Breadcrumbs

What a difference a year makes! Last August we had just come down from near-record high river flows. This year we are in a stage of drought and having very low flows. We are seeing, in essence, the basement of the river this season. At this level it's easier for the walking anglers to wade the river and harder for the floaters in some areas to dodge rocks. Floaters should especially use extra caution in Red Creek Rapids. It is a bone pile of rocks at low flows and should be scouted for safe passage.

But even with this change in flows, the river still fishes well. This is a great time to fish your favorite attractor-style flies such as humpies, Wulffs, stimulators, etc. There will be several aquatic hatches to watch for as well. Caddis will be very active in the evening hours. Pale Morning Dun mayflies will also be present many days. Emerging craneflies will be active in the wee morning hours.

As in all warmer months, I can't overemphasize the importance of the Green River's terrestrials to successful fishing. This is probably the prime month for hopper fishing and on a slow day or when encountering that fussy big brown trout that refuses all else, a black ant (#14/16) or beetle pattern in the same sizes can work magic. This spring we had possibly the all-time best ever cicada hatch in May and early June. Though the naturals are gone now, you can still have great fishing success using cicada patterns as an attractor fly. These and other large dry flies also work well with droppers below them.

Here are a few pointers on why and how I approach fishing dry/dropper combos. This technique is deadly effective because it allows you to fish a dry and a nymph at the same time, thereby appealing to a broader range of feeding trout. The flies are connected by first tying a tippet to the hook bend on the dry fly. Then the nymph is tied onto the tippet's other end. The flies I use for the droppers typically have metal beads placed at their heads before they are tied to help them sink. Tungsten beads are the most effective. The dry fly needs to be able to support the weight of the dropper fly so that only a tug from a fish will sink it. The dry fly thereby becomes your strike indicator. Bead-head nymphs, as they are known, can be tied in a number of standard patterns such as pheasant tail nymphs and a number of midge patterns.

In setting the depth for the dropper (length of the tippet), I key on several things. First, the deepest I ever fish this way is under three feet (generally around 30 inches or less). If the tippet is longer it becomes hard to cast without tangles. If you need to reach a greater depth then go to a standard nymph rig.

Early in the day I fish at 24-30 inches because the fish are generally staying tighter to the bottom. Then I fish sections of river water that match up well with the depth I have set. As the day passes I find you can shorten (up to 12 to 18 inches) as the fish move up in the water column and become more active. I will go shorter than that (as close as four inches) when I observe fish feeding at those levels. If they are cruising and feeding at six inches, then set it at six. This requires watching for the fish and their activity from pool to pool and from morning into afternoon and making adjustments when necessary. Use this technique whenever you need to buoy a fly at a certain level in the river to keep it near the fish's feeding level.