Tip of the week: find the tiny BWO the trout will eat

It’s fall on the Farmington, and that means it’s time for tiny Blue-Winged Olives. Depending on your point-of-view, this hatch can be a blast or a scourge. The flies are small (20-26), but when conditions are right (frequently overcast, damp days), the trout will line up and sip them for hours.

So, what do you do when you’ve got the hatch matched, the right leader/tippet (12-15 feet is a good length to start), your presentation is spot on a feeding lane, drift is drag-free, and you get…nothing? Or worse, a refusal? It might be that you’ve got the wrong fly. Experience has taught me that sometimes the same size fly in a different style makes all the difference. So carry a bunch of different style dries, and enjoy the tiny BWOs of fall.

My tiny BWO dry fly arsenal includes, from left, comparadun, comparadun with Z-lon shuck, parachute, Pat Torrey’s Tiny BWO soft hackle, and foam wing. The trout sometimes favor one of these over another, and the only way to figure it out is to cycle through patterns. By the way, this concept applies to other tiny hatches, like midges.