The Upper Delaware is one of the top wild-trout fisheries in the East, featuring cold, oxygen-rich water that provides an ideal foundation for the prolific bug life on which big trout thrive. As summer rolls in, these fish become increasingly cautious and educated, which means that drag-free drifts become crucial to success. While hatches are plentiful this time of year, the variety and sheer number of insects on the water often add to the angling challenge, giving the already snobby brown trout even more choices to refuse. While there is no silver bullet, here are my top 5 recommendations for dry flies to keep in your box this summer. (Click the fly name for more information or to buy.)
The densest sulphur hatches are in the coldest parts of the river, namely the West Branch and Upper East Branch.
2. Parachute Isonychia (sizes 10-14)
This often-overlooked mayfly is a staple here throughout much of the year. We fish them in size 10 during the early summer hatches, then drop to a size 12 as the hatch matures, finally going down to size 14 in the fall.
3. Elk Hair Caddis (size 18)
Caddisflies will typically hatch during the early morning before the sulphurs pop, but they can show up at any time, so keep an eye out for caddisflies on the water. Size 18 in tan is my go-to.
4. Blue-Winged Olive Sparkle Dun (sizes 16-22)
An excellent choice for a cloudy/rainy day. You’ll often find BWOs mixed in with other hatches, but due to their darker color, BWOs may not be as noticeable at first. When in doubt, throw a size 20 olive emerger instead.
I finish every day using this spent-mayfly pattern, and I often begin the early morning with it, as well.
Anita Coulton guides for 2019 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter of the Year Cross Current Guide Service on the Delaware River.