Tuesday Tips: Top 10 (+1) Flies for the South Fork Snake River

Written by: Jaason Pruett, The Lodge at Palisades Creek


Matt McDonald (left) caught this 29-inch monster on a Sex Dungeon streamer, with the author.
Photos courtesy The Lodge at Palisades Creek

The South Fork of the Snake is an extremely productive fishery, offering native Snake River cutthroats, rainbows, cutt-bows, and browns. We often catch fish over 20 inches, but most fish fall in the 15- to 17-inch range. The South Fork starts with nymph fishing in the early summer, then transitions to dry-fly fishing by the end of June and through September, and fall offers great dry fly and streamer fishing. In my 19 years of guiding on the South Fork, I’ve developed a list of favorite patterns. Below are my Top 10:

Bring a selection of size and color of these flies anytime from May through October and we guarantee you will catch fish. Assembled by our head guide Jaason Pruett. 19 years guiding this river, exclusively:

[Click the name of each fly to be taken to a place to buy, a recipe, or a video.]

MAY

1. Cheater Belly Stonefly Nymph, sizes 2-8.
We fish this pattern all spring, until the salmonfly hatch. Its been a productive stonefly imitation for years.

LATE JUNE/EARLY JULY

2. Orange Water Walker, sizes 4-8.
This is one of our favorite salmonfly patters, and it works great twitched through flats areas.

JULY

3. J-Slam Golden Stone, sizes 4-10.
We fish this pattern to mimic both salmonflies and golden stoneflies.

JULY/AUGUST

4. Schroder’s Parachute Hopper, sizes 8 and 10.
We start throwing this fly during golden-stone season, and it’s a killer hopper imitation. Fish it hard to the bank, as well as in flats and riffles.

5. Orvis Lightning Bug, sizes 12-18.
This pattern works great as a dropper thrown to the banks and riffles. We don’t know why trout eat it, but the prevailing wisdom is that they take it for a caddisfly larva.

JULY/AUGUST/SEPTEMBER

6. Psycho May Nymph, sizes 14-18.
This fly almost all of our mayfly nymphs. We fish it under a big dry to the banks, riffles, and flats.

7. Pink Sparkle Dun, sizes 16-20.
This is a great PMD pattern for casting in the riffles and flats to rising trout. It may be hard to see, but it’s super effective.

8. Pink CDC Biot Dun, sizes 16-20.
Fished behind a Pink Sparkle Dun, this is one of my favorite flies. It’s a good choice to fool a picky fish.

9. Yeager Crack Back PMD, sizes 14-20.
I tie on this pattern when I find picky fish suspended in riffles. It’s also a great dropper fly in the flats.

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER

10. Sex Dungeon, sizes 2 and 4.
As the photo at the top of this page demonstrates, the Sex Dungeon can tempt the big browns in fall.

11. Tungsten Head Split Case BWO, sizes 18 and 20.
This is a great all-around pattern for fall fishing, before the tiny olives hatch.

Jaason Pruett is head guide at The Lodge at Palisades Creek in Irwin, Idaho.

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