Fly anglers were the first to recognize the importance of giving fish what they want—and matching the hatch to do so. In late spring, that means imitating the magnificent Hexagenia limbata. After spending up to two years living in the detritus of lake and river bottoms, the species’ fearsome-looking nymphs split their exoskeletons and rise to the surface, emerging as beautiful mayflies. With their lifespan measured in mere hours, the sole purpose of these soft, gooey, protein-packed insects is to flutter above the surface and reproduce. The females then land back on the water to deposit their golden eggs and die.
When that happens, brook, brown and rainbow trout engage in a feeding frenzy, but they typically only target the ripe females with their miniscule bundles of eggs. The precious cargo is smaller than the head of a pin, but if the bottom of your fly doesn’t mimic the eggs with a tiny tuft of yellow dubbing, it will often get ignored. And you thought your kids were picky eaters.