Sulphurs. Lots and lots of sulphurs. A lot of people tend focus on the insanity of the evening’s spinner fall without thinking about the just as productive — if a bit more unpredictable hatch. With the millions of nymphs necessary to create that epic spinner fall, just think about how many bugs trout manage to get ahold of before they take to the wing.
Tim Flagler shows off one of my favorite styles of sulphur patterns. You can hang this one under an indicator, drop it off the back of a dry fly, swing it in front of log jams or grease it up and fish it like a dry fly.
Fishing through the day (even a week or so before the hatch starts) with this under an indicator or on a tight line drift can be a killer tactic. As the afternoon progresses, start letting your flies rise a bit at the end of your drift, or just swinging this fly with a down and across presentation. Keep an eye out for the splashy rises that indicate the bugs are starting to hatch. Sulphurs don’t spend much time on the water, but greasing this fly and fishing it in the film gives shows the fish the impression of a cripple, or stuck-in-the-shuck mayfly that they can’t refuse.
There’s no reason to wait for the spinner fall to fish sulphurs. If you’ve got a full day to get out there, fish the full lifecycle — I think you’ll be surprised how quickly the spinner fall comes after a day full of catching fish.