okay here goes. i have never fly fished. i can cast and know the basics but beyond that im in the dark. im going fishing in a small stream (quartzville or the calapooia) and i need to know wat to use. dry fly or wet fly? big fly or small fly? what pattern? how do i fish it? leave nothing out please ?!
Alrighty. When you decide to fish a body of water the first thing you should do is get on the net and try to find some information about it first.
What flies hatch around this time of year.
What flies work better than others, (this has a lot of significance).
Finding out what you can about the success of other anglers is also a good idea.
Use that information to assure you bring at least something that will work for that particular body of water. There are general go-to flies for any particular region but different bodies have different eco systems and might support certain insects better than others. But don't forget that in some cases insect hatches who's numbers fail in comparison to others of the same river might still be favored 10 to 1. This is called selective feeding. And it is MADDENING!
There are literally hundreds of different patterns and you just can't carry them all, so it's best to determine what you need for each individual trip.
When you finally do show up at your destination, before your boots hit the water you should look around.
Are there any insects in the air?
Are there any floating on the water?
Are there any trout rising?
I know it's hard to not just start fishing but five or ten minutes of prudent observation can pay off big.
You might see bugs in the air but not see any trout rising.
This could mean several things. One possibility would be that they simply aren't feeding on anything that lands on the water, although they could still be targeting that same insect just at a different stage of it's hatch. Whether it be the cased nymph under rocks at the bottom of the river, the larva form as it exist that protection and floats to the surface, what they call the "emerger". That is the stage where they have reached the surface of the water and are trying to get out of their casing and emerge as a full blow flying insect that you would see flying around and either landing on the water to deposit eggs or tapping the surface repeatedly, also laying eggs.
Trout eat them all but one stage they do love is the emerger stage. The reason being is that when the insect is trying to break free of it's casing and fly off it's trapped. Flat trapped. Not only by the casing itself but also by the super thin film that sits on the surface of the water used by skippers, spiders, mayflies and every other insect that interacts with the surface. This film is what prevents them from falling through and makes it a trial for anything trying get out from the bottom.
You might find many bugs flying around while trout are rising. Are they making a decent splash, exposing half of their body or are they just sticking their nose through the surface and hardly making any effort at all? If they are making a big commotion they most likely are going after insects that have hatched completely and need to rise violently like this in order to get them before they fly off.
If they are being real slow and quiet they most likely are "sipping" emergers off the surface and don't need to be so aggressive because as I said before the emergers are trapped.
If you see fish rising pay attention to how
they are rising. There could be gobs flying around while you see fish rising, tie on whatever you see in the air and get nothing while the fish are still rising all around you. If you had stopped and looked a little closer you might have found that the fish weren't rising violently for the airborn insects but instead rather calmly for the same insect in it's emerger stage.
One of the reasons fish select different insects and different stages like this is because every attempt they make to take in food costs them energy. If they burn more energy than they get from what they are feeding on they simply won't survive. And don't leave out insects that could have been blown into the river by the wind. These might be beetles, ants, bees, caterpillars, spiders etc. If it's windy and there are a lot of trees or timber right on the edge of the water ants and spiders can get great results.
If you see no insects flying, none dead on the surface, and I would hope no fish rising (
) you need to fish subsurface nymphs. The same rules apply as to what you should do to find what you need before you get there, the nymph is just another stage of an insects life. However, there are some other options for fishing subsurface that can produce great results. Such as minnow variations, leeches, and beetle larva. One my personal favorites are damslefly and dragonfly nymphs. Sometimes I will fish those no matter what is going on. They are detailed, fat and slow.
A lot of people shy away from nymph fishing because it's a lot harder to detect a strike. It just takes practice and a good strike indicator.
As far as presentation goes this applies to how the insect you chose is acting at the time. On the surface and below, there are two major catagories: Drag and no drag. If the insect is just landing sitting for a while and flying off you need to make sure your fly sits motionless on the water and creates no ripple or disruption on the surface. This is where practicing your "mend" can be very worthwhile. Some skate around on the top so mimic this as well, but don't be afraid to experiment trying to trigger a strike. The same goes for sub-surface.
I linked you up with a search for dominate patterns during February in Oregon. It's pretty cold so the hatches tend to slow down so don't be afraid to use an "attractor". Like a small steelhead streamer or something of that sort. Same idea as using a spinner on a spinner rod. Take the time to do things like google information about the particular insects this site claims are active around now. Check out some YouTube videos. And go to your local fly shop. They will almost certainly have an erasure board with all the hatches for all the rivers and lakes on the wall.
Since it's your first trip out and it's the middle of February, I would focus on nymphs.
Do you have any questions about leaders, wading, casting or anything else? If I think of something critical I left out I'll post it.