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Different Drake Fly Fishing Hatches

Fishing for trout is some of my favorite fishing!

First of all, what is a drake?
A drake is a species of the mayfly.

Green Drakes

The green drake is the largest and it is one of the most common types of mayflies. They are native to the United States and Canada. A green drake is easy to identify from its bright green color and the large upright wings, as shown in the image above. The green drake term can refer to as many as 10-15 species around the world. Canadian and American anglers will encounter the 2 main green drake mayflies. These are the Western Green Drake and the Eastern Green Drake.

The nymphs tend to live in freshwater rivers and lakes with sandy and or muddy bottoms. The adult flies known as spinners will stay close to the water where they hatched from.

Like most types of fly hatches, the green drake can be fished at all the various stages of the hatch. If you would like to know more about the different stages of the mayfly hatch, you can check out our blog post on that hatch process here. You will want to have multiple different flies for each stage. From nymphs to cripples to spinner patterns.

What makes the green drake hatch stand out, is that normally there isn’t a substantial number of natural flies on the water which makes your fly not have as much to compete with. Other types of fly hatches can see an overwhelming number of flies on the water which can make getting the fish to bite your hook more difficult. The green drake emergence lasts about a week or more.

I live in Western Canada, so I can expect the drake hatches to occur around the later part of May into early July, when the water is at a warmer temperature. The best time of day to fish these hatches are at dusk and into the dark. Green drakes are larger flies which means larger fish are coming out to eat. As an angler, I get excited for the chance at landing these monsters in my net!


Fishing The Green Drake Hatch

Fishing the green drake hatch has its challenges. You will want to be mindful of your fly presentation on the water. I suggest making it drag free and add a little action to your fly to provoke a bite. If the fish are visible just below the surface, the fish are biting the nymphs and emergers. Within a short amount of time, the fish will change to biting the duns and cripples. If the fish are in a feeding frenzy, they may be biting all stages. The spinners are for when the flies are coming back to the water in a few days to lay their eggs.

Green drake hatches will move upstream as time passes. So do not be afraid to walk upstream to catch up with it. No one said fishing was easy...

The type of water you are fishing in also makes a difference. If the water is moving slowly, a lightly dressed fly will work. If the water is moving quicker, you will want to add deer hair powder or hackles to help the fly float better and to be more visible. Fishing upstream of the hatch and letting your hook float down is best. This way the fish see the hook first before your line, remember that presentation is everything with fly fishing.


What Flies To Use

I recommend these flies for fishing the green drakes:

Nymph Patterns: Prince Nymph
Emerger Patterns: CDC Green Drake Emerger
Cripple: Green Drake Cripple
Dun Patterns: Parachute Green Drake
Spinner Patterns: Yellow Drake Foam body Spinner

When it comes to the size of the fly, I would go with #8 to #14 and x3 for the tippet. It is always best to grab one or two natural flies and size your fly hook accordingly to it.

There are multiple types of drake hatches out there, depending on where you live or fish.

Dark Green Drakes

These drakes are the second largest species. They are more commonly found in remote streams and at higher altitudes. They are much less common than the normal green drakes. You will need smaller hooks when fly fishing this hatch as the trout will be smaller in these streams versus the lakes and rivers that the green drakes are found in.

Yellow Drakes

Unlike the other hatches, you probably won’t miss the yellow drake hatch as it lasts the longest, spanning up to two months. They tend to hatch once the green and brown drake hatches have ended. Because the yellow drake hatch happens later in the year, the water level will make all the difference when fishing these drakes, as some years the water is too low to be using nymphs. Like the other hatches, the last hour of daylight is usually the best time to be out fly fishing.

Brown Drakes

The brown drakes can be found from the west coast to the east coast. If you are fishing the green drake hatch and you are not having any luck, take a few more natural flies from around you and look to see if the hatch has changed to brown drakes. The brown drakes will hatch after the green drakes. Because they are common in so many different areas, anglers should familiarize themselves with their characteristics. They are remarkably similar to the green drakes though, so if you master the green drake hatch, you should be all set when it comes to the brown drakes. The brown drake emergence lasts around 3-5 days.

Golden Drakes

Remember that weird kid in school? That was me, but my mother said I was not weird, I was unique... Golden drakes are similar, meaning they are unique. For all you scientific readers out there, the golden drakes have several types of species. They do not dig burrows either, instead they will crawl into small areas on the bottom of streams. You may have to fish this hatch into the early morning hours.

You might be wondering why I did not talk about fly selection when it comes to these different types of drakes. The flies you use for the green drake hatch will normally be adequate when fishing these other hatches. Keep in mind that you may have to change the colors and sizes to match the hatch you are fishing.

I don’t know about you, but after writing this I am wanting to get out on the water. My brother always says that you can’t catch a fish if your hook isn't wet!

Keep tuned into our Zinger Fishing blog for more information on fishing tips, great places to fish and most importantly, the tackle to help you get more fish in your net.