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The Giant Mayfly Hex Hatch

by Ray Scmidt
06/20/08 Schmidt Outfitters 2008

Call it what you want, the Caddis Hatch, the Giant Michigan Mayfly, but in all actuality it is the Hexagenia Limbata hatch. About the second week of June at the earliest and July 15th at the latest, the anglers of the night appear for this storied hatch. These bugs emerge late evenings on streams that have silty, mucky areas that they call home for most of their life. From these muck beds (as we call them) the nymphs emerge and begin their adult life as winged insects. During this emergence, and later during the spinner fall, is when fish feed heavily on this giant bug.

Anglers await this time of year because big brown trout will come out and feed on these insects on the surface. We head to the river just before dark and stare into the summer night sky looking for signs of the flight of the hex flies. About 10:30 PM the bugs begin their fall from the sky to deposit their fertilized eggs back to the river. This is when Mr. Big Brown Trout begins to feed.

Here’s my recommendation: Search out a section of river in daylight that has the right hex habitat, silty muck beds. Locate a slow moving deep pool below the muck beds (in daylight) close to good brown trout habitat (a log jam). Get familiar with the river in the general vicinity so after dark you at least feel comfortable where you are and what the river is like.

As far as gear goes, I like a six-weight rod best, although some folks use a seven. Choose a fly line that is at least a ½ line size heavy to match your rod, such as Scientific Anglers GPX or RIO Gold. The RIO Lumalux, a glow-in-the-dark fly line, is popular and it’s a ½ line size heavy also. Why the heavy line size? At night when we are casting short casts (10,15 or 20 feet) an oversized line will help load the rod better, and in turn make your casting life easier.

Leaders should be short and strong. Six to 8 feet in length, with a heavy butt section like Maxima. To make your own night leader for this fishing, use 4 feet of Maxima Ultragreen 30lb, 18 inches of Maxima Ultragreen 20 lb, and an 18-inch final tippet of Maxima Ultragreen 10 lb. I also like the RIO Steelhead tapered leader in 10 lb. This is a pre-looped factory-made leader.

Besides flies, which we have linked to in this newsletter, you’ll need a good headlight, effective insect repellant, fly floatant, a net, and maybe a big black cigar to help fend off the mosquitoes. Remember to tell someone where you are going for safety reasons, and then have fun!