Autumn Fly Fishing Has Hit It's Peak!

Autumn Fly Fishing

The month of October has half way disappeared and we are now in the peak of the Autumn fly fishing season in Central Washington.  The colors of fall are legendary in the this river valley as the orange, red, yellow and green's blend together and create a spectacular array to stimulate the visionary senses.  It's almost overwhelming when you turn your head in any direction and the bright, eye candy colors of foliage, bombard your senses from every angle.  It has to be the finest time of the year to be outdoors.

With that now said, October also has to be thee month to fly fish the Yakima River.  As the water temperatures cool, every fish in the river shifts their metabolism into overdrive and feeds without reservation.  Unlike many of us, they are keenly aware that in just a short while, the water temperatures will cool dramatically and the aquatic food source that has been abundant most of the season, will once again be a scarce commodity until spring.

Most insect hatches all begin their momentum on the Yakima River by mid-afternoon and continue on thru the evening hours.  In the month of October, you will find no difference.  At this time, their are two major food sources that the trout are feeding on, so the diagnosis is really quite simple.

Blue Wing Olive Mayflies and October Caddis are the two primary insects and matching the hatch of both of these will be your true test as a fly fishermen for the day.  The caddis by far is the simpler of the two. It is a large insect by design and many popular fly patterns will work to imitate this natural protein source.


There are several popular fly patterns for duplicating both the pupa and the adult caddis. Of course, the Orange Stimulator is always a good go to fly for this hatch of adult caddis, however there are others that will work equally well. 

Trout will focus on two main elements when feeding on adult or pupa caddisflies.  Color and size will be the determining factor, so selecting a fly pattern that is orange in color and projects a silhouette in hook size 8 or 10 will be a wise choice.  Here, are just a few that you should have in your arsenal during the month of October and November for fishing the Yakima.

This is an exciting "Big Bug" hatch to fish and typically each season will these large, orange bodied caddisflies will be around well into the month of November.


This is also little bug time on the river as well.  Here is where the true test of your skills and abilities as a western fly fishermen will be tested.  Matching the hatch of these mayflies and determining just which stage of the insect large trout are feeding on, is the first formidable challenge for the day.

For many, the difficulty can be lie in selecting the correct size of the fly.  Attention is in the detail here. Threading a size 18, 20 or 22 to thin, clear monofliament line can be a challenge in itself.  Trout here will be keyed in on size and color as well, however the size of the fly and how it is presented, will be the most crucial part of the entire procedure.  

For many tying the fly to thin, clear mono line is half the battle. If you have trouble with this, there are several great tools that will aid you in this procedure. Visit the WBFC pro-shop and we will be happy to show you how well they work. Unfortunately, as we age, the eyes of an older fishermen tend to be problematic and many struggle with smaller hooks.  The eyes of hooks seem to get smaller and the distance seems to be miles away.

On bright, sunny days, which is usually the norm here in Central Washington, consider using a flurocarbon "coated" tippet.  With this particular product, the coated fluro refracts less light, because of it's invisible properties, when sitting in the river film.  

And unlike, pure flurocarbon is doesn't sink as quickly which makes it ideal for dry fly fishing.  Our guide staff uses the Arc brand of tippet material and highly recommends on a daily basis to customers visiting the pro-shop.  It is an ideal product for fishing in low, gin clear water, which is what we have are experiencing at this time on the Yakima.

As your fishing day in October progress from the cool, clear morning into the early afternoon, warm sunshine will warm the river and the water temperature will rise just a few degrees.  Once this happens, Blue Wing Olive Mayflies will begin emerging.  Of course, the cooler, cloudy days are always best, especially in the fall, when the river is low and clear.  Fish are spookier in these conditions as big, bright light penetrates the water.  Clean fly casts and drag free presentations are a must to bright fish to your fly.

Trout will begin feeding in the foam lines on these tiny mayflies and sticking steel into large trout that are feeding in the river film, is some of the funnest fly fishing, we do all season.  I personally look forward to the challenge that is presented to us daily.

There will be times when the trout are swimming up and down the foam line feeding recklessly.  Timing is everything here and watching the trout's feeding patterns is crucial for placing the fly into the feeding zone and getting it in front of the feeder.  

Remember, the trout has to see the fly to eat the fly.  If it is placed several feet away, the fish won't see it.  Accuracy and a delicate presentation is everything here.  In these slow, clear currents trout can easily be put down quickly by a fly line slapping the water and dragging flies. 

Other times, the trout will be stationary, holding in one particular current and raising on occasion, allowing the river's current to bring the feed to them.  Both are fun, exciting moments during the day.  

Be prepared to encounter both feeding activities during the month of October.
If you are disciple of the Worley Bugger newsletters or have visited the pro shop for advice on a regular basis, then you should already have a clear understanding on our staff's approach to the river.  

If you have taken a guided fly fishing trip with WBFC, then you have experienced first hand for yourself.  We teach people how to fly fish and the importance of casting and presentation.  

Time is limited, especially this time of the year. To use the boat is a tool and we use it as transport to move from spot to spot and we are constantly scanning the water for pods of feeding fish. 

To those that use their own boat for the day, here is a word of advice. Shortening your drifts for the day, especially this time of year is strategically important.  If you come across a pod of feeding fish and have miles of river to cover, you lose out on some of the most exciting western fly fishing you can ever experience.  

Casting to feeding trout that are triggered on one particular insect, is what fly fishing is all about.  Plan your day accordingly and think about what your plan of attack might entail, if you are drifting the river this time of year.

We are experiencing an exceptional Autumn once again here in Central Washington.  The fishing is unbelievable and the weather has been spectacular.  If you would like to get out and experience a day with our guide staff, please ring the fly shop.  We have a couple of dates to fill in over the next 2 weeks.

Have a great day and make sure to get out and enjoy the month of October in Central Washington.

Steve Worley-Owner-Head Guide
Worley-Bugger Fly Co.

1713 South Canyon Road
Ellensburg, WA  98926

Listen Every Monday Night At 7:00 pm to our live podcast of "Guide Chronicles" On Ellensburg Community Radio at


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