I had the day off yesterday and it seemed like near-perfect spring creek fishing weather, cloudy and minimal breeze, so I decided to spend some time on Armstrong Spring Creek. The fishing wasn’t as lights-out as I had hoped, but I managed to land a good number of healthy trout, both rainbows and browns.
I saw only a couple of stray baetis (blue-winged olive) mayflies all day. That spring hatch may have played itself out. However, there were a ton of midges about, and fish rising to them. Though my finesse casting was decidedly rusty, I was able to fool a couple of fish with a size 20 Sprout Midge dry. Had I thought to restock the midge dries in my spring creek box, I would have also tried a CDC Transitional Midge and a CDC Hanging Midge. That’ll teach me not to head to the spring creeks without a variety of patterns for the bugs I might encounter.
When I wasn’t casting to actively rising fish, the nymphing was productive. Not surprisingly, a black size 20 Zebra Midge was the hot fly. I had the midge as a dropper off a variety of small mayfly nymph point flies, but those were pretty much ignored. Go figure.
I was fishing with a 9′ 5X leader, which I lengthened with a couple of feet of 6X fluorocarbon tippet, tied in with a triple surgeon’s knot. I like the white Palsa foam pinch-on indicators, which don’t seem to alert the fish as much as brighter colored bobbers. The smallest size of Thingamabobbers in white are another good option. You don’t want to go with an indicator that’s too buoyant, like a bigger Thingamabobber, as you’ll miss a lot of the subtle takes. In all but the deepest water, I fish the nymphs without added weight. That does mean that your flies will take longer to reach the bottom, but I believe that they drift more naturally in the complex currents that way.
After every fishing trip, particularly one that wasn’t as successful as anticipated, I try to think back on what I might have done differently to catch more fish. Fly fishing is a constant learning process and too often we get fixated on what has worked for us in the past. I’m already mentioned the shortage of midge dry patterns in my fly box. I probably should have switched up my point fly once I caught several fish on the Zebra Midge and none on the mayfly nymph. I could have gone with a double midge rig, perhaps with one red and one black. Or I could have tried something completely different, such as a scud or sow bug.
Despite the lack of a mayfly hatch, now is a good time for locals to experience the Paradise Valley spring creeks, before the crowds of summer hit and the fish get more pressured. Never fished one of the spring creeks? Check out our previous post on what to expect.0