Here in the West, the Green Drake is the harbinger of summer. Dependably, our largest mayfly shows up within a few days of the summer solstice, give or take, and, if we happen to get some rain, this hatch can last for weeks.
Patterns used for these plus-size mayflies vary, from simply Blue-winged Olive patterns on steroids to something a bit more complex, like the comparadun version the legendary Bob Jacklin ties below.
And, depending on the timing of other notable hatches, like the the salmonfly hatch, for instance, the Green Drake is also among our first really dependable “big bug” hatches of the year. Their importance can’t be understated on rivers like the Henry’s Fork and the Yellowstone, but they are a vital part of the inland salmonid diet from New Mexico north to the Arctic.
Many anglers come to the conclusion that summer doesn’t start when the calendar says it does — we got a dump of heavy snow on the Henry’s Fork and the Madison less than a week ago — but rather when the drakes emerge and normally finicky fish are nosing the surface after cripples and spinners.
Check out how Jacklin ties his version of this venerable fly, and, with summer upon us in the West, you’d be wise to have a few in the fly box.
And, as a bonus at the end of the tying session, Jacklin shows you how to whip-finish a fly with your hands.