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Fly Fishing: How to Up Your Game

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“Match the hatch.” Even if you aren’t a fly fisherman, all anglers have heard this phrase. It refers to trying to match your artificial lure to whatever it is that the local fish are eating. For a saltwater angler like myself, if a squid spawn is happening, I’m going to throw something resembling squid. If anchovies are the predominant forage in the water, guess what?

For a fly fisherman, though, matching the hatch takes on a special meaning. Beyond saying that the fish are eating a certain kind of insect, time of year and location are going to dictate that you not only need to match that insect, you need to match that insect at a particular time in its life cycle. In order to match effectively, it helps to know some basic entomology for fly fishing.

Midge Larva

Midge Larva

First off, don’t get overwhelmed and think you need to learn every bug on the water and their latin name, species, and genus just to catch more fish. The real key with any fly fishing entomology lesson is to equip you with the knowledge you need to identify the family of bug, and the stage that bug is in. Once you know that, you then see if that bug is on the menu for trout in that stage and match your fly accordingly. It’s really rather simple when you have the basic knowledge.

Secondly, let’s remember the biological classification order and understand that for most fly patterns, we imitate the family or even the order of the insect, not every single species. This is especially true with a fly like the Adams Dry Fly as there is no such thing as an “adams” insect, it is meant to imitate a wide variety of mayflies (Ephemeroptera). That greatly reduces the amount of knowledge you’ll need in your head at any given time to understand the basic entomology for fly fishing.

Photos: The Catch and the Hatch

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