By Kyle Vaughan
As a fly fishing guide, two of the most common questions I am asked are: “How do you pick out flies to fish?” and “What fly should I use during [insert a month or season]?”
The answers to those two questions could be loaded with countless thoughts, theories and personal preferences. There are a number of factors involved in choosing the right fly. But, when it comes to fooling trout in Western North Carolina, it can also be pretty simple. For example, if someone asks what fly to use in May or June in our region, my answer is “anything yellow.” Mid-May through June is prime fishing season in WNC. The majority of active hatches in the trout streams of WNC are some shade of yellow this time of year—yellow nymphs or dry flies imitating a stonefly or mayfly can be productive during this time.
One of my favorite fly imitations to use this time of year is a yellow sally dry fly. These small stoneflies fly around a mountain stream, land to lay eggs and then the trout rise out of the water to feed—it’s an astonishing sight. Even better is when a trout rises to your dry fly that is drifting over their head.
There are two variations of yellow sally dry flies that I prefer to fish this time of year. These preferred dry flies are essentially the same shape with sparsely hackled bodies, but they ride in the water in slightly different ways, which can be beneficial if the trout are being particular on which fly they take.
The Spotlight Yellow Sally is tied on a curved hook with a parachute post and hackle. The hackle will keep the fly riding on the water’s surface while the parachute post makes it more visible to the angler. The red-dyed, vernille body allows the butt section of the fly to ride submerged in the water, perfectly imitating an egg-laying yellow sally.
The Hairwing Yellow Sally is a simple dry fly that uses a red floss butt to represent the egg sack that one would see on a flying adult yellow sally. It has a head and wings made of bleached elk hair, and sparse hackling that is effective and closely mimics the real insect. This fly rides higher on the water than the Spotlight, due to the hackle being palmered rather than a parachute.
If you are planning to hit the water to fly fish this month in WNC, fishing any shade of yellow fly will increase your chances. The trout are keying in on the yellow hatches of stoneflies and mayflies, so that’s what you need to mimic to fool them. Stop by your local fly shop and outfitter to pick up a few yellow flies and to get some local knowledge that could help you out on the stream.
Kyle Vaughan is outfitter manager at DB Bar D Outfitters. Learn more at DBbarD.com.