Hardy Fin & Fly

Early Season Dry Fly by Howard Croston

The start of the new Trout season on our Northern rivers brings a welcome change from the heavy nymph fishing styles used to pursue Grayling in the frigid waters of deep winter and as the focus switches to targeting wild Brown Trout on the surface it's time to break the dry fly gear out once again.

Spring on many rivers is a time of year when the presence of fly life on the surface can make all the difference between success and failure. Many of my Northern rivers are very ‘hatch driven' and whilst you can always pick up an odd fish on nymph's and spiders pre hatch sport is guaranteed to be far more consistent with some insect activity to get the fish looking up.

The predominant species early season for my rivers are large dark olives and March Browns; both sizeable insects that bring the fish up to the surface looking for a meal hatches are usually concentrated around 12-2.30 pm although this can be longer on a good day of mild overcast conditions.

Here are three of my top early season patterns for rising fish:

Large Dark CDC olive
Olive CDC quill emerger
March Brown Retirer

Typically at the start of a hatch I will fish with an emerger style fly. This is often slightly more appealing to the fish as it represents an easier target than a fully hatched fly. Fully hatched duns can escape at a moment's notice or skitter away on a gust of wind whereas the emerger is trapped and an easy meal. If that gets ignored or the fish are in full on feed mode I will switch to the more visible / higher floating dun pattern and obviously use the March Brown imitation when that particular hatch is in full swing.

Early season dry fly can be very hit and miss but as this cracking fish from late March 2015 shows it can be well worth it - a 3.1lb wild Brown for David Parker on a CDC olive dun - the one and only fish of the day.


Howard Croston is the Hardy Brand Manager and Team England fly fisher. Find out more about Howard.