Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Best Hatch in the West- The Golden Stonefly

I can hear the roars of outrage.  The masses will likely scream bloody murder over the Salmon Fly not being called the best, the hard-cores will wave their tattered, olive green Skwala flag, and the dry fly purists will quietly murmur and speak condescendingly under their breath about the glory of the Green Drake or a cloud of PMDs.  I agree, these hatches are all good, but they are not nearly as good as the Golden Stonefly.  
First off, the Golden comes off for over a month in the prime of the year.  The Skwala hatches in the cold and rain of March or April for a couple weeks, and the Salmon Fly comes off  for a week or two after the snow runs off in mid to late June.  The Salmon Fly is really only its' best when the water levels have peaked and have just started to fall. The hatch needs to be followed as it literally travels up river. Being ahead of the heaviest part of it by a mile or two is the only way to really have a banner day.  In contrast, the Golden Stonefly hatches right after the Salmon Fly in June and July and I have fished it for nearly two months on different rivers.  The weather is gorgeous while the seasonal river levels make it much easier to wade and navigate a boat.  This weather and these water conditions make for prime hatching conditions and these bugs are in abundance river wide. Considering the Golden is just a few sizes smaller than the Salmon Fly, trout are keyed into these bugs like a bachelor party at a Las Vegas $2.99 Prime Rib buffet at 4 AM. Trout eagerly munch these flies all day long with or without the full on hatch being present.  There is no magic trick to this hatch.  Fish your fly close to cover that stoneflies like to crawl around on (which is everything) and hold on tight. Trout rise aggressively on Goldens and because of their size, they will move a long ways for a take.  Fish don't need to sip and slurp lazily like in a mayfly hatch as one Golden equals about fifty mayflies in nourishment.  My fly of choice, and practically the only Golden pattern I fish, is the Chubby Chernobyl.  Like any great fly, it floats like a battleship, can be seen from outer space, and is buggy as all get out.  Its not a typical looking Golden pattern and that's probably why it works so well.

Here's how to tie one: