Written by: Chuck Hawkins, Hawkins Outfitters
Kirk Deeter, writer for the Field and Stream blog, once said that he believes that Michigan is the top fly-fishing state in the union. One of the main reasons he believes this is that tremendous diversity of species, water types, and weather that we have in the Great Lakes State. We boast excellent trout, steelhead, and salmon fishing in our cold waters. Plus our warmwater fisheries for smallmouth bass, largemouths, pike, muskies, and carp are top notch.
Due to the large number of species that Hawkins Outfitter’s guides pursue, I’ve decided to limit this list to only coldwater species: trout, steelhead and salmon. Trout in most locations in Michigan will eat one of the following four patterns for most of our hatches.
1. Parachute Adams (created in Michigan)
The Borcher and Robert’s Yellow Drake are old time proven patterns created on the Manistee and AuSable Rivers. All of these patterns I carry in size 10 to 18, and they get used to imitate a large variety of mayflies.
5. Wet Skunk
A simple weighted Wet Skunk fished on a floating line near the structure can produce at times when nothing else will.
Streamer fishing is a staple for our big, difficult trout. My three favorite streamers are all my own patterns sold by Orvis. I fish all of them on a 250-grain Hydros 3D sinking-tip line:
7. Hat Trick
9. Clown Egg
The Clown Egg will fool most salmon and steelhead.
10. Parr None
The Parr None streamer is a great pattern for early spring in the Midwest, or any river with a migration of salmon parr. Brown trout, steelhead, pike, and any other predator fish will focus on parr (both Chinook and Coho) as they migrate down the river system.