Small streams: matching the hatch?

Matching the hatch is cool, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I’ll admit it, I’ve never been one to get all into the whole “match the hatch” deal. I understand it and the idea of matching the hatch makes sense, but it’s never really worked for me.

Instead, I sling flies that I can easily see, the trout can easily see and look buggy as all hell. Small stream trout rarely pass up the opportunity to snag a tasty meal, which is why I think matching the hatch is a pretty overrated idea for the most part.

Get the presentation right

How you present your tasty morsel of food is much more important than what it looks like. So before you worry about matching the hatch, make sure you can decently present something that the trout is going to want to eat.

Small stream trout are sketchy as hell and often spook easily. If you’re splashing a fly down on the water, drifting it in weird ways and just all around causing some seriously shady looking shit to go down, it won’t matter how well you match the hatch, the fish are not buying it. Proper presentation will beat out hatch matching every time.

Be different

I would argue that actually not matching the hatch can be pretty damn successful on small streams. If trout see (and eat) the same thing all day, I’m pretty sure they enjoy seeing something come along that looks all together different.

I love mexican food, love that shit to death, but I don’t want it for lunch and dinner both. I like variety and I’m pretty sure that trout do too. Ask them, they’ll tell you.

So if you know that everyone is having decent luck with a certain pattern, throw something different. Now don’t misunderstand, have that other pattern with you as well. But, sling something else to see if they’ll take it and then go to whatever else has been working if you need to. Sometimes it takes seeing something different for trout to get active.

“Look, that guy used orange dubbing instead of olive, I’m not rising for that.” – said no trout, ever.

You should always be willing to experiment with your colors and your patterns on small streams. Often times, I’ve found that trout don’t really care what floats by, as long as it looks pretty tasty.

Matching the hatch is cool, if you’re into that sort of thing. But don’t be afraid to present something that is slightly off key, you never know what might rise and take it.

Cory Perry

I’m a husband, father and fly fishing geek living in Greenville, SC. I’m down with slinging flies, tying flies and spending every minute I can enjoying the vast outdoors with my family and friends.

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