Egg patterns are a staple in my fly fishing and guiding.
Stocked trout are suckers for them, but even wild trout will gladly snack on them if you correctly put it in front of them most of the year. Several different egg imitations and sizes are available for fly anglers to fish with. Y2K’s, glow bugs, sucker spawn and nuke eggs are just a few of the variations out there. I’m all for using these effective egg patterns on the water, but there’s one very important thing fly fisherman need to understand about fishing egg patterns, and it needs to be respected. When trout eat egg patterns, they usually do so with total abandonment, and if you’re not quick to set the hook, you’ll find trout will end up getting hooked deep in their throat or gills a high percentage of the time.
I’ve noticed this a lot over the years with the clients I guide. They’ll be asleep at the wheel during their drift, and the strike indicator will bounce three or four times, and then take off before they finally get around to setting the hook. If you’re going to fish egg patterns, do the fish a favor and be ready to set the hook at the first sign of a bite, no matter how subtle it is. This will greatly cut down on your egg patterns being swallowed by the fish in the process, and you’ll be practicing respectful catch and release. If you aren’t willing to take this approach, keep your egg patterns stowed away in your fly box.
Some of you may be saying, “wait a minute Kent, it’s reasonable to think the same thing could happen with other fly patterns if you wait too long to set the hook, right?” Yes, but I’ve found the frequency of it happening is far less than when you’re fishing egg patterns. Just the other day on the water, I put this very argument to the test. My client had a banner day. We landed a great number of fish, of which, many came on our nuke egg dropper. My client was doing a brilliant job of making good presentations and fighting the fish, but he was regularly setting the hook too slow. The delayed hook sets contributed to multiple eggs being swallowed and/or hooked deep in the throat by the trout. I had no choice but to snip the flies off, or risk injuring the trout further trying to remove the fly. After a while, I decided to stop fishing the egg patterns all together, and informed my client it wasn’t anything personal, but the slow hook sets were causing us to harm the fish, and since we respected the trout so much, we needed to stow them away for the remainder of the day. My client agreed 100%. He had already landed plenty of fish, and he admitted it was a serious problem we needed to eliminate. So I took off the egg dropper, tied on a soft-hackle and we continued fishing. Bites came, slow hook sets remained, but every fish we landed in the net had the soft-hackle lodged directly in the corner of the trout’s mouth, not in the throat. If this isn’t strong evidence on how differently trout take eggs over other fly patterns, I don’t know what is.
Maybe we can Rig our egg patterns like our trout beads
Lastly, I’m going to start experimenting with rigging my egg patterns similar to how I rig my trout beads pegged above a bare hook. My hopes is that it will decrease the chances of gut hooking trout rigging them this way. I’ll try cutting off the hook on my egg pattern and tying it onto my tippet, but I’ll leave a long tag after tying my knot. I’ll then use the tag to tie on a small scud or egg hook (size 14), securing the hook about 2 – 2 1/2″ inches below my hookless egg. I’ll be reporting back with a comment in about a week to let you know if it performs the same as my trout bead rig, where a trout eats the bead and when we set the hook, it slides the bare hook into the corner of the trout’s mouth.
Remember this post next time you’re fly fishing for trout with egg patterns. Keep your eyes on the strike indicator at all times and set the hook the instant it signals a possible strike. The fall and winter are great times of the year to fish egg patterns. Spawning fish put them on the daily food menu of trout and the cold water temperatures seem to increase their effectiveness further.
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