Mayflies of the Metolius — a Primer

Green Drake Dun

If you’ve ever wondered about all of the mayflies that hatch on the Metolius, this is a good rundown on the species and the flies we recommend to match the complexities of spring creek fishing.

  • BWO (January through December) #18-20 emergers, cripples, duns and spinners
  • PMD (May through October) #16-18 with emphasis on #16 emergers, cripples, duns and spinners
  • Cinygmula (March to early May and October through mid November) #14-16 emergers, cripples and duns (PMD patterns are perfect to match cinygmula)
  • Ameletus (August) #14 #12-14. Emergers, cripples and duns. Often mistaken for early flav hatches.
  • Green Drake (May and June and a second hatch in September and early October) #8-12 emergers, cripples and duns
  • Flav (September) #12-14 emergers, cripples and duns
  • Mahogany Dun (September and October) #16 emergers, cripples and duns

Emerger Patterns

For the emergers I’ve become huge fan of the Quigly Film Critic tied in the proper size and color you can match all of these mayflies with that pattern. I also like the Stalcup’s Winger Emerger, again sized and tied in hatch matching colors for the BWO and PMD’s, and a Sparkle Dun, especially for Drakes and Flav’s and PMD’s.

Cripple Patterns

For cripples, (on everything except the Green Drakes and the Flav’s) I like the KD Dun, Knock Down Dun and the Quigly Half Down Dun. I like Quigly Cripples for Drakes and Flav’s and it’s a good one tied for PMD too. The first three have spent wings and often that is the feeding trigger for the trout to take. Other times the trigger is how the fly is sitting in the film with a portion of the fly stuck under the meniscus.

Comparaduns and Quill Gordons

Day in and day out I trust a Comparadun when I’m matching adult duns for almost any mayfly. I also fish a lot of parachute patterns to match mayfly hatches. I fish fully hackled flies on the Metolius too, usually for Drakes. In fact for Green Drakes I will use a Wulff style fly, but even for Mahogany Duns I’ve had great fishing on the Metolius with a Quill Gordon. More often though, the Metolius trout seem to prefer a low floating pattern which is why I chose the comparadun or parachute patterns. One of our secret weapons on the Metolius is a Brown Parachute patterns called an Upright Rusty Spinner. It looks like a lot of things and the fish rise to it with confidence.


Spinner Patterns

The Rene Harrop CDC Parachute Rusty Spinner in #16-20 matches 80% of the spinner falls you’ll see here. A tannish yellow pattern in #16 has been good too. I’ve had trout puke out mouthfuls of yellowish mayfly spinners when I’ve released them. Some specific spinners to match Baetis spinner falls will be good to add to your box. I’ve seen a lot of translucent BWO spinners out there so I tie a white bodied #18-20 spinner with a rust thorax and white Antron wings. Tuck a couple of light olive CDC Quill Body Spinners in your box too and you should have a very complete spinner selection.

One last note, I’ve been fishing the Metolius for over 30 years and I’ve never seen a Green Drake Spinner. I’ve talked to people who have, I’ve had friends see fish actively eating GD Spinners, I’ve never been lucky enough to hit it. As I understand their life cycle, the Green Drake Spinners fall in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning when it’s still dark. For unknown reasons, (like many things in fishing there are lots of unknowns) occasionally Green Drake Spinners will fall during daylight hours. For that reason, I always tuck 2 patterns in my box just in case because one of these years I’m going to win the lottery and fish that spinner fall.

Every once in a while a March Brown hatch will come up in the spring too so carry a couple in March and April but don’t expect too much with those on the Metolius. Save your March Browns for the Deschutes and McKenzie.

Soft Hackles

When in doubt, a soft hackle pattern is a great bet too. I tie them in olive, yellow, tannish yellow, tan, rust, brown and purple. Powder it up and fish these in the film or leave untreated and fish them as an ascending emerger not yet at the surface.

Next month we will cover Caddisflies of the Metolius, so stay tuned for that.

—Jeff Perin and The Fly Fisher’s Place

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