Yakima River Summer Stonefly Hatch - UPDATED

June 26, 2016

We are entering the prime season for dry fly fishing on the Yakima River. Our spring flows and hatches can be tumultuous at times, but once we enter the heat of summer our primary stonefly hatch begins and this helps keep the dry fly fishing fairly steady throughout most of the summer. Sure there will be days when its tough, or even impossible to catch fish on dry flies but at other times the Yakima River Canyon will stack up against any river in the country. Yep, I said it.  The hatch that fuels this mayhem is called the Yakima River Summer Stonefly.  Its a big leggy bug that hatches at night. This makes our evening and morning dry fly fishing, and sometimes mid day, absolutely amazing.

The female summer stoneflies have full wings, and can be very large. The photo above is a typical specimen and is often a #6.

 The male Summer Stonefly is commonly known as a "short wing Stonefly" and it does not have a fully developed set of wings.  They are often smaller and a #10 is perfect for fly size.

The Gypsy King in various sizes and colors does the best job out of all of our dry flies for "matching the hatch" on the Summer Stonefly.  I like a mix of brown and black, and as seen here the Black tends to attract the Cutthroat which have a sweet tooth for dry flies.  

Tips for the Summer Stonefly Hatch

  1. Book a Twilight Highlight Guided Trip - Let our team show you how good this river can be.  Its a great itinerary that takes advantage of optimal fishing and makes your fishing time with us as productive as possible.  
  2. If you can't fish two days, book a guided trip and fish either at 6 am or an afternoon float and fish till dark. We have both Half Day and Full Day trips and usually have plenty of space on the calendar.  Our guides are fun, friendly, and work very hard.  
  3. Cast placement can be critical.  Critique your casts and fly placement.  Because of the often swift river flows here on the Yakima River, the trout will live under the cutbanks. Its critical to work the structure AND achieve a delicate drag free drift. Don't think because its a big fly you can get away with slamming it down.
  4. Stick to dry flies. If you want dry fly fishing. Fish only dry flies and quit yer cryin'.  It won't always be good but when it is you had better be good.  All that casting when the fishing was slow will pay off once the fishing is good.
  5. Don't get too fixated on the big bugs.  I have seen many times in July and August when the fish simply get tired of the big leggy stuff and a Caddis trailer does wonders.  Don't ignore the small stuff completely.
  6. Fish early in the morning.  If you can be out there at 6 am, sometimes that is the best fishing of the day.
  7. If you can fish till dark, it is often very good.  At this time of day refer to Tip #5, because there will be great Caddis hatches.
  8. Starting in late July, try fishing Hoppers mid day and using true Summer Stonefly Patterns in the evening and morning.
  9. Use a short piece of 4X or 5X tippet if the fish refuse. I have found that using a 12" piece of lighter tippet is very helpful if the strikes are short.  I prefer 3X for big bugs, and if you use too much 5X the big flies will spin it up.

I sure hope this little update helps. I have been home from my fishing trip to Mexico for a total of 5 hours and am now heading to go guide the Yakima.  Fish fish fish.  All I do is fish haha!  I'll post some more updates in the next day or two but hopefully this will get you on the right track.
  1. Joe Thank you for all the post and tips. While I haven't had the opportunity to fish with Reds yet I will sooner or later. Your post have taught me a lot. Thanks again hope to see you soon.
  2. After Casting into a tree or the grass, don't give up, finish your drift. some of my best fish have come after dragging my fly free from the grass or tree's. It is also a good way to look like a proficient caster to your boat mates. "I meant to do that" It's the most natural presentation."
  3. Nice on Lem! :)