Spring is a great time to target trout on rivers. After a long close season the fish are keen to get some weight back on and they can often be that little bit easier to catch. Successful spring fishing usually occurs around midday when things warm up a bit to allow a hatch of insects. The most prolific flies at this time of the year are March Browns and, of course, Large Dark Olives. However, if you are prepared and arrive at the water armed with nymphs and wet flies then fish can be caught throughout the day.

When it comes to fishing early season on rivers it often pays to fish a team of flies early and late in the day. Try a mix of spider patterns and nymphs. The nymphs will fish that little bit deeper in the water with the spiders covering the upper layers. More water will be covered this way, increasing your chances of catching.

With any kind of surface activity it’s often best to go with a single dry fly and to target individual trout. Make a point of fishing upstream towards rising trout because you will be less visible to the fish this way.

A 9ft 5-wt rod is the ideal tool for the job. Couple this with a floating line and 4lb leader when fishing a team of flies, keeping them around three feet apart. When fishing a dry fly on the surface you may need to come down in breaking strain and tippet diameter. Take some degreasant for your leader; this will take the shine off the material and help it cut through the surface film. Also make sure you carry some form of floatant that can be applied to your dry fly to make it sit nicely on the surface.


Top Dropper

If there was ever a fly that was synonymous with river fishing, then this is it. It’s a great all-round pattern that can bring fish up whatever the time of year. The fly looks like an insect that is trying to hatch at the surface and, as such, the fish find it irresistible.

Black Gnat
This is another fly that does the damage the length and breadth of the country. Tied in various sizes, this pattern will also take fish throughout the season. Smaller sizes work best at this time of the year, with larger ones coming into their own in early summer.

Middle Dropper

Partridge And Orange
The Partridge And Orange is an excellent spider pattern that fishes really well on the top dropper. It’s a really good taking pattern when any flies are coming off the water. It will also fish well before and after a hatch.

Waterhen Bloa
This is a fly that has been doing the rounds for centuries and one that is just as good today. It may not look much but it’s a proven fish taker. Again, this is one for the top dropper, is suggestive of hatching olive nymphs and will, therefore, catch virtually all year round.


Pheasant Tail Nymph
This is a favourite all-round nymph and an excellent pattern to boot. It’s a particular favourite of anyone that has access to southern chalkstreams but it can be used to great effect on any river. This pattern fishes well anywhere on the cast but performs best as a point fly.

Czech Nymph
Since the Czech team came over in 1990 and opened our eyes to the effectiveness of ‘bottom bouncing’ patterns, these nymphs have proved very popular. By using different amounts of lead underneath the dressing, this nymph gets down to where it matters, the riverbed, and, as such, picks up fish whatever the time of year.

Total Fly Fisher