“Back in the day”, I used to fish the trico spinner fall A LOT. I still remember the wonder and frustration of fishing my first major spinner fall on the South Branch of the Root River down in Fillmore county. The bugs were thick and trout were rising everywhere. That was the start of my infatuation with this “hatch”.
Tricos can hatch almost daily from the end of June to the end of the trout season, so that gives the dedicated angler a lot of opportunities to learn how to best fish this hatch in any given season. So, for several years in a row, I fished the tricos a lot…as much as I could. After a season or 3 I developed several “rules” for successfully catching fish during the spinner fall. I’ll summarize them here:
1. Use a long (15ft) leader with a long, fine tippet to facilitate a drag free drift.
2. Make your casts across, down and across, or down stream to the fish on a slack line (pile cast, reach cast, etc…). This gives the best drag free drift, which is essential.
3. Choose your fly wisely. Once you tie on a fly, DO NOT CHANGE IT. Have confidence in your fly so you can concentrate on your drift.
4. Try to concentrate your presentation on one fish (not easy, but not always necessary).
5. Most important: Concentrate on getting a DRAG FREE DRIFT.
After several years of enjoying the trico phenomena, I kind of just quit it. My life had changed and I found that it was just not possible to get out much in the mornings. There were seasons that I’d try to fish it once or twice, and seasons where I missed it completely. Thankfully, I was able to hit the hatch once so far this year. Not only did I have a blast catching a lot of trout, I also learned a little lesson.
I was on the water early. The tricos were just starting to hatch. A few trout were taking the hatching flies, but the main event -the spinner fall- had not started yet. I tied on a 15 foot leader that tapered down to 7x. I did not have any 7x or 6x tippet on me, so I was relying on this one leader to get me through the entire spinner fall. Ha! The gods of fly fishing choose that moment to teach me a lesson. As I was unraveling the leader a hopelessly tight knot formed right where the leader tapers down to the fine tippet section…I had to cut off my entire 7x section of leader before I even started fishing! The lightest tippet I had was 5x, which many will tell you is too thick to get a good drift with a size 20 or smaller dry fly. It’s all I had, so I tied on a 3ft section, to which I attached my trico spinner pattern. Well, it worked! I focused on my five rules and caught fish after fish. The only time I’d get a refusal was when I made a bad cast that resulted the fly dragging, and that only happened twice. So now I know for a fact that 5x is not too heavy for tiny dry flies and drag free drifts. As a bonus, the 5x allowed me to put more pressure on the fish in order to quickly drag it out of the pod of risers, lessening the chance of spooking the other fish.
A significant part of my fish catching success during the trico hatch is the fly. Early on I found that this design was not only simple to tie, it is quite durable, hooks fish well, and just plain works day in, day out. The pattern is basic: white poly yarn wings with a couple strands of UV krystal flash, black Superfine thorax, olive thread abdomen, no tail. The real secret is the hook, a Daiichi 1640 in size 18 or 20. The hook is 2x short, so a size 18 has the shank length of a 22. It also has an offset bend and the gap is the same as a size 18, giving it really good hooking and holding qualities when compared to a standard size 22 hook. Take a look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean.
I’ve really missed the trico hatch. Getting out and fishing it again this year was blast, and I hope I can do it again. I hope you can too!