Tag Archive: emergers


Bob Korose, from Florida has a terrific reason to smile. Davy Wotton photo

Looks like we have a good turnaround at BSD after last years didymo mess which most certainly caused the fish at the dam to suffer due to loss of food base.

The past months of high water more or less blew out the didymo and has allowed at least some better aquatic vegetation some of which is a pain in the arse.
Due to the amount of undesirable chemical issues in the lake it seems each year we see worse issues of filamentous alga, it not going to hurt
the fish, but having to make sure our flies are clean at all times is a pain. (Its going to get worse once the alga starts to die off which it will as water temps rise and generations break it.
The deal here is to avoid rising water at the time.)


Dave Chamberlain enjoys his annual Spring fishing on the White River, no wonder why. Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton.

The deal at Bull Shoals Dam is to know depths you are fishing and set your rigs up in such a way as you are not dragging flies on the river bed, further more contrary to what others may say it is not necessary to have your flies drag the river bed.
Trout are well capable of seeing your flies and for that matter naturals at least a one foot if not more above the river bed.
Natural stream hydraulics’ and varying depths not to mention structure move food sources at all depths within the water column. 

In some case l may well set my rigs up so as the flies are suspended two foot above. Its all related to the type of fly patterns you are using and how you wish to present them.


New Jersey John - Speechless, but happy! Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton

Bull Shoals Dam, as most know has always been one of my go to sections of the river, after some 20 years fishing it l am more than familiar with its whims and ways which are so very different to any other section of the White River and for the most part the habits of the trout that reside there are the same. They are very much influenced by what is going on generation wise, they chop and change where they will choose to feed in given zones based on which gates are open and there is never a constant so far as what is needed to catch them in any number or for that matter choice of flies and method those flies are presented.

Sure you can run a simple rig with a worm or nymph and maybe catch a few or none or the flies you are using will be totally ignored. I would say in all honestly that my fly box for BSD contains more different patterns than needed for the rest of the White river. Nymphs, dries, emergers, midges , soft hackles wet flies, streamers, bait fish patterns you name it, they are all needed at times.


Bob Korose said, "these fish are something else." Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton.

Gone are the days when trophy bows were somewhat the norm at the dam, 20 inch fish are for sure a prize by todays standards, and for me that is what l choose to target for my customers, way more worthy than a 20 inch Brown, l know how to catch them if they are in a feeding mood. That said we do catch a whole bunch of smaller fish.

Recent weeks at the dam have been good both for numbers and many fish from 18 to 24 inches, fish in the 3 to 5 lb class weight.


Seeing spots sure makes a guy smile, ask Mike Lloyd! Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton

Do l have a secret fly? No, not at all; it’s based on experience. 100’s of trips fishing that dam and knowing what flies to use at the time that will get the fish interested. That said the majority of my fly patterns will be related to my White Tail various chironomid patterns, super and prism midges in various colors and patterns of my grass worms.

If the fish are surface feeding then other fly patterns will come into play as will a shad kill.

Davy Wotton

(posted by Teresa “TBird” Van Winkle April 7, 2016)


June; not as yet summer heat and humidity, but its on the way. Meanwhile the rains continue as l write.
l guess in way it’s good for the trout and the growth of what we have planted in the yard, not so much so far as having to mow the lawn more frequently. 

Fishing this past month has been pretty darn good, now the water temps are in the 50’s. Mininimum Flow Release along with released generations have more or less kept the river with good flow rates and that in turn has provided great habitat and food base for the trout.

Not much at this time so far as hatches; caddis was not as we have seen before and as yet we await the appearance of the sulphurs and related mayfly species.
If they do, and you see trout interested, then you will have options to fish: soft hackles, emergers, nymphs and dries- patterns associated with the species.
At this time the fish are concentrated mainly on midge, sowbugs and scuds, bait fish and crawfish, snails also in certain zones. 

