5 Tips for Fly Fishing the Green Drake Hatch

Photo by Josh Belvill

-Tip #1 Move It

The Green Drake is not a graceful mayfly. Throughout it’s time on the surface, it seems to be in motion, whether struggling to leave the water or being buffeted by the wind and current. There are definitely times when a slightly twitched Green Drake will move fish in Montana. A sign that the fish are looking for movement is a strike when you’re starting the back cast. We’ve all had that happen when fly fishing. The trout is trying to tell you it wants a moving fly!

-Tip #2 Use Thicker Tippet

The Green Drake is a sizable mayfly, so the conventional wisdom of using the lightest tippet possible doesn’t always apply. With a size 8 fly, you can go all the way up to 2X depending on conditions! Why would you use such a large tippet? It helps turn the fly over and improves accuracy. It keeps your leader from twisting during casting. And finally, thicker tippet helps you hold the fish in the faster water that prevails during late June in Montana. It pays to adjust your leader when you find the trout feeding on Green Drakes.

-Tip #3 Be Ready For Big Strikes

The Green Drake hatch can provoke some very big strikes. Trout can’t always hold close to the surface during the emergence due to the fast water. Yet the Green Drake is a big meal, which means trout will come from a relatively long way away to eat them. A trout busting up from the bottom to intercept a Green Drake will often hit the surface at some speed. Don’t let it throw you off. Be ready and set the hook!

-Tip #4 Use The Cripple

With the Green Drakes style of emergence, and clumsiness on the surface, quite a few end up as cripples. A cripple can be a nymph that didn’t fully emerge. Cripples can also be an adult whos wings have become stuck to the surface, either by being blown over or just by tipping over. Either way, the trout recognize this, and will definitely take a cripple over an adult. The downside is they’re more difficult to see, but they work.

-Tip #5  Go Bigger

Again, the Green Drake goes against conventional fly fishing wisdom. If you’re getting refusals to your fly, or good drifts and no takes, go to a bigger imitation. Often, a bigger imitation will entice the trout to move the longer distance. Big catches their attention, and promises more calories, so it makes the trip to the surface worth it!

Additional Green Drake Resoures