Match the Hatch Fly Fishing

In this lesson, we will go into specific tips that will help when you’re scouting for MONSTER trout. I would like to start with what you need to know before you even get to the water.


If you’re watching this video, you’re most likely very familiar with the Drifthook Fly Fishing System. You feel confident with your fly box and the seasonal hatch chart, and you want to be able to even more closely match what’s in the water that you’re fishing. You’re ready to take it to the next level.

If you’re not familiar with Drifthook Fly Fishing System, go back to intermediate lesson 2 about the system to become more familiar with the basics before you dive into this lesson.

You can be almost as successful using the seasonal hatch chart with the fly boxes as you can with the system I'm about to show you, but if you're ready to be as precise as possible, this is the way to go.

Before we dive into how to use a bug seine to sample the water, let's recap our major orders of insects and their stages so you can be familiar with them as you’re sifting through your newly found aquatic insects. For this lesson, we’ll be discussing the Nymph and Emerger stages, as these will be the specimens that you will be gathering with your seine.

If you’re interested in matching the hatch for Dry Fly fishing, check out the advanced lesson on Dry Fly Fishing for Success.

The five orders of flies in our program can be simplified into these groups.







The following slides will show illustrations of each stage of these orders and will help you to recognize them easily on the water.

1. Midge - Nymph Stage
• Typically has worm-like movements
• Has no noticeable front set of legs
• Most likely the smallest insect when you check your seine

2. Midge - Emerger Stage
• It looks almost identical to a midge nymph, but you will be able to notice a small bubble or husk on its underside that is the wings of the midge as it’s emerging to the surface.

3. Mayfly Nymph
• The easiest way to recognize this insect is to look for three tails. This is also a good way of picking out your flies if you don't know what they are called or how they are used. Look for the pattern that has three distinct long tails. Some fly patterns only have two, but they still mimic the mayfly.
• Look for single pronged feet. Compared to the Midge and Mayfly, these will be noticeable.

4. Mayfly Emerger
• Mayfly Emergers will have prolonged wings and a husk on their lower half as they emerge to the surface.

5. Caddis Nymph
• Look for caddis casings. When a river has caddis, you will find prominent clusters of these under rocks and in your seine.
• Caddis also have a lot more legs than mayflies and only one tail.

6. Caddis Emerger
• These are going to be harder to find as it is a very messy presentation from Nymph to them getting to the surface, and they emerge at a faster pace, so it’s rare that you get a chance to see the emergence.
• When trout are rising and you’re only seeing backs or tails, most likely they are devouring Caddis Emergers.

7. Stonefly Nymph
• It only has two tails
• The feet have two toes
• Typically much larger than mayflies

You can download these slides in the downloads section of the Members Portal to keep on hand when you head to the water.

Now let's dive into what a bug seine is and how to use it.

A bug seine is a mesh fabric used to gather live specimens from water to determine what fly to use when fly fishing. One of the easiest ways to make a seine is to buy a 5-gallon paint strainer from your local hardware store and wrap it around your fly fishing net.

Now that we have the seine attached to our net, we will take four samples from the water to receive a more accurate collection and to determine our aquatic life in the body of water that we are fly fishing.

The best place to use your seine is in faster water in a current seam. The floating organisms will collect along these current seams. These areas are also areas where trout reside, as they are the areas where food is readily available.

Step 1.

Place the seine in the current and count to 20. Lift the seine out of the water and inspect your catch.

Step 2

Place your net/seine downstream of you and slowly start walking downstream with it. During this capture, try not to kick up items from the bottom. This will show us what is emerging and what the fish are seeing as an insect life is emerging downstream. Just go a few steps and then take a look at what you have captured.

Step 3

This time we are going to purposely kick up the bottom of the river. Make sure you are allowed to do this in your waters as it is illegal in some waters, such as the San Juan River in New Mexico. By doing this, it will give us a broader view of all of the insects and food that are currently residing in the water.

Step 4

Please pick up a rock and see what is on it. Make sure to turn it over as a lot of nymphs will reside on the bottom side of stones as well.

Now that we have done a thorough evaluation of the specimens in the water, let's take a look at our fly box and find the pattern that best matches them. From what we have pulled, I can tell that the majority of the insect life in this particular water during this time of the year is:

I have put these into a separate container, and I'm going to compare them to what I have in my box. I am using the Drifthook Pro Nymph Fly Box, and I'm choosing a few different patterns that I feel would replicate the ones I found. I'm not getting too detailed, as the look of the fly will change in the water as it gets wet. I will typically start with three choices to make my decision.

Then I add water to the mix and see what fly mimics my findings the closest. I will start with this fly.

I continue this with the second-most found insect and use that as my second fly in a two-fly nymphing rig.

If you check out our seasonal chart, you will notice that these specimens for this time of the year are consistent with the table.