I love fishing small streams for native brook trout. The scenery is beautiful, the fishing can be great, and it is just a great way to relax. There is nothing I enjoy more than heading off into a local forest, bamboo rod and wooden fly box in hand, ready for a day of brookie fishing. Now I do love fishing a technical fishery with my waders, vest, pounds of gear, and a dozen fly boxes, but part of the reason I enjoy fishing small brooks is because of the lack of gear. The only thing I carry when fishing small brooks is my rod (duh!), a small wooden fly box with an assortment of flies, and a lanyard with clippers and hemostats on them. I wear waders if its cold, but usually just wet-wade with sandals.
Today, I’m gonna focus on one of those three pieces of gear- the fly box. First off, I use a small custom wooden fly box that I got from a fair years ago, purely because I like the simplicity of it. Obviously, any fly box will work, because the patterns are what matter, not the box that holds them. But here I am going to list my top small stream patterns. I only carry 10 patterns in my small stream box, and I doubt those flies will ever change.
Without further ado, here they are…
San Juan Worm
Orange and Partridge
Beadhead Hares Ear Nymph
So that’s it; the ten patterns I carry for small streams. I’m not going to elaborate on each pattern, but I will give a brief summary. As you can see, I carry 3 nymphs (counting the San Juan Worm), 2 streamers, 1 soft hackle, and 4 dries. I usually try to fish dries for these small trout, hence the four dry flies, but sometimes you have to use nymphs to catch them. I carry relatively big dries, purely because I enjoy watching tiny brookies blow up on huge flies. The Orange and Hackle is a proven fish catcher, and is great for trout of any size. And the Kemp Bug and Blacknose Dace work well due to the aggressive nature of brookies. In a slightly larger or deeper brook, these flies are the best! And for nymphs, the Hares Ear needs no introduction, and is my go-to weighted nymph, and the Zebra Midge is the best fly for sight fishing for tiny brookies. As I mentioned the other day in my Swift River report, there are TONS of little brookies in the Swift. The are so small, that many of them can’t get a Hares Ear in their mouth. The only way to catch them is with a tiny Zebra Midge. Fish it under a tough of yarn if you want to drift it through the school, or without an indicator if you are sight fishing for a specific fish. Its also worth noting that these tiny brookies (like the ones at the Swift- 1-4 inches) can be caught on tiny dries.
Stock your boxes with some of these patterns, and give the small stream brookies a shot! I’ll write about a few good streams for targeting them later.