March 27, 2012

Spring Sucker Nymphing Tactics

Fly selection when working the spring spawning run can be critical. Hatches are very sporadic and light when they do occur and the pickings are slim, as there just isn't the diversity of emerging insects during early spring as you find later on in the season. Caddis and midge nymphs are always a safe bet to fish through out the year as they are always present. With early spring, however, I often think of the other March Madness, the stonefly hatch.

Staging fish aren't always interested in feeding, as they have one thing on their minds, spawning. And rarely do I find suckers feeding on the surface due to their subterminal mouths. So I fish low and slow. I like fishing tungsten weighted stonefly and drake nymph patterns like my Thunderbird, Boreal Bomber, and Fresh Pimp nymphs and bounce them along the bottom. Every so often a fish may take an emerging fly on the rise, at the end of the drift, but this is not typical during the prespawn phase. If you need more weight to reach bottom, throw on some extra lead. Suckers will hold tight to the bottom and will only feed if a fly is easy pickings. I like to utilize tightline nymphing during this time of year, as I can better detect the subtle takes. Bouncing the fly on the bottom using your rod tip will also add to the detection as well as help give your fly the appearance of a dislodged nymph tumbling along the bottom of the stream bed.

Fresh Pimp
This isn't bobber fishing or fishing for stockers, this is a numbers game. Getting your fly in the zone is crucial, as are the repeated runs and drifts of your nymph. Fish may spook and get lined, but they'll quickly roll back into their hold in the current seam, jockeying for precious spawning gravel real estate. It is to your advantage that you can keep drifting your fly through the zone in the hopes of an eventual hook up.

mayfly nymph
Your ROI (return on investment) may be low but if your put your time in, you will rack up the numbers of caught fish.


  1. I rarely find spawning suckers though others have. But, on a rarely fished river, due to the fact it is not stocked with trout and has huge deep "sucker holes", what the people call them, my partner and I fish for the unknown trout there and whitefish, and, suckers. With a type II sink tip I let a Scot Sanchez "Biot Bug" (my favorite small stonefly imitation,)slide over the sand in crystal clear water and watch the dark line for hits. These suckers in the spring take this fly like bait and have often hooked themselves. Love it.


  2. yes, those biot bugs are deadly! I also use my line/line tip as an indicator. I can't stand using bobbers to fly fish, but that's just me....

  3. thanks for the Quillback reminder. I went to the creek today and sure enough they were there.