Know Your Bugs: Insect Entymology that Matters

We fly fishermen are an odd bunch. We’ll drop big bucks on rods and reel practically guaranteed to catch big fish,  endlessly browse fly shop bins, and pack more tools into a sling pack than is needed to climb Everest. But when it comes to one the most important aspects of our sport, studying what trout actually eat, we treat it like someone asked us to do their calculus homework.
It ain’t that hard, people! They’re just bugs.

What the hell is that, a Cheeto?
Salmonflies on the Blackfoot are a hatch so prolific even Frito Lay gets in on the action.

Knowing your bugs is the best connection to better fishing you can make. The ability to identify hatches, predict what hatches are likely, and make better fly choices is what separates the slough-raiding psudeo-Rapala slinging boys from the hooked-up-come-tricos men. So buck up, billy. We’re getting into it.

Come the fall Trico hatch on the Clark Fork, it might be helpful to at least know what you’re going for. This trico attached itself to the truck while an angler attached a size 20 imitation to a rainbow trout’s lip on the Clark Fork, September 2013.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we’ll hit western Montana’s big hatches, and as many of the smaller ones as we can in brief, easy to digest chunks. Armed with a bit of extra knowledge and a box of flies to match, you’ll be hooking into more fish this season, tying better flies and basically looking pretty badass in lots more of those grip and grin instagram hashtag twitter things the kids are all hopped up on these days.

Not caught on a streamer. Can you say, “dry fly eats”?
You’ll be saying it a lot more with some bug knowledge under your belt.

It can’t be emphasized enough: better bug knowledge means better fishing. Guides know it, the old guy with the crusty Filson hat and the sheepskin patch full of rusty flies knows it, and you know it too. If you’re an old pro, this series might be old hat but review is good for keeping those aging synapses limber. If you’re one of the young guns slapping big chunks of marabou to size 2s and getting after it, bug knowledge will give you more to talk about on twitter. If you’re fish-obsessed like us, you’re ready to get this party started. Look for our first “Know your Bug” pinup Monday morning while the boss is still at the coffee station, and get ready to see bugs in a whole new light.

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