Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The "Pellet Fly" On The Swift

Maybe you've heard of it or maybe you haven't but one of the oddities that you will find on this stream is a critter called the "pellet fly". In short it's nothing more then a piece of cork shaped like a trout pellet that is lashed to a hook. It accounts for (at times) some outstanding catches. One long time flyfisher of this stream says that it will catch trout between every 5 to 10 casts. He mentions that this fly ONLY works from the hatchery pipe outflow downstream for a few dozen yards. I can't claim any success with it because I can't bring myself to tie it or use it but I've talked to a few that have used it and they praise it's effectivness.
Why was this fly developed? It's simple. Every so often one will see the "pipe" area explode with slashing rising trout. The mayhem lasts for a minute or two and then stops. It may happen again within a few minutes or it may not. The "logic" is that they are feeding trout in the hatchery and the excess pellets make their way through the outflow. This logic doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Yes, trout will "remember" pellets as food and will strike regardless of any trout feeding activity in the hatchery. Hence the success of the pellet fly but I believe, due to my past experience of working for a commercial trout hatchery, that this explosive feeding activity is due to the regular cleaning maintainence that is done at the hatchery.
Every trout hatchery has this in common: a series of troughs which are interconnected. All of the outflow is sent to "settling ponds" which capture the waste before it is sent to the (Swift) river. Most of the pellets are fed to fish and are consumed by fish. The remainder make their way to the settling ponds where they may or may not dissolve. To have a flush of pellets make their way through the pond and into the river ( a long journey in this case) to cause rapid feeding of river trout is a stretch. The rapid feeding of trout below the pipe is most likely caused by the cleaning of troughs and screens just before the final outflow from the hatchery. I've witnessed this before at the hatchery that I worked at. The screens and the sides of the troughs are loaded with a bazillion tiny organisms that trout will feed upon. They are flushed out in mass and this is what causes dozens of trout to start their short lived feeding frenzy. Yes, there will be some pellets in the mix and like I said trout have a good memory and will hit them but the bulk of the feeding is due to something else, not necessarily pellets.
Use the pellet fly if you must. Maybe someday I might too but don't bet on it.
The above photo shows the effective range of this "fly". Good luck!!


Gerry said...

A couple years ago I was fishing the Y-pool with a large tan egg pattern. No action, not even a look. Then I lifted it up to the surface to see if the tippet was tangled. As I held it there for a couple seconds, a trout swam up from the pool and gently gulped it in. I caught another one a couple minutes later. It didn't dawn on me then, but a couple months later I was fishing below the hatchery pipe and saw the "feeding blitz" that you described. They would not eat the softhackle I was using, but the guy just up from me must have caught 4 or 5 fish within 5 minutes. I asked what he was using and he said, "Pellet fly." I said, "Huh?" and he showed me the piece of cork on his hook. That's when the lighbulb lit up and I knew why they ate the tan egg. I keep a couple buried very deep in my flybox. They are in a little glass box labeled, "Break in case of emergency." I rarely break them out,but not liking to be skunked, I confess that I have furtively tied one on as the sun slowly sinks in the west, to avoid driving home with that old polecat smell wafting through my car. I admit that I hate myself for just a second or two afterward. Each time I swear never to stoop that low again. But I must confess, that whenever I pack the car for the trip to the Swift I peak way down deep in the flybox to make certain my "Emergency Supplies" are there. I always hope I don't have to use them and usually I don't. But just in case . . .

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Good story. I have an emergency box too but it's full of SJW's!!! Any port in a storm I guess.


Anonymous said...

I fish the Swift quite a bit and I can't get myself to fish a Pellet fly. My friend made some and had great success. A small caddis is a good cheater pellet fly, and it gives you the illusion of fishing a realy fly!

Erik Grubb said...

I know many people are against non realistic flies. However i fly fish for a variety of species, including one of my favorites..Carp.

There are a couple of places that people toss bread for the ducks, or dog food to bring the shiners up during commercial harvesting. The carp find these food bits and go nuts for them.

Tying a spun deer hair fly to mimic the bread or dog food in these locations can be devastatingly effective.

We always talk about matching the hatch, so would that not also make sense if the hatch happens to be man made? Personally I don't think it lessens the experience or value of the tactic as it still takes an understanding of the fish you are chasing and the waters you chase them on to be effective.

Jus my two cents for what it is worth on an old blog. Love it btw, great resource for this waterway and fly fishing in general.