10 patterns to have in your fly box for stoneflies
By Derek Draplin
Stoneflies make up one of the four major hatches in a trout’s diet. Having a good selection of patterns in differing sizes and colors in your fly box is essential to imitate a variety of stoneflies found across the Western U.S.
These bugs crawl up the riverbanks before shedding their exoskeleton and emerging as adults. Therefore, a nymph pattern dropped off a big dry fly and cast along the banks is an ideal way to fish this hatch.
In no particular order, here are some of our favorite stonefly patterns:
When you need a very buoyant salmonfly pattern, look no further than Charlie Craven’s Morningwood Special. The extended and segmented body gives it a natural look, and the foam gives it the buoyancy to support a heavy dropper.
This pattern was designed to ride low in the surface film but has a hi-vis wing to help anglers see dirty water commonly found when salmonflies are hatching.
This simple but versatile fly imitates a yellow sally, but doubles as an attractor or terrestrial pattern. It rides high in the water because of the foam body yet still has a natural look.
This pattern provides a nice silhouette for trout looking up for adult stoneflies. Get them in orange, sizes #4-#8 for salmonflies, and yellow in sizes #10-#12 for golden stones.
A classic and versatile dry fly pattern, Kaufmann’s Stimmy in larger sizes (orange for salmonflies or yellow for golden stones) makes an excellent imitation for stoneflies. The hackle and wing gives it a bushy look that gets fish excited.
This pattern is a buggy-looking nymph for when you want to add some flash to your rig. According to tyer Devin Olsen, this pattern works great “early in the year when some flash helps set it apart in stained water.”
It’s safe to say this is the most successful subsurface pattern that imitates a stonefly nymph. Make sure you have this in a variety of colors and sizes, both with a bead and no bead. This pattern comes jigged, too.
This pattern has become a staple among Blue Quill’s guides. It’s got a natural look and sinks fast to get in the fish’s zone quick.
This fly’s D-ribbing gives it a realistic segmentation and makes for an enticing meal for trout keying in on big golden stoneflies. Get them while they still last!
A good ole’ soft hackle PT does an excellent job of imitating smaller stonefly nymphs. The jigged variant is favored as a dropper off a big stonefly dry since it sinks fast and helps reduce hangups in high, dirty water.
Derek is a guide and instructor for The Blue Quill Angler.