Mystery hatches make us better fly fishermen |

Mystery hatches make us better fly fishermen

an aphid
Simon Leather |

I’ve always enjoyed the mental parts of fly fishing as much as the physical parts. Watching insect hatches unfold around me in a trout river has fascinated me since I was a child. One of the most mysterious hatches I’ve ever fished occurs on the middle sections of the Fryingpan River during August and September. It’s infamously known as the toughest hatch and routinely confuses and frustrates even the best anglers; it is the serratella.

This unique mayfly has evolved over the years to become an asexual, flightless insect that carries an egg sack between its wings and is so tiny that about twenty of them could easily fit on the face of a dime. People come from across the country to fish in frustration trying to figure out and dial in this hatch. To my knowledge, no one ever has truly figured this hatch out. That’s kind of the beauty of it, in that we as fly fishers are always learning, just as the rivers are constantly evolving, shifting and moving.

Recently there have been reports of a mysterious “super hatch” that takes in the evening hours along the Fryingpan. Generally during the evening hours, rusty spinner falls, caddis and green drake hatches and occasional midge hatches take place. None of these insects were the culprit of this new mystery hatch, though.

In an effort to fulfill my own curiosity I fished the river on several occasions recently. It was an amazing learning experience. I saw firsthand how trout would key in on such a specific microscopic insect. I waded out into the river above where I saw the fish rising and collected with a swoop of my ball cap some of the tiny insects that were swarming in a cloud. Tiny winged aphids, a terrestrial insect, were the culprit of the rhythmically feeding trout and the frustrated anglers. I went home the next day, tied a bunch of size 30 aphid fly imitations at the vise and went back to the river the following day. The rest, as they say, is history as many trout found my flies. Fly fishing is a constant learning process where we as anglers never truly know what the rivers, the fish and the insects have in store for us, always keeping us on our toes.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or

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