Fly fishers know that terrestrials and August go hand-in-hand. Terrestrials are insects that grow and reside on land rather then in the air or water. Some common examples of terrestrials that we fly fishers try to emulate are grasshopper, crickets, beetles and ants. Progressively as we move farther along into the month of August there will be less and less aquatic insects available to the trout. Because of the lack of other aquatic insects, terrestrials will fill this void in the trout’s diet. With the fall and winter months already knocking at our doorstep, terrestrials make up a huge part of a trout’s diet before their winter slumber. Just like many animals that hibernate, trout too will gorge themselves on as many larger insects to store up their reserves to combat those long winter months.
Terrestrials are clumsy insects; often they take a wrong step and end up floating merrily down the river. Trout being opportunistic feeders will more often then not take advantage of these insects in peril and pounce with such tenacity that you would think it was a great white shark attacking a baby fur seal. Terrestrials are high in caloric value; one hopper theoretically could equal the nutritional value of 100 or so tiny midges.
Those new to fly fishing are in luck! Perfect presentations and fine tippets are not necessary when fishing your favorite terrestrial patterns. Short leaders, heavier tippets and sloppy drifts will often take the most discerning trout. I recommend fishing your favorite terrestrial patterns under overhanging tree limbs or branches, undercut banks, and grass-lined banks. These areas tend to hold trout that are keying in on these insects; they are literally lurking in the shadows waiting for any and all mishaps. To increase your hookups, I would also recommend fishing a nymph pattern below your hopper. This way you are fishing two different patterns in two different parts of the water column.
Some great terrestrial patterns that we are currently fishing are: Amy’s Ant in olive or red, Chernobyl Ants in tan, Cicada’s, Green Machines, Fat Albert’s in yellow or black, Red Legged Hoppers, BC Dropper Hopper in yellow, Chubby Chernobyl in red or tan, Cinnamon Fur Ants, Foam Flying Ants in brown or black, Red Butt Ant and Fire Beetles. If you enjoy fishing large flies to fish lying in wait, then terrestrial season is the season for you.
” Jim Kanda | Gore Creek Fly Fisherman
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