Monday, November 26, 2012

New Favorite Stocker Trout Fly Patterns

The IDNR continues to expand its successful Urban Trout Program to more small lakes across Iowa.  Having fished several of these lakes for trout, I will say fly anglers catch a LOT more of these "stocker trout" than do the folks using spinning gear (lures or bait).  In fact, defying all logic, the bait-fishers (using worms, minnows, corn, or scented prepared baits) seem to catch the fewest trout.  They still catch SOME, so if this is your preferred method, have at it.  For those wanting to try flyfishing for these trout, you are in for a FUN time!

The first thing you must do is forget the "wild stream trout" approach.  Realize these fish are fresh from the hatchery, where they have been raised solely on pelleted food.  They don't know what a grasshopper, mayfly or caddisfly is yet, for example.

Fish get wise to some patterns, or I learn of or create new patterns, so "favorite patterns" do change over time.  The following are some patterns that have been working very well for me over the past year.
The standard fly pattern for stocker trout is a beadhead Woolly Bugger.  Color combinations are nearly limitless, so try your favorites.  One of my favorites is tied with a black tail (marabou or rabbit), olive body, and black hackle palmered up the body.  Gold beadhead.  Thats the pattern I usually start with.  I let the fish tell me if it ISN'T what they want.  If this doesn't work, then I usually go with one of the next two patterns listed in this post.


Chili Pepper:  Rather than duplicate pictures/recipes/tying instructions, I will just direct you to this website:
Basically, it is a beadhead woolly bugger heavy on copper flash materials.

I tied mine using a #8 2xl Nymph/Streamer hook, a copper beadhead, and rootbeer marabou for the tail.  This caught a lot of trout for me, although one day I did get to watch a lot of trout follow but NOT hit it.  It happens.  Nevertheless, I definitely recommend this pattern for stocked trout.  Try it and see what the trout think!
I tied the following intending it to represent a soggy trout pellet, so for now lets call it the "BH SoftHackle Trout Chow".  When visible pods of trout are present, this pattern has worked extremely well for me using a retrieve or even under an indicator for less aggressive fish.

Hook - #10 1XL Nymph hook of your choice
Thread - 6/0 UniThread color of your choice (black used in the above picture)
Bead - your choice brass or glass bead
Body - tan dubbing, dubbed heavily and brushed out (can be reinforced with wire ribbing for extra durability)
Hackle - soft hackle feather of your choice ( I prefer hen pheasant, India hen, or grouse)

The bushy tan body seems to be the trigger, since the pattern continues to catch trout even after the hackle has been destroyed.  Works with a retrieve and also beneath an indicator. I sometimes also add a tail of turkey... Looks good and works....but doesn't seem necessary.


Blue Thunder Streamer
I've talked about this Ian Colin James pattern before.  I really like it.
For some reason, the purple Flashabou is difficult to find.  I've tied it like its supposed to be this:

I've also tied this pattern like this:

And also like this:
All versions work well.  Adjust the size to suit your needs.  For stocker trout, #8 and #10 hooks seem the best choice.

White Woolly Bugger
Try this.  Some days the fish just prefer white.  If they aren't falling all over themselves for the darker Woolly Bugger patterns, this just might be what the fish are trying to tell you they want!  I usually tie my white Woolly  Buggers for stocker trout without any extra weight, and often with white rabbit fur for the tail, and a white softhackle feather palmered up the shank over the white yarn or chenille body.

Springbrook Wunder microjig (gold, or color of your choice)
I tie these on 1/80th or 1/100th oz microjigheads.  This works especially well when you are using an indicator, and the fish keep striking at your indicator.  Put this 8"-12" beneath the indicator:


  1. I really like those soft hackles. They look great!!

  2. Thanks! The fish sure liked them.
    I will say that the Chili Pepper has been the most effective fly pattern for stocker trout this Fall. It has caught fish pretty much every time I've used it. Some of the other patterns are spotty...some days they LOVE 'em...other days you can't buy a fish on them. The Soft Hackle Trout Chow was probably the 2nd most consistent fish catcher. It is smaller and less visible in the water than the Chili Pepper, so for blind casting it, my confidence is less with it. When trout are visible within casting range, however, it has worked excellent.