Videos: Three Terrific Patterns for “Trico Time”


Tricos (genus: Tricorythodes) provide some of the best late-summer action on the Battenkill, so here are three killer patterns from Tightline Productions. (And don’t miss the fabulous video above, from John Arnold of Scumliner Media.) Fishing these tiny bugs can be frustrating, especially when the fish get selective. The late Al Miller fished the Tricos on Pennsylvania’s Little Lehigh River for 45 years, so he knew a thing or two about what patterns work best. In the late 1990s, he developed a remarkably simple yet effective fly that lacks wings or tails. Miller said that he originally left these features off the fly because he couldn’t see well enough to attach them to such a tiny hook, but the pattern turned out to be his most productive Trico imitation ever.

          Al’s Trico
          Hook: Standard dry-fly hook (e.g. TMC100), size 24.
          Thread/abdomen: Black, 8/0 or 70-denier.
          Hackle: Size 20 grizzly or light dun hackle.
          Thorax: Black dry-fly dubbing.
          Note: Trim the hackle on the bottom, if you like.

Female Tricos hatch in the morning, while the males usually hatch at dark. But anglers really love the spinnerfalls, which usually happen not long after the morning hatch. Standing in the river, watching a could of mating Tricos, and waiting for the first spinners to hit the water is what angling anticipation is all about. Because you know that when those flies start dropping, the trout will start rising. This great imitation, designed by Eric Stroup, uses just three materials—a hook, some thread, and some hair from the foot of a snowshoe rabbit.

          Trico Spinner
          Hook: 2X-short emerger hook (e.g. Dai-Riki #125), size 20.
          Thread/abdomen: Black, 8/0 or 70-denier.
          Wing: Snowshoe-rabbit-foot hair.
          Head: Tying thread.

I love seeing the clouds of mating insects buzzing above the water and then watching the spent spinners fall to the water, where trout wait expectantly. But I find it difficult to see some Trico patterns on the water, which can be frustrating. This parachute version should be just the ticket.

          Trico Parachute
          Hook: 1X-fine dry-fly hook (here a TMC100), size 20-24.
          Thread/abdomen: Black, 6/0 or 140-denier.
          Tails: Dark dun Microfibbets.
          Tail separator: Tying thread tag end.
          Wingpost: White EP Trigger Point Fibers.
          Hackle: Light dun hackle.
          Thorax: Black Australian possum dubbing.
          Head: Tying thread.

One thought on “Videos: Three Terrific Patterns for “Trico Time””

  1. Thanks for the timely post.

    As I enter the old age of my youth (or more precisely the youth of my old age) I still love to fish Tricos but visibility is becoming more and more of an issue.

    I have all but abandoned patterns that float completely flush. Parachutes are tricky for me to tie in those sizes so my solution is a simple pattern:

    Tail: hackle or synthetic fiber. Sparse (three or four fibers
    Body: black thread
    Thorax: black fur.
    Hackle: light dun or grizzly – three or four wraps through the thorax.

    After tying off the fly I clip the fly on the bottom so I get a flush float but can see the fly better because the hackle fibers on top are like a parachute post.

    The persnickety 8″ Battenkill brookies that I curse over don’t seem to care (sometimes I notice the spinners drifting with upright wings) and usually by the end of August when they have seen a few million flies over the course of the previous month it really doesn’t matter what fly you use – the fish are going to turn their nose up at it.

    That said, an old Battenkill hand told me earlier this year that a small red ant can turn the trick later in the season. Something I will try.

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