on the dun in similar places.
I have never fished this hatch well. I have watched my betters fish it
with some success and have returned for lunch to reflect on the error
of my ways over a single malt or two. I was never enlightened. Rusty,
another single malt, please.
The trick seems to be to catch the event on a day with little wind, casting
to individual fish and timing the cast to that trouts feeding rhythm. Always
your fly melts into the rest of the hatch and becomes one grain of sand
along a beach. I've tried indicators, hot butt leaders, greased leaders,
the whole works. Multiple flies tied on size 14-16 hooks and prayer
don't appear to resolve the issue. I used to fish a cast of three nymphs
after the spinner fall and before the evening male hatch. It was always
to small fish. All my good fish came to spinners.
Each morning the spinner fall would happen. Some days I would wait
in the prime area for two hours or so for the spinner fall to occur. I had
to get there early so I wouldn't miss it. It never lasted more than two
hours. I fished the spinner fall hard for ten years or so, day after day.
We all knew where it would happen the only trick was when. Year after
year I noticed this one individual who never seemed to wait, was never
late and consistently seemed to be in the right place at the right time. A
well dressed somewhat heavy-set gentleman we called the 'banker.'
He would arrive, fish two hours at the peak time and depart. We never
did understand how he managed to hit it right every time. He never talked
to anyone, he just caught his trout and left to return to a suit and tie job.
A two hour break to maintain his sanity. It took me thirty years to solve
We now know that the spinner fall happens at an air temperature of
68 degrees F. The bank clock showed the time and temperature. Maybe
our nick-name 'the banker' wasn't too far off. That one simple fact
would have saved me hundreds of wasted hours.
I fish the dun as a size 18-20 fly with 3 long Micro Fibett tails, a thread
wrapped body and a few wraps of grizzly hackle or a few snow-shoe
rabbit foot hairs to represent the wing.
I tie the spinner the same except that I use Float-Vis for the wing.
The nymph is done with natural brown wild turkey tail tied with very
fine wire instead of thread, like Sawyer did his pheasant tailed nymph.
I tie a couple of tail fibers on each side to represent legs. The copper
wire weights the size 18 fly. A small indicator helps.
The floating nymph works during this hatch. It may be that its taken for
the spinner, but whatever, it works.
I fish upstream during this hatch, but on my river the old-timers fished
down and across with super long leaders. I've seen 24 foot leaders
although I generally never fished one over 18 feet. A down-stream and
across presentation with a leader with an eight foot tippet and the proper
mend would drop the fly right down a trout's snout with no drag. A tough
act to follow.
One should always remember that other flies are present at this time also.
In the mid-west it's the Little Slate-Winged Olives (Baetis punctiventris)
and the Small Blue-Winged Olives (Drunella lata) and
more caddis species than a person can count. I'm not familiar with the
western hatches but I have seen tons of Pale Morning Duns come off the
water then. Watch what the trout are eating. There can be localized intense
hatches which are not tricos, and all spinner falls at this time of the year
don't happen in the morning. Many of the other flies present lay their
eggs late into the evening. Dark might herald the emergence of more than
just the male tricos. An aware bear returns to his den with a smug look
on his face. A rare event at this time of the year.
Sometimes when I face this hatch (The White Curse) I feel like Indiana
Jones. One against many, trying to persevere against the odds, undaunted,
ready to try it again tomorrow. Old Rupe
P.S. Try tying the abdomen of the spinner and dun with a bright
chartreuse color. I have had a lot of success fishing a small black
ant during the emergence and spinner fall. I don't know why but it
works. A 16-18 dry which looks like Gulliver among the Lilliputians.
When all else fails try these two old tricks and hang on.
Special credits: Spent wing photo and nymph drawing courtesy of
Malcolm Knopp and Robert Cormier, from their book Maylies published
by Greycliff. Trico fly-in-hand from Hatches II by Al Caucci and
Bob Nastasi, published by Lyons Press; remaining photos by James Birkholm.