how important is colour to waking flies? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: how important is colour to waking flies?

09-20-2002, 03:27 AM
I've always wondered how much of a factor color is when choosing a waking fly for summer steelhead?The fish are obviously drawn to the "V" in the wake but has anyone noticed any major differences in success with different colors or surface flies?Most people I know seem to stick with flies like Bombers and Waller Wakers in natural deer hair colors.Are natural buggy colors usually more effective than brighter ones?

Rick J
09-20-2002, 09:30 AM
Not sure how important color is but light vs dark I think might be a factor. A dark fly early and late is probably more visible looking up. I know one of Joe Howell's favorite bugs on the N Umpqua is a purple muddler and I have had good success with it also - helps to riffle hitch it.

When October Caddis are around a rust color bug seems to work well but maybe that is because that is what I often have on!!??

09-20-2002, 11:29 AM
I agree w/ the sedge appeal - for me waking something that looks as much like a giant october caddis has been the most successful approach for me (e.g. sedge muddler, riffled).

Also works well pulled under on a light tip due to wiggle factor - the caddis is a frenetic flyer.

09-20-2002, 07:29 PM
I have never seen a steelhead rise for an October caddis. In fact the only time I have seen a steelhead activly rising for bugs was last fall when I encountered a small steelhead on a Columbia river trib rising consistently to a small brown caddis about a #14. I passed a steelhead caddis over him and he showed no interest nor in any other pattern.
Other that the light-dark issue already raised i don't think the color matters at all. In most of the water I use skaters in the fish only has a second or two to view the fly and make a decision. I think the strikes are much more reactionary than anything else. I don't believe they are taking it because they think it looks like a bug let alone being a specific bug.
I do my best on olive and tan, the reason for that is because thats what I fish most often.. I am sure any fish that would rise to an orange one would rise just the same way for a purple one, a pink one or a chartruse one..

09-20-2002, 08:22 PM
I find that unusual given where you fish a lot (SW). I have seen caddis chasers in that pool near the bridge on the Washougal, the Kalama around the Holy water, East Fork by the gravel quarry, etc. I've seen periwinkles (meaning local vernacular for caddis larval husks) pulled from the gullets of summer runs on numerous occasions on the Cow. I've over-mended a caddis bug and had it exploded on before it stopped skipping on the Snoqualmie. I've hooked four / landed three summer runs on a riffled caddis bug in just a few hours fishing on the Sky on a visit two years ago.

Regardless of what adults do, the life stages from larvae to pupae to adult all play a big part in the life cycle of a steelhead (least of all adult fish) and I have invoked the smolt in many an adult steelhead with a caddis on top.

Maybe they don't know what it is, maybe they do. But one of my other top producers is also a caddis, in a different life stage - and it's just as productive.

Count me as a caddis believer!

Rick J
09-21-2002, 12:11 PM
Steelhead do eat. In the upper runs of rivers I fish - the Trinity being the main one I have seen steelhead sipping mayflies just like trout. On the Feather one year we found a school of steelhead in a backwater channel - we used nymphs and dries (size 14 to 16) and they would swim over and open up - very light takes - only indication was if you saw them open their mouth on the nymphs.

Half pounders and to a lesser extent adults will grab small caddis in the evening on the Klamath.

This is not really color related but just shows that on some rivers it helps to have a few trout flies along!!

09-21-2002, 07:30 PM
I found at times that color makes a difference. I generally wake dark flies but when a fish refuse I have had good luck showing it another pattern (either different color or silhouette). For example,I would follow up a caddis with a steelhead bee or grey wulff.

I seen summer fish chase october caddis a number of times in the North Puget Sound area. Have noticed that they have poor success in catching them or my flies. Not uncommon to get only one hook up out of 3 or 5 fish rose.

While it isn't uncommon to find food items in the stomachs of steelhead has anyone else noticed that you can nearly always tell what the "food" was? With trout most of the stomach contents are just greu mush; with steelhead nearly always can identify every food item. While the fish take food items they don't seem to be able to digest it.

Tight lines

09-22-2002, 01:13 AM
Has anyone noticed how it effects success on big waters like the Thompson,Dean,and Skeena systems?

09-22-2002, 09:25 AM
Tonyd -
While I have limited experience with those fable waters of the North. The fish on the Morice/Buckley responded to by waking flies much the same as those on my home waters. The early moving fish came to the surface much more readily than those holding. Color seems to the least important of the factors in fishing waking flies. I would rate the factors as: presentation, presentation, presentation , size, silhouette, and finally color.

Having said that I do find that having a backup fly ready (different color and solhouette) to show to those fish that I moved and couldn't get to take seemed to add maybe 10% to my catch. Of course the surest way to get those fish to take would be show then a grease line presentation but then the fish will not be poking his nose through the surface.

Tight lines