Have Green River anglers created an "artificial" cicada hatch by fishing with them so much the fish are used to seeing them?
By Robert Williamson
Fishing with cicadas has really become popular on the Green River. There are times during the summer months, May through August, when the naturals will be found in the Green River canyon.
Cicadas are not an aquatic insect, but a terrestrial insect that lives underground as a larva, feeding mostly on tree roots until it develops into an adult and comes to the surface to mate and start the cycle over again. This cycle can take as long as 13 to 17 years.
As an adult, the cicada is a large insect about 1 to 1.5 inches long. The wing is veined and extends back along both sides of the body, past the end of the abdomen. Cicadas are mostly black in color, but some of them have a little bit of red, orange, yellow or green along the bottom edge of the wing and segments of the body.
Male cicada can be heard creating the consistent buzz or drone on hot afternoons. This noise is used to attract mates. It also helps the angler locate a sample so he can use it to create an artificial.
As a cicada flies around in search of a mate, it is often blown onto the water and becomes available for trout. While there may not be a large number of naturals on the water at one particular time, they do find their way onto the water periodically and trout will recognize them as a fair and familiar morsel of food.
It has been stated by some knowledgeable anglers that the Green River cicada hatch is an artificial hatch, that is, a hatch created by so many anglers using a cicada imitation that the fish become accustomed to seeing them and trying to feed on them.
Cicada are fished the same way a grasshopper is fished. They can be fished downstream on a slack line into the feeding lane of a fish. They can be cast upstream and let dead drift. They can be cast from a drift boat or float tube from just about any position. The most productive method is usually from a drift boat as the angler is sitting up high enough to really see what is going on. The boat is usually drifted down the middle or slightly to one side of the river while the fisher casts in tight against the bank and allows the fly to float drag free along the edge of the bank.
Sometimes fish will come up and nudge the fly with their snout before taking the fly. They will then swirl around it as if they are trying to make up their minds if it is real or not. When this happens, do not jerk the fly away in excitement (easier said than done). If a drag free float can be maintained the fish will usually take the fly. If the fish refuses the offering, then cast over it again. Sometimes the take is fast, hard and explosive so be prepared for anything. Fish have even chased a cicada three or four feet on the surface of the water after an angler has pulled on the line and thrown back the rod tip in anticipation of a strike.
With the popularity of the cicada on the Green River there are a number of anglers trying to create new and effective patterns to simulate them. Some anglers with a lot of Green River experience believe that color inlay be an important aspect in fly creation. Most, if not all, of the original imitations used straight black as the color for the body, but as the fish are fished over, and as they get a better look at the fly, it is believed by some that the selective trout may be looking for a triggering characteristic.
This triggering characteristic may be the use of the red, yellow, orange and green that is found on the body of the natural and along the bottom of the wing. This does not mean that the total black ones do not work. It may, however, mean that those incorporating a little color may be a little more effective, at least this is the theory.
The Green is not the only river that has cicadas around the water. The Logan River has a healthy number and so does Blacksmith Fork. When you hear the constan buzz and see the naturals in the trees, tie on a cicajda imitation and give it a try.
The following tying instructions are for the Woven Cicada. It has worked extremely well on both the Logan and the Green.
Hook. Size 6-8
Underbody: Closed cell foam
Overbody: Polypropylene yarn, top color black, bottom color yellow, orange or red
Wing: Natural deer hair
Head: Clipped or bullet style black deer hair
Legs: Black rubber leg material
STEP # 1. Tie in Underbody of foam cover on only last half of hook.
STEP # 2. Tie in poly yarn on each side of shank.
STEP # 3. With hook turned toward you, weave poly to one half way point on hook covering all the foam.
STEP # 4. Tie in natural deer hair. Extend past body slightly.
STEP # 5. Tie in head by spinning a black deer head or bullet style head.
STEP # 6. Tie in rubber legs and clip to size.
The bottom of the fly can be stripped with a pantone black marker if you feel too much yellow, orange or red shows.
With the clipped head style it is not necessary to add the rubber legs. Just leave some of the deer hair longer on the sides of the fly.
Copyright Dave Webb, 2005