Boise Valley Fly Fishers
Since 1971


Bug Corner: The Caviar Hatch

02 Jan 2024 7:34 PM | Troy Pearse (Administrator)

Matching the hatch is one of the hallmarks of fly fishing: Identify what food is available to the trout and fish a suitable imitation. Usually, we think about aquatic insects like caddis and mayflies, and if the adult insect isn’t available to fish on the surface we switch to fishing the nymphal form underneath the water. But there are some food sources that never hatch into bugs, yet fish love to eat them whenever they can. One of their favorite is caviar—that’s right, we are talking about fish eggs!

Some fly fishermen turn up their nose at fishing an egg pattern, likening it to fishing bait (cue Hank Patterson’s rant to Eric Moncada). But really, what’s the difference between imitating a caddis larva rolling along the bottom of the river and an egg? Both are natural food items, and if you know when eggs are in the water you can catch a lot of trout on an egg fly. Of course, while out fishing in the Fall you want to avoid fishing to brown trout that are actively spawning, and it is important to know how to recognize a trout redd and avoid wading through it which could crush eggs. Here is a short ReddUCation Video that BVFF put together that shows what a brown trout redd looks like.

Just like insect hatches, there are certain times that eggs fish best because they are more available. In November and December rivers are low, brown trout and whitefish are both spawning and believe me, fish notice all of those little balls of protein floating down the river. Brown trout eggs run about 4mm in diameter with whitefish eggs being half that size and their egg colors range from pale to bright orange. Brown trout lay their eggs into redds (nests) and cover them with gravel but mountain whitefish are broadcast spawners, meaning they don’t make a nest but instead discharge their eggs into a gravely riffle. An average trout lays between 2,000 to 3,000 eggs with a large trout laying 4,000 to 5,000 eggs and a typical mountain whitefish releases over 5,000 eggs with large females laying over 10,000 eggs!

On the Boise River, egg patterns are one of my most productive patterns in late Fall and Winter. Over the years I have fished many different egg patterns but my favorite is the Eggstacy. It is simple to tie and simply out-fishes the others. Eggstacy yarn is available in a variety of colors with my favorite colors being Sockeye and Fl Peach as shown in the photo. Here are instructions for tying the pattern and a video from TightLineVideos on Tying The Eggstacy. Note that when tying a whitefish egg imitation I size down the hook, skip the bead and trim the Eggstacy yarn to make a smaller egg pattern to better match the natural.

Eggstasy Egg Fly Pattern

Hook: #16 TMC 2457, heavy scud hook

• Bead: Gold, orange or pink 2.5mm bead

• Thread: Fluorescent orange, 70-denier or 8/0

• Body: 3-4 turns of Eggstasy yarn

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