By Jason Tucker
Having recently returned from Labrador, I got to try a lot of different tactics, techniques and flies.
It’s the benefit of being able to fish all day, every day, for a week. We fished everything from dry flies to streamers to nymphs.
Labrador had it all—copious hatches of both mayflies and caddis, with fish rising steadily or cruising and taking flies. They hit streamers aggressively, and they took mice on top as well.
You would think fish that see so few anglers would take anything you threw at them, but that assumption is dead wrong. They were picky about what caddis fly you presented. Mayfly patterns had to be the right size. Even the pike wouldn’t hit an olive streamer.
We both brought every fly box we owned and a huge pile of flies. Here is what caught fish.
Cone Head Madonna in Yellow
Like most places in North America, sculpins are found in Labrador in abundance. I know there’s a plethora of great and traditional patterns out there. This is a great pattern and easy to tie. I tied a variety of colors for the trip, but yellow with a white body out-fished every fly on the trip. It caught pike, the Atlantic salmon pounded them with abandon, and I got my biggest brook trout, a four-pound male, on this fly.
I tied up a bunch of these in size 14 before the trip. Caddis are a big deal up there, hatching daily, and at times achieving blanket hatch status. Skating and twitching a Goddard caddis was incredibly effective, both sight casting to rising fish, and blind casting to blank water. We caught big brook trout on them, and got several nice Atlantic salmon just making random casts.
Great Lakes Deceiver in Cotton Candy
I took my muskie box on this trip, due to the fact that we always catch lots of pike on those flies. I couldn’t get pike in Labrador to touch those giant flies. What worked was the 6” GLD in cotton candy. This was the go-to pike fly. It seemed to be the right size and color. White worked like magic, but the fish wouldn’t touch green, olive and some other pike colors. Yellow worked well, too. My biggest pike of the trip hammered this fly. It was 36 inches and 13 pounds.
A white or rainbow pattern Murdich minnow was my second choice, and definitely more durable than the Great Lakes Deceiver, but they really seemed to go for that pause and turn action of the deceiver.
White Woolly Bugger
You’ve got to love a classic. Their website said to bring woolly buggers, so I tied some up. I managed to catch a couple of really nice landlocked Atlantic salmon and even a lake trout on a white woolly bugger. They say black works very well there too, but leave the olive at home.
Toward the end of the week we started fishing mouse patterns in earnest. We didn’t get the big fish we were after, but caught a number of small to mid-teen brook trout on them. I’m sure if we kept at it we would have gotten a dinger. The brookies were definitely aggressively hitting mice, so it was just a matter of time. We fished a variety of gurgler patterns with natural hair bodies. Mice were also absolutely deadly on pike, which would smash them without hesitation. As a matter of fact, we did a whole afternoon’s photo shoot of pike smashing mice, as every pike in a pool would take their turn sharking our flies. It was fantastic.
While we caught fish on a variety of flies on this trip, these five patterns caught the bulk of our fish. If I were to go back, I’d stock my fly boxes with these flies and build out from there.
Tie the Conehead Madonna
Jason writes the fine blog Fontinalis Rising
Jason TuckerGink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!