A Sniff of Sulphur

Musky Guide Jake Grove gets some yellow on sulphur dries


IT’S late, four weeks late probably, but finally the weather & water gods have aligned and we are seeing some choice sulphur mayfly hatches popping off on the White River late morning.

We have been spotting sulphurs in numbers from the bottom of State Park down pretty close to Cotter. Every piece of shoal water has some bugs coming off. Yesterday we had 2 of the best hours of mayfly action I’ve seen on the river in years, just enough bugs to make the fish crazy but not so many that your imitation is swamped among the naturals. It was good and anytime you can pick up 20” browns on the surface makes it a whole lot of fun.

Water supply is the key, the minimum flow in the am is good, though personally double that allows the bigger fish to feed with a little more confidence.

Sulphurs have to be one of my all time favourite trout bugs, and apparently trout find them delicious as well. First off they are gorgeous, particularly our bright local version though you will find a myriad of color variation, they fish well at gentleman’s hours, and heck the flies are fun to tie and better to stare at than a piece of foam.

Mayfly nymphs have been strong, run a midge pupa behind them, and you will get to watch the shift from midge feeding to mayflies as the morning warms. We had a couple of guys swinging Tailwater soft hackles in yellow through the riffles doing very well Sunday.

But I confess I’m all about the dries, I dig tying them and love fishing them even more. Watching the little fish crunching the flies is fun but the slow rolls of the quality browns is even better.

Click through to check out our fly box for the sulphur hatch: there’s a few new bugs you may not have seen, and they are working.







PARACHUTE: A pattern that you have to carry in the sulphur and pmd flavors. Low riding, easy to see. A standard.And if you want to learn the best way to tie these click here.





LAWSON’S NO-HACKLE: A cruel fly to tie, but a killer on the stream. This fly you save for those truly tough fish in the flat water. But when you have the biggest fish of the day lined up sipping slowly this is the fly to send his way.



SILVERMANN’S STACKER CRIPPLE: This one looks way better in the hand than the Montana Fly Company promo image. I’ve always dug Bob Quigley’s Hackle Stacker pattern, and fished plenty of cripples for western hatches. Putting the two together is a no brainer.

We also have a more standard Hackle Stacker in stock, you might wonder about the color (Pale Orange) but its getting eaten.



HALF & HALF CDC EMERGER: This is a trick little pattern to imitate the emerging bugs as they split open the nymphal shuck with a pheasant tail rear and a sulphur thorax.



COMPARADUN:  This fly is probably the go-to pattern for the majority of Sulphur fly fishers. The flared hair wing dates back to Fran Betters Haystack and Usual patterns, tied for boisterous streams. