Many people despise nasty, rainy, and windy weather, but that is just the type of day that stillwater anglers yearn for. Wind at your back, a slow sinking line and crystal clear waters are the perfect remedy for slowly retrieving your handcrafted fly. But, how can you ensure that your wet, cold day comes to life with a few trophy trout at the end of your line?
While nothing is ever a guarantee, you will definitely want to look into the blob style flies available that are geared towards blending in with Daphnia yet catching trout’s attention.
We have previously discussed spooning trout for bait as a way to increase your catch rate, and if you have started doing that on your own you may have noticed something. Quite often, the gullets of trout seem to be overflowing with a certain green or orange mush. What you may not know is that this type of mush is actually often water fleas or Daphnia. These fleas seem to be a primary food source for trout in the winter months and it may surprise you to learn that the fat, hard-to-catch trout usually rely on this food source much more than we may know.
Isn’t the key to catching trout to tempt them with the food you know they love and rely on? Then it is definitely a good idea to learn how to work with Daphnia to try and bring the elusive trout down from the mountain ranges.
Before we can understand how to use Daphnia, we need to understand what exactly they are and their natural existence. They are in incredibly small and are part of the zooplankton that exist in streams, ponds, and lakes. While they are too small to recreate perfectly with individual flies, you can mimic a group of Daphnia to lure in trout. Trout feed on them by swimming around with their mouths open and simply gulping groups of them at a time.
While there is infinite evidence of the success of Daphnia, there are very few anglers that understand their importance. In fact, there are many times that anglers catch trout only because they have tricked a fish into hitting their nymph or leech by accident while gulping down Daphnia.
UK anglers are known throughout the world for their knowledge of lake fishing and it seems that people are starting to catch onto the world of Daphnia and experts are working towards creating patterns and techniques for Daphnia feeders. Even winter anglers are starting to use brightly colored jigs through ice because they know trout rely on Daphnia in the winter. The best news is that even trout as large as 14 pounds have been reeled in thanks to Daphnia Cluster flies, which proves that even monster trout love little bait sometimes.
Putting Together a Daphnia Cluster Fly Pattern
An added bonus to Daphnia fly patterns is that size is not a crucial aspect at all. There are a wide ranging number of 2-tone, 3-tone blob patterns and pretty much everything else in between. You are ultimately mimicking a cluster of species that can range in size quite drastically. One day you may catch trout with a #16 hook full of a colored blob that looks like a group of Daphnis and the other you may find success with a #2 hook in a big trout lake.
You also have quite a few options when it comes to colour as Daphnia are quite varied in their appearance. However, through trial and error there are many anglers who swear by pond olive or lake olive as well as variations of brown of mohair yarn as the body of your fly. If the water is dark or mucky then you can also turn to a few tones of colours such as bright pink, orange, and yellow.
If you are less interested in store bought flies then you can also create your own Daphnia variation pretty easily. You can use a variation of colors as the body of your fly and attach them in a cluster pattern, or a blob. On top of that yarn you can try to add a few strands of pearlescent flash to the tail or even some shiny chenille to the underbody. All you need to do is connect the yarn over the underbody and leave some of the excitement showing through.
Next up, you will want to add T-shirt paint after you pick out all of the mohair fibers. Hold the fibers with one hand and slowly add the paint until you have small drops all over the leech. Your best bet is to use a bright fluorescent paint such as light green or orange. For an added touch, some anglers wrap a bight of bright chenille around glass beads to create a head that will be easy for trout to spot in mucky or algae filled water.
Of course, if you are not so much into tying your own Daphnia type fly then you can opt for store bought blob fly alternatives or even options such as bright streamers, Zonkers, Mini-Leeches, lake midge larvae patterns, damselfly nymphs or colorful scuds.
Presenting your Daphnia Fly
As you can see, there are many variations when it comes to re-creating daphnia or attracting trout that feed on these creatures all through the year. The real focus and key to success comes in terms of presentation.
If you are wading near the downwind part of a lake then it is possible to fish Daphnia from the shore, but for the most part your best bet is to fish from an anchored boat in order to find the right depths.
Start out by fishing transition areas where the bottom drops off into deeper water or where a weed bed ends and leads to a crate or hole near the bottom of the lake. If your fish finder shows a deposit of trout that are hanging out over top of deep water then it is very likely that you have come across some Daphnia-loving trout. Use your methods to find the depth and you are set for a good day on the water.
Daphnia enjoy hanging out in clear water that is full of nutrients but they will not head deeper than the light penetrates into the water on most days. They can be found as deep as 60 feet but are usually no deeper than 30.
Patience is a very important aspect when trying to present Daphnia flies. Trout know that Daphnia only sink very slowly so you want to fish it while it is sinking as opposed to on the retrieval. You can retrieve a bit if you need to keep the line right, but always keep it slow in order to ensure you don’t disrupt the downward sink.
In rivers that lay below lakes you can fish a small Daphnia Cluster in the same fashion that you would present a nymph. Use a little bit of weight to get it down and use the dead-drift technique to really get the trout tempted.
While you should always try to experiment and observe when fishing for trout, it is even more important to do so when using Daphnia techniques. Everything you read may not be a total recipe for success, and there are certain tips and tricks you will learn to use on your own. Just remember that on days where the trout seem to be extra elusive in stillwater try to experiment with flies that mimic Daphnia and it just may change your luck for the better.