First Tuesday Tips

Tip 6 : Experience the Hex Hatch at Least Once (or Twice)

(This is Tip 271 in Skip's book, 365 Fly Fishing Tips for Trout, Bass, and Panfish)

This First Tuesday Tips: Tip 6 applies to Trout in Streams and Trout in Lakes. 

First Tuesday Tips: Tip 6, Experience the Hex Hatch at Least Once (or Twice)

Hexagenia duns—by North American mayfly standards, mastadons.
(photo ©Carol Ann Morris)

The Hexagenia mayfly is a yellow giant. You mostly hear about it hatching in the Midwest, but Hexes hatch in the Far West, too. Apparently various species hatch in the East and even down into the American South.

A Hex hatch can be inspiring. Stout mayflies whose bodies cover half a man’s thumb, fluttering all around; trout, perhaps truly big trout, up swirling in a silvery gleam from the last sliver of the day’s light; a profusion of the great yellow bugs scattered across black water. . .

That last sliver of light is part of the bargain—Hexes normally wait until near dark to appear (although they can start earlier on really cloudy, perhaps drizzly days). This means you’re out on a river or a lake from almost full night to, in fact, full night—so know where you’re going to fish and go out and come back wisely and safely. (Hexes hatch from lakes and rivers both—from wherever, as burrowing nymphs, they can find that perfect silt they require.)

You’ll need big flies that look like Hexagenia, typically nymphs, emerger flies, and dries in the West, but often imitations of the spinner, I’ve often read, outside the West. (I don’t know why the difference.) And the flies need to approximate the size of the huge bugs; hooks should be at least size 8, 2X long, up to—gasp—size 2, 2X long (one of my books says 4X long).

You arrive a bit early, launch your boat or inflatable craft or sit where you can stake out your wade-fishing water, and finally (at least when I chase Hex hatches) about the time you’ve given up hope—they come.

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