Green Drake – 12/18/2011

One of the highlights of each fishing season is encountering a western green drake hatch. I can almost guarantee a green drake emergence if I visit the Frying Pan River between July and October. Hitting green drakes on other Colorado streams is more haphazard, but I’ve encountered them on St. Vrain Creek, the Roaring River, Clear Creek, the Fraser River, the Conejos River, and the Eagle River. If I only spot a few of these large mayflies by western standards, I immediately tie a green drake imitation to my line. Trout seem to have a long memory for green drakes, and because of their large size they are a treat to use as a prospecting fly.

For the most part fish are not extremely selective to green drake flies; however, over time I have tied numerous varieties. My first attempts were intended to mimic some green drake cripples that I purchased in Basalt on an early trip. They were called green drake cripples and were tied with a marabou tail and abdomen, then a deer hair collar and then hackle. They were difficult to tie and I gradually used them up and moved on to comparadun style green drakes. I made these with many shades of olive dubbing and had varying results.

This summer I traveled to the Conejos River in southcentral Colorado in late July and based upon the recommendation of the gentleman at the Conejos River Angler, I purchased a couple green drake flies. These flies produced quite well on my second day on the river in spite of a relatively sparse emergence. Subsequently the same flies produced fish on Clear Creek, but I lost all but one. Before I lost the remaining fly, I decided to use it as a model and produce some new ones for a September trip to the Frying Pan River.

Purchased Green Drake Took Ten Fish

I used the purchased fly to determine that the proper hook size was 12 3XL. I also was able to find some dubbing labeled light olive that matched the abdomen quite well, and found some maroon sewing thread in Jane’s sewing box that was perfect for the ribbing. Dark coastal deer hair was the final ingredient for the wing. The fly I purchased was much bushier than my version, but I wasn’t sure how to attach the extra materials, so I stayed with the sparse comparadun pattern.

HookSize 12 3XL Dry Fly
WingDark Coastal Deer Hair
TailDark Tips of Moose Mane
RibMaroon Sewing Thread
AbdomenMedium Olive Dubbing
ThoraxMedium Olive Dubbing


Top View of Green Drake

I stream tested these newly tied flies in September on the Frying Pan River and they performed like a charm. I landed four trout in a fifteen minute time period at the tail end of the green drake hatch, and Dan landed one as well. I was convinced that this was the model I would stick to for future years of green drake fly tying.

Nice Side View of Green Drake Comparadun

I sat down at my vice over the weekend and whipped out ten size 12 3XL green drakes. I’m quite anxious to test them again during the summer of 2012.

Nine Green Drakes and Materials Used

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