How to fish a BWO hatch

How to fish a BWO hatch

Warmer weather is creeping up, and that can only mean one thing: hatches and trout! While there are a variety of infamous spring hatches, the blue wing olive hatch is known to be an epic experience. The BWO itself is mid-sized mayfly known to be a quarter inch to three-quarters of an inch in size. The fly's body can often appear in shades of olive or grey, while the wings are a distinct blueish-gray color. Stumbling upon a BWO hatch is the holy grail for both fisherman and trout. Consider the tips below to increase your chances of landing more fish during your next BWO hatch. 

Fly selection

To adapt to any scenario, you must carry flies that mimic the entire lifecycle of a BWO. Be sure to organize and break down your box by stage. Our favorite nymphs include the perdigon, beadhead BWO, and the BH blue-wing olive nymph. As for emerging style fly patterns, we recommend the BWO spent, Bwo emerger, and Barr’s emerger. Finally, for dry flies it's hard to beat the Bwo parachute, Sparkle dun, and klink hammer. As for color and size, we recommend 14-18 in olive, gray, tan, and black. 

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Rig appropriately

If you want your fly to look as natural as possible, you’ll need the correct setup. A typical trout leader is about a rod's length of 9 or 10 feet. When fishing the BWO hatch, a 12- 13 foot leader reduces surface disturbance when casting and prevents fish from spotting the fly line. As for tippet size, air on the side of light. Typically, 5x and 6x will be perfect for the job. If you go any heavier, the fish begin to see through your deception.


While we’ve mentioned flies, it’s crucial to understand how to use them to attract and catch fish properly. The first method to consider is nymphing. Most BWO flies contain a bead-head, which is ideal for indicator nymphing. To effectively indicator nymph the entire column, we recommend a two-fly rig composed of a bead-headed pattern on the bottom and a weightless nymph up top. Your two patterns should sit roughly 1 foot apart from one another. In terms of presentation, simply cast upstream, throw in a mend, and wait for the indicator to go under. To reduce tangles, be sure to limit your false casting. The second method to master is fishing an emerger pattern, an all-time classic fishing style. Fishing an emerger is complex because the fly is tiny, making it difficult to watch and control as it sits in the water. To properly fish this fly, simply stand downstream and make a cast about 5 feet from where the fish are sipping. Next, allow the current to take the fly right into the feeding lane! Because these flies are tiny it's easy to lose track of them during a drift. If you think a fish has inhaled your fly, don’t be afraid to set the hook! The final and most fun method is arguably dry fly fishing, the presentation is pretty straightforward. Toss your fly upstream and allow the current to slide into the feeding lane. As the fly travels back down river be ready to strip in any slack. When the fly gets eaten raise your rod tip and hold on. Ultimately, mastering these techniques takes quite a bit of time, so be patient!

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