As a rule brown trout become more nocturnal in feeding habits once the day light hours increase, that said we have had some awesome brown trout fishing early AM before the sun gets high and the light conditions become unfavorable.
Typically, when the fog is still present over the river and the day is generally overcast.
Other than that, the rainbows for the most part have been active all day long. Water levels have generally not been high enough for big time streamer drift fishing, that said many of the big brown we have caught recently have been taken fishing wet fly and nymph rigs and smaller streamers tied to 8 and 6 long shank hooks, such as the sculper and Davy Wotton Bugger.

Often as not as of now when we see increase flows the river may become trashy with dislodged moss and alga, best bet here is to fish dead drift methods which will reduce crap on the leader and flies, same will apply if you fish your rig too hard on the bottom, likely your flies will be covered in moss and crap. Either way it pays to check your flies regularly.  

In the case of nymph fishing,  White tail Midges in black, red and pearl have caught serious numbers of fish including 20 inch plus browns.
Hook sizes 14/16. I have also fished many days with two fly combinations of a white tail midge and a soft hackle set 18 inches above the Whitetail Midge  or at times below the midge, again 18 inches below. The latter rig well suited to shallow water zones.

You may also find in the slower zones you will have to reduce overall size of your flies to max size 16 and even 18’s for dead drift techniques, you might also try a two fly rig of soft hackles 16/18’s, again fished dead drift.
I would also include this month so far as nymphs are concerned, gold ribbed hares ear, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Sowbugs and Scuds.
If the water is high and dirty, then you will need to fish flies they can see such as Prism Worms, eggs and jigs.

You may also see early AM fish working the surface taking midge, choices here will include midge type soft hackles, pupa and emergers.

Small dries may also work well. In the case of dry fly fishing, now water temps have risen and the fish are actively looking for food, odds are you will catch fishing dries. Good general patterns to try are Adams, Ants, Cahills, Royal Wulf, Humpies.

Emerger style dries such as the various Klinks also well worth fishing. Still early, that said hoppers may also induce a good fish early AM and late PM after the sun has set. 

In the case of fishing small streamers, l favor to use either a short section sink tip, 4 to 6ft ips 4  or a intermediate line 1/2 ips. 

Once we do start to see the heat of the day, humidity and blue bird sky, odds are the fishing may slow down in the afternoon unless you seek deeper water that has good shade cover, moss beds or any other structure that provide fish with cover and shade. 

Tight lines all. 


As l write today there is another wet cold front that has moved in.  For sure not a comfortable day to be on the water. Oh well, sooner or later we will see spring time flourish.
Wet, windy weather but  days of the caddis hatch has begun in earnest. Depending on your location on the river emergence times will differ,  most of the better hatches l have fished this past two weeks have started early PM time. Some days the hatch will continue for a good period of time, others times there is no hatch before the next gets going, either way the trout are on the look out at all times.
A nice 24 inch brown released. Davy Wotton Photo

