A Killer Fly for the Swift River

Tailwater trout are finicky, given the abundance of food. Tailwater trout in catch and release areas, I suspect, are even more choosy.

That’s why the WD-40 fly has been fun to fish, particularly in the Swift River C&R area. It has fooled the wily rainbows there. 

Tied in a small size, like #28 to #32, it mimics a midge. In a #20, it is a Baetis. Some examples below.

I’ve never seen the fly sold at a local fly shop, and it makes me wonder that, perhaps, that is one reason it is so effective: trout don’t see it often. Anglers out west tell me they fish it all the time.

I believe pressured trout have good memories. After a few times getting hooked on a Wooly Bugger, it’s my belief that the wily Swift trout learn to avoid them. When they see another floating indicator plop down, they get out of the way (Tom Rosenbauer mentioned this in one of his podcasts).

So, I always try to find a fly that is under-hyped. Show the trout something new. The WD-40 is one of those curveballs I tie. And, I no longer use floating indicators (but, that will be a topic for another post).

I usually fish the WD-40 in a tandem nymphing rig.  Tim Flagler, who has a video on how to tie it, says it is one of his favorites to fish as a dropper. He seems like the type of angler with many hours logged on water and would know.

It’s a fly that I always have with me. It has led to Swift River winter rainbows, some of which were quite large. Some of them are featured below. 


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4 thoughts on “A Killer Fly for the Swift River

  1. That's awesome! Will definitely make sure to have a few of those for my next Swift trip. So for your basic rig, it's a slightly bigger midge trailed by a size 28-32 WD-40?

    1. Actually, for the lead fly, I usually use a non-midge. I don't use split shot, and so, need an anchor fly that has a tungsten bead on it.

      My favorites are versions of Pheasant Tails and Hare's Ears, as both mimic quite a few different bugs. I'll also sometimes use an unusual fly, to throw a curve ball.

  2. Ah, makes sense. I guess you want that to get down a decent ways below the surface. Do you use an indicator too? Thanks for sharing the tips!

    1. Happy to help!

      I don't use a floating indicator. I've found that it can create drag (current at the bottom of a river is very slow, while the surface chugs along), and I don't like how they crimp the leader, unless you use one of those New Zealand wool indicators.

      So, I use an in-line indicator, either a bi-color one made up of orange and gold mono, or a slinky indicator that Umpqua makes.

      All this is part of the "Euro-nymph" rig. Since I switched to that style rig, I'm catching more fish and bigger fish. I'll probably write about that one day, but there's plenty of good info online about it, both posts and videos. It's the style of fishing that fly fishermen in competitions use most often.

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