Guide Fly: Brown Drake (Ameletus?)

The Bonbon, Ameletus Dry Fly?Upper Sacramento & McCloud River Dry Fly

Springtime fly fishing on local streams has been outstanding recently so I was a bit bummed to get a late cancellation this week.  Rather than sitting around in my pajamas and eating bonbons I decided to go sample the fishing on my own.  I have been guiding on the Upper Sac and the Lower McCloud where hatches have been sparse but the bugs have arrived earlier than usual.  We have not seen  a great deal of top water feeding  but we’ve enjoyed fishing attractor style dries with droppers with considerable success.

USac spring time dry fly 'bowUpper Sac dry fly 'bowBefore the stoneflies arrive, the go to bugs are usually the smaller ones, spring caddis, some Blue Wing Olives and March Browns, but we are always on the look out for the bigger Mayflies, Green Drakes and Brown Drakes that typically show when the weather turns warm but wet.   At best these hatches are sparse, not the main course, more like dessert, and in some years we may miss them entirely.  I typically fish a large Parachute Adams, which on a wet overcast day does a credible job.  I have learned to carry some cripple Green Drake patterns as a back up for fussy fish.

McCloudTrophy spring time Upper Sac RainbowThis year has been different, as we have seen many Brown Drakes each and every trip, despite the generally bright skies we have been enjoying.  While several fish, including some nice ones have taken the Parachute Adams, more of them than I might have liked bumped it in refusal rises, so I took this gift of time to design a new pattern, tie a few up and try it out on my “off” days.

McCloudThe preliminary results are in and while it may be wishful thinking, the wild trout on the Upper Sac, Lower McCloud and Upper McCloud I have shown it to this week have taken it just as well or better than the Parachute Adams.  To paraphrase my favorite fly fishing author John Gierach, “There is nothing like discovering a hatch and designing and tying a fly to match it, using the fly to catch fish after fish, only to realize you were completely wrong but catching fish anyway!”

Here is the recipe for the “Brown Drake” Bon Bon pictured above:

Hook: Tiemco 100 size 10, Thread: Rust 6.0, Tail: 6-8 Dark Moose Hair, Body: Rust Superfine Dubbing, Rib: Yellow Silk Thread, Wing: Dark Dun Deer Hair, Hackle:  Furnace.

PS: My best efforts to key the bug was a reference in Hafele & Hughes, Western Hatches for the Ameletus Mayfly.  The bugs I have captured have two dark brown split tails, 1 1/2 the body length, a rust colored abdomen and thorax with distinct yellowish/tan markings and a variegated dark dun wing.  H & H list no recommended Dun or Spinner patterns. They describe the habitat: “Ameletus are distributed through out the western states, but fishable numbers occur sporadically across the range…nymphs are commonly found in small, rapid streams, near but not in fast water…the same places inhabited by large trout.”  Let me know if you have some thoughts about what species this fly might be representing?

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