The best lures and flies for finicky early-season brown trout

With spring’s warming waters, brown trout become more active. And though they’re notoriously finicky, they’re also very catchable with the right presentation.


In freestone streams, browns move up out of their wintering holes eager to feed, and the low water levels concentrate them in defined midstream feeding lanes, or tight to the bank. Fly anglers do best with beadhead nymphs and streamers, such as Woolly Buggers. Hatches of midges and blue-winged olives may also occur, and on warm overcast days, caddisflies should be about.

On spring creeks, stable water volumes and temperatures create silty streambeds and banks lush with vegetation, making casting and wading difficult. Fortunately, browns are not leader-shy, and any drag-free drift will get their attention. Early-season hatches include stoneflies (try Stimulators or Sofa Pillows), along with green and brown drakes; a nymph under a large dry generally produces.