Yesterday afternoon an acquaintance of mine asked me what he should put in his fly box for October trout fishing in the north Georgia mountains.
“I want to get a half dozen fly patterns for fall fishing,” he said. “What should I get?”
One of the best people to ask is Jeff Durniak, Regional Fisheries Supervisor for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.
Go subsurface in the fall!
A key to fall success, Durniak notes, is to use subsurface patterns.
“During fall,” Durniak says, “fishing to catch means nymphs.”
He recommends patterns such as princes, pheasant tails, and hare’s ears in sizes 14 and 16, adding that it’s important to have “a few tiny pheasant tails (18s and 20s) in the box in case fish are picky.”
Targeting big fall trout
What if you’re targeting big fall fish?
“Trophy hunters can’t go wrong with some size 8 or 10 woolly buggers or mohair leeches in black and olive,” he notes. “Add a few pink San Juan worms in size 10 in case the water’s muddy, and you’re ready to tangle with the big boys.”
But Durniak emphasizes that the key is usually not what is fished but HOW it’s fished.
“Anglers ought to spend more time scouting before they start casting in order to find out where the fish are holding and what they’re feeding on,” he says, adding that anglers should also remember that trout hang deep most of the time to avoid predators.
“Lead is your friend,” he says, noting that that’s what it takes to get your flies down in the deeper lies where the fish are more likely to be.
Dry flies for fall fishing
What about dry flies for fall? Fishing with surface flies can be great fun in the fall, but it’s a different animal than dry fly fishing in the spring and summer.
“Fall hatches are sparse,” he continues, “but dry fly purists ought to stock two old reliables.” He’s talking about the Adams parachute (sizes 14-18) and the yellow stimulator (sizes 14 and16). He also suggests that you toss in two seasonal patterns, the October caddis (size 12) and some blue winged olives (in sizes 20 and 22).
A sample fall fly box for Georgia trout fishing
So what should be in your fly box? Every fly fisher has a favorite set of flies for fall, and the choices will vary based on experience and on personal preference. But considering Jeff Durniak’s recommendations, factoring in the results of an informal survey of several fly fishers, and even throwing in a pinch of personal opinion, a good Georgia fall fly box might look like this:
A half dozen (plus one) dry flies for fall trout fishing in Georgia:
Parachute Adams, size 14-18
Royal Wulff (parachute) size 14-16
Elk Hair caddis, size 12-18
October caddis, size 12-14
Blue-winged olive, size 18-22
Stimulator (yellow or orange), size 14-16
Black fur ant fished dry, size 16
A half dozen (plus one) subsurface (wet) flies for fall fishing in Georgia:
Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, size 14-16
Pheasant tail nymph, size 14-16 and 18-20
Prince nymph, size 14-16
Soft-hackle emerger (bead head), size 14-18
Black fur ant fished wet, size 16
Wooly buggers or mohair leeches, size 8-10
San Juan worm, size 10
You undoubtedly have your own favorites, and you’ll want to customize your list to suit your own preferences. But the patterns given here will get you started.
Next time: Tips on fall fishing with subsurface flies for Georgia trout