A nice 24 inch brown released. Davy Wotton Photo

So here is the scenario to catch ’em.
Early morning surface water temperature may be cool which may well reduce surface activity until the sun gets up and warms the top  water. At this time opt for fishing caddis and midge imitations at lower depths either with an indicator or short line EU style nymph methods which is my choice here. In other words,  it’s a shorter upstream high stick presentation tracking the fly or flies across to downstream holding the rod high to allow the flies to  rise on the downstream hang, be prepared at this time for a fish to take, if nothing has before. The trick is to watch the end of the fly line for the take  which will generally be a quick jerk or movement of the line, set the hook. If boat drift fishing then general dead drift indicator methods will work all be it l still choose to use a free line technique at these times as it will allow for animation of the flies in the water column which can be deadly.
Once you start to see emerging caddis you can bet the fish are now focused on the pupa as they move from the river bed to the  surface as they do so in numbers fish will move closer to the surface to take emergers and adults. This is now the time to focus on fishing pupa emergers such as the SLF Trans caddis emerger, soft hackles, wet fly and dry-fly, all be it, l will tell you fishing pupa/soft hackle combinations will if you present them and  fish them right out score a dry at this time. That’s not to say if you enjoy to fish a dry it has no worth.
Soft hackles of use include DW green butt, variations of hares ear soft hackle, grouse and green, and flies of that nature.  Presentations should include dead drift and also fishing up and across to down with slow figure 8 retrieve or short slow pulls and  pauses.
Adult caddis live for a good period of time after emergence and it is after the females have mated that they return to the river  to deposit. As a rule when they do you will see many females working upstream laying eggs and splashy rises as the trout try to catch them. This is a good  time to rig up with a dry-fly, or a combination of dry 18 inches above a sparse soft  hackle. You may also opt for a pair of dry-fly patterns.
More or less you will not beat an elk hair caddis, if it is the right size and color. Trout can be real fussy at times choosing to take a dry, particularly if they have been fished over and hooked a  time or two.
Another option is to fish a skating caddis to which  l have developed a number of patterns. These flies when fished and drawn across  the water will create a V wake as do the naturals, this is caused by the  trailing edge of the natural as it moves across the surface. Takes here can be  explosive and often as not will induce a large Brown to take.
Expect that caddis action to be around well into May.
Other than fishing caddis imitations, then your  best options will be to fish combinations of sowbugs, scuds, white tail and  prism midges, GRHE, PTNs, various soft hackles and wet flies. Woolly buggers will generally always nail a few fish. If drift fishing higher water  levels l would certainly add worms and eggs to the agenda, to at lest give you a  chance of your fly being seen in the trash water.
If fishing low water for midges then choose  sowbugs and scuds, in colors gray, gray/olive, midge pupa and emergers, in  black, red, tan, brown, gray, micro soft hackles and midge dries.
Remember to use long leaders 12 feet or more to 6 or 7x and micro indicators. ( Check  out the new Midge Magic DVD ) if you wish to learn how to fish midges.
Generations have generally been low or days of  zero. Unfortunately this year due to lower water levels the dreaded didymo (rock  snot ) has made its ugly presence again, particularly on the White at the dam and as far down as l am aware of to Buffalo shoals. The problem is that when  generations are taking place after zero flows the snot is flushed off the river  bed along with moss and alga causing the water to be full of trash in many cases. Your only choices are to be well below any rising water or well above a couple of hours of new water rise. What you will need to do is  check the COE site to know when water was shut down or released and from then determine your location to fish, at least for the White. It is not so much an issue for the Norfork river.
Odds are unless we see a good period of high water generation to clean the river bed it’s not going to go away in a  hurry.
Fish stocks in the river are good at this time and no doubt there are a great number of Browns out then from 18 to 24 inches so go catch ’em.
Tight lines all.
Written March 28th, 2013
Posted on April 8th, 2013



Soft Hackles and Spiders.

As most of you may know the origination of soft hackle and spider fly patterns originated in the UK, all be it that is not totally true as flies of this nature were also used in other parts of Europe. Fact of the matter is such flies formed from silk thread bodies, at times a body formed from animal fur and a hackle wound at the head became known and from that time on are now considered by many fly fishers essential to have in the fly box, no wonder as they are some of the most effective fly patterns to catch trout in any water they are found. Be it a large lake or a micro small creek.

Provided you choose the right fly and present it in a natural manner.

Flies of this category may be fished at any depth in the water column to the surface, by many methods, be that dead drift or with animation. However it is when fish are seen feeding close to the surface or fishing over shallow water runs and slower back water eddies that these flies really hold their own against others, here again provided you choose the right fly and present it in a natural manner.

Which in my book means dead drift with some semblance of life imparted to the fly. Trout do not see midge and mayfly emergers swimming upstream, they await the nymphs, emergers, duns, spinners moving towards them and that is the essence of fishing these flies, in a natural drift. Granted in the case of caddis there may be a greater animation of the natural pupa/emergers and here is may well pay to enhance movement of the fly to attract the trout’s attention.

For many anglers fishing soft hackles amounts to simply casting the fly across the stream and striping it back, granted this may well catch fish, saying that it is not by any means the way to accomplish skills that will ultimately catch you many more fish, and that is the crux of the matter.


The rod is very much an integral part of being able to fish soft hackle and spider flies to good effect. The ideal rod should have a soft tip and a mid flex action, fast action rods are not the way to go here. Rod length ideally 10ft all be it l also use 11ft rods. And there are reasons why l choose long soft action rods. Rod action is related to how you are able to impart movement to the flies, often the take of the fish can be fast and hard and you need a rod to absorb that initial shock, you may well hook a large fish, often you will be fishing with small hooks and light X leaders, once again the rod acts as a shock absorber. When fishing combinations or teams of flies you also need a rod that allows a slower wider casting stroke, that reduces tangles,line speed is reduced and softer presentations are the result. Granted there may be situations such as fishing small creek with heavy vegetation that limits rod length. My preference is for rods that carry 3 /4 wt lines.


When l started to fly fish silk lines were still the most popular lines used, and there is no doubt that they have values over and above modern lines, finer diameter for the wt, they impart better movement of the flies and due to their suppleness move in sequence with the water’s surface. Downside is you have to maintain them and the will cost you close to $200.

Modern lines tend to be stiff and wiry, therefore lighter weight lines should be chosen, 2 to 4wts, 3 is overall my choice here and a double taper profile or at least a long forward tapered WF profile. Heavy forward WF lines are not the way to go. Distance is not the issue here, its presentation values, neither do you want the increased drag effect that WF lines create, due to the forward weight and diameter of the line.

You need all in your favor to be able to allow the flies to dead drift in a natural manner as close as you can to the fly if it were not attached to your leader. In other words as it would by natural stream drift and movement.

Color of line, l prefer white for l can see it at all times. There are those who argue that white lines spook fish, that’s not my opine, any line will spook fish if you cause its presence to be known either in the air or on the water’s surface. You do not cast a fly line to the fish, you cast the fly separated from the line by a leader and that’s what the fish should see. And that also includes the absence of your presence to the fish.

Leaders and tippet.

If your choice is to use a factory tapered leader and add additional ok. My way is to build my systems to suit my needs which may differ depending on chosen presentation methods largely based on the nature of the water fished and the trout’s feeding pattern at the time. That may also be related to time of year, water temperature and time of day.

More or less l build from the fly line a butt section using clear Amnesia and add to that my additional leader to which the fly or flies are attached. In the case of more than one fly then detached a dropper is used.


Not enough room here to discuss this. Other than in the case of soft hackles and spiders look at it like this. They should be fished dead drift, by the same manner as you would fish a nymph, dry or emerger with an initial upstream presentation most certainly to fish you can see feeding in the surface levels. Your indication of the take is either watching the trout move to the fly or a movement of the leader/tippet, granted this takes practice and demands from you perfect line and drift control to start with, secondly you must maintain your sight in the known zone the flies are at. Once your flies are in a position well across and down then a slow retrieve across stream will often promote a take. It is not a strip type retrieve as you would use for a streamer, remember these are small sparse flies and you need the fish to see them.


Years back flies were fashioned from natural materials, fur and feather, to-day we have a wide range on synthetics which to some extent allow for to increase the range fly patterns, at least so far as body materials as almost all soft and spider flies use a natural bird hackle, that what makes the fly come to life.

So far as what pattern to use. Many are related to species, such as BWO, March brown, Sulphurs and so on.It pays to take account of this for your choice of fly if they are present on the water you fish or know to be found in that body of water. On the other hand there are many other combinations that are more generic, also wise to carry those.

My own personal choice is to use flies that are more closely related to species, for the reason that it gives me a far better background knowledge of what to use and when.

Spiders and Soft Hackles- tied by: Davy Wotton (for posting in  Davy and TBird Fly Fishing Journal)

Spiders and Soft Hackles- tied by: Davy Wotton (for posting in Davy and TBird Fly Fishing Journal)


If you have further interest to improve your soft and spider fishing then you might choose to obtain my Wet Fly Ways DVD, as that covers most of what you need to know rigging and fishing wise. I also offer a wide range of soft hackle and spider fly patterns.

The flies shown are DW Fidgets, sizes 18/20. Used for dead drift when small midges and May-fly are of interest to the trout.

Davy Wotton






Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle  on February 28th, 2013

Davy Wotton- CO August 17th, 2012- TBird Photo

To say the least summer this year has been a hot one, and not at all comfortable at times out there on the river; saying that  fortunately, we have had reasonable generation schedules that have kept water temperatures suitable for the trout, all be it on lower water days the heat of  the day warming the water has slowed the action down.

Best optional times for fishing have been early morning to early afternoon periods unless you were close  to the dam where water temps have been lower.
During low water trout will seek deeper water pools and agitated water zones such as shoals and riffles, these are the zones to concentrate your fishing activity.
Due to the hot climatic conditions the sulphur and PMD hatches have been much lower than normal, this being so best options have been fishing close to the river bed with combinations of midge, sowbugs, scuds  and other generic nymph patterns. Hoppers and ants have also at times worked well.
As we move into the last of the hot summer days and move into the cooler nights we will see a few changes out there on the  river.
Browns have started to move upstream to the chosen spawning zones, which gives us good opportunities to nail a good one, for at  this time browns tend to become more aggressive and territorial.
During day time low water these fish are likely to be spooky so caution is needed to get close. 
You may well be able to locate fish and sight fish. Best options will be to set up with a long leader system to 5 x, couple that with nymphs, midge, sowbugs and  scuds as good choices. Hoppers and ants may also promote some interest.
At this time of the year streamer fishing during the night time hours may also be  productive, you just got to get out there and fish, you never know.
If there are low levels of generated water this creates a better overall fishing situation as moving water tends to  increase the trout’s interest to feed, once again all the above methods are good  options through the entire river system.
Flies of choice will include white tail and prism  midges in black, red, pearl and silver. Sowbugs in gray/gray olive and tan same colors also for scuds.
Prism and San Juan worms, gold ribbed hares ear, prince  nymph, pheasant tails. If you are fishing a midge hatch then you will need midge  pupa, midge emergers and dries in sizes 18 to 24.
Soft hackles also fished in riffle water and fished  dead drift as a dropper in combination with a nymph have been working real well  recently, partridge and orange, hares ear, badger and silver, black and silver  spider to name a few.
If there is a good generation flow then this may be  the time to work the banks with hoppers and ants, standard muddler minnows have  also done well fished greased up as a dry cast to the bank and given a few  twitches.
Wet fly fishing as of now is also a good option. If fish are inclined to rise to the surface then a dry line is preferred, if not a  intermediate or slow sink being best.
Likewise day time streamer fishing with olive/tan/orange woolly buggers using a sink tip line cast across stream and  fished back will also promote takes. Both the above methods can be fished either  wade fishing and working downstream or boat drift and cast to the  bank’s.
Midge fishing.
I recently filmed a new DVD shortly to be released  related to midge fishing, titled Midge Magic. As many of you know midges are a  important food source for the trout in the AR tailwaters, and for many not an easy situation to deal with, particularly when the fish are taking the emergers in near on flat slow moving water.
Either way the way to deal with this situation is to fish long leaders, fine tippets and very small flies,  and never let the trout know you are there. You must present you flies with zero drag free drifts  to start with and be able to know a fish has taken the fly, the new DVD will  show you many ways to deal with midge feeding fish.
For many the standard approach is to use indicator set up with a zebra style midge and that will work well at times, but  not always. Once fished have wised up to your presence and continual vision of your flies your odds are way less. Either move to a new location, give the water a good rest or change what you are doing, no point to continue to cast away with no results.
Ok guys, looking forward to the fall which is on  one of my personal favorite times out there on the rivers.
Tight lines all.

Davy’s hat on dash of the dodge as we drive thru Kansas- although we have been back from CO for a few days and Davy is back guiding on the White River here in AR, his beloved Rio hat still bears his flies from the trip! Beautimous!!! TBird Photo

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