Mastering the Hatch part 2 Continued


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Posted by David Dempsey on 2013-05-01 14:42:51 in reply to Mastering the Hatch part 2 posted by David Dempsey on 2013-05-01 14:03:13

Given the fact that there are so many similar bugs--or related bugs and the fact that some Baetis are multi-brooded (having two or more hatches per year), it's a pretty safe bet that both early and late season I will find SOME Baetis on the water! I happen to like Baetis for this reason--and a bunch of others--all of which makes it a very easy hatch to fish over.

One important thing to me is the fact that Baetis are in the group of small streamlined nymphs lumped together as "swimmers" in older taxonomies. What does that mean do you as an angler? Well, the first hint is "small and streamlined"...

When I first began flyfishing, good patterns were impossible to find although one could buy hideous garish flies--tied in Japan --at the exorbitant price of 3 for a quarter! Later in our collective evolution as anglers--and as our understanding of aquatic entomology increased, we saw breakthrough patterns by tyers like the late Andre Puyans on the west coast with his AP series along with the Pheasant Tail (not sure who is credited with first tying that one)and the Birds Nest. However, it was just a matter of time before SOMEONE figured out that fly tying--along with most other jobs, could be outsourced. The end result SEEMED to be a market flooded with flies that, instead of resembling small streamlined insects, resembled pythons that had swallowed the village cow--or looked like an ice cream cone. These patterns worked--if you were over gullible hungry fish (dream on) or if you were fishing over some chunkier insects.

They didn't work so well for Baetis...

By the way, did somebody say something about "swimmers"? They ARE fairly active bugs so here is a species--if one has to nymph-- that allows us to try different techniques instead of some very monotonous dead drifting. I personally love high sticking or some variation of Czech nymphing and indicator-free fishing when Baetis are on the water--and because they are active, it can be deadly effective! One is essentially mimicking the rapid ascent of the nymph to the surface.

In fact, one could travel with an entire assortment of Baetis patterns! They usually hatch in cooler dreary weather so the adults have a hard time drying their wings--which means a dry fly is very effective. I prefer cripples as the cripple pattern CAN cover all my bases (adult, struggling emerger and nymph in the film) but also fish Parachute BWO's and have been known to grease a nymph and float it in the film.

...and then there is the spinner fall (if the weather isn't too cold or ugly)! The Baetis spinner looks an awful lot like a Rusty Spinner--just smaller--or does the Rusty Spinner look like a Baetis? ;-) Needless to say, these are spent, dead, collapsed on the surface of the water so fine tippets and near perfect dead drifts are the order of the day. (I won't argue with anybody who says tippet size doesn't matter :lol but I will say that a finer tippet makes it easier to achieve a drag free drift and is less affected by microcurrents)

Oh silly me: Not all 27 related species behave the same... Keep an eye out for egg laying females that will land on a rock or branch sticking out of the water and literally crawl underwater (on the downstream side) to paste their eggs on the downstream side of whatever object they have landed on--including YOU at times! These are typically faster water species as compared to some of the slower weedy water species. You won't find many female Baetis in many fly shops but a simple pattern can be tied using some Krystal Flash in that same rusty color as the spinner (and make sure it is the same color when wet) and a pinch of marabou for a wing.

The upshot here is that I can fish this hatch pretty much through the entire hatch cycle--and relatively easily with some simple variations (no matter how trained the fish) on familiar patterns. Of course, fly tyers always have an advantage ;-) It is an insect that I will see almost year round by beginning my fishing at lower elevations, working up in elevation as the season progresses and then back down in the fall--and if you aren't glued to the TV on Superbowl Sunday expect to see some stellar hatches even in the dead of winter in those valley streams!


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