Editor's note: Tom Adams is general manager of Backwoods in Oklahoma City and a fly fishing instructor. He will be teaching a fly fishing school on the Lower Illinois River next month with former wildlife commissioner Mark Patton. For more information, call 340-1992.
So much water. So little time.
Fly anglers have many opportunities to fish for trout in Oklahoma. Planning a trip to the Rocky Mountains each summer to scratch your fly fishing itch can be time consuming and costly for most anglers.
Oklahoma has two year-round trout streams, the Lower Mountain Fork and Lower Illinois rivers, and winter trout fisheries at Blue River, Lake Watonga, Lake Carl Etling, Lake Pawhuska, Robbers Cave and the new addition at Medicine Park.
The more I get to fly fish the more I want to fly fish. It's an addiction that has taken hold of me has its steely grip securely embedded. On my explorations of Oklahoma trout waters, I have learned that there are some flies that I don't want to leave the house without. These flies will work in Oklahoma as well as any trout waters in the United States.
Wooly Bugger: Arguably the best searching pattern ever developed for fly fishing. The size and color can vary. I have black, olive, brown and white in sizes 8-12 loaded in the box. This pattern imitates the leech, small baitfish and the damsel fly very well.
Gold Bead Pheasant Tail Nymph: This fly imitates the mayfly nymph which is in all bodies of fresh water that are cold or warm. I have seen them in Oklahoma City on my windshield. A large version of the mayfly is the Hexagenia. It comes off Lake Hefner in large swarms every summer. Go with hook sizes 12-18.
Parachute Adams: The adult version of the mayfly. It will be hatching at different times of the year. The size will depend on species of mayfly so take hook sizes in 12-20.
Soft Hackle Fly: A traditional soft hackle fly in olive, orange or peacock will cover the water just under the surface on a river or lake. This pattern has been around for more than a century and continues to produce fish in situations that your nymph and dry fly patterns won't. Go with hook sizes 14-20.
San Juan Worm: Most of the trout fishing opportunities in Oklahoma are in the tail waters below the large dam of a lake. A San Juan worm is an aquatic worm found in most trout waters. The pattern came from the San Juan River in New Mexico and has produced many fish in our tail waters as well. When the flows are higher than normal, it is a good time to think about a fly that is bigger and brighter for the fish to find and eat.
Midges: These little guys are not large in size but are large in number. They are valuable to the trout year-round and trout are very familiar seeing them and taking them. The average fly fisherman is hesitant fishing these patterns because they are size 16-24 and smaller. Colors include black, red and olive to cover several species.