The Hatches Of Fall

By David Hulsey

Most fly fishers view the leaf change and cool winds of October as the beginning of the trout fishing season. The pink tube hatch is long gone, and you can go to the river and not sweat your brains out! Quiet rules, with only the sound of rippling water and leaves falling. Not too many hatches occur at this time beyond a few October Caddis, Midges and Blue Winged Olives, if there is a cool misty rain falling.

October Caddis are sometimes surprisingly large pumpkin orange critters that can be up to size 10 in the Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina mountains. Dirty orange Elk Hair Caddis will usually work for fish looking on the surface for a big easy meal on the warmer days of Autumn. By far the most effective presentation to take trout on October Caddis imitation is by swinging various soft hackles in the riffle areas or other likely feeding lanes. Caddis don’t spend a lot of time on the surface sometimes blasting through the film in a second and taking flight. Trout will look for the ascending emergence of caddisflies as an easier way to fill a belly.

Single hand rods or two hand trout Spey rods can accomplish this tactic very well with proper lines and leader set ups. Floating single hand fly lines or Scandi floating lines with a fluorocarbon leader attached as a tip will get your big orange soft hackle a few inches below the surface and aid the proper swing weight and cadence of the bug. Skating an October Caddis pattern can be loads of fun also! Changing that fluorocarbon leader out to a monofilament leader will get a skater on top and skittering across the current in a trout enticing action.

Midges usually hatch out on sunny days and can be the key to catching a fish or two or none at all. Highly pressured fish sometimes view these tiny insects as safe foods and will eat hundreds in a day’s time. Very few fly fishers consistently use midges simply because they are hard to tie on and virtually invisible on the water. Using midge threaders will help to get the little devils tied on. There are fly boxes with these built into the box that I use regularly to speed up fly changes. Seeing microscopic flies on the water is beyond my old eyes now so using an indicator fly ahead of the intended target fly is essential for my success on the stream. Large Elk Hair Caddis make great indicator flies for midges. They float well and instantly twitch or dive at the slightest tug on the target dry fly or sunken emerger. Swinging little Starling and Herl soft hackles can also produce strikes when the hatch is on.

Blue Winged Olives must taste like candy to trout for when they are hatching trout will do nutty things to eat them. I’ve seen trout rise under my fly rod tip many times during a blanket hatch. Blue Wings are pretty much the color of water and also can be very difficult to see on the stream. Parachute BWO patterns are my favorite and most consistent producers for me during these hatches. Mayflies spend a little time on top of the water to shake out of their shucks before taking flight and a Parachute BWO imitates this life stage very well. Trout will literally hang just under the surface an inch or two looking for them. The little parachute lets me see the fly good enough to get it into a sometimes very narrow feeding lane. Soft Hackle BWO’s swung around risers can also be effective for larger than average fish. Big fish sometimes are reluctant to stick their noses out of the water or may have been caught and released many times keying in on the rising emerger for a safe item to eat.

We look forward to seeing you on the water this fall!

Give David Hulsey a call at (770) 639-4001 to book a class or a guided trout trip. See his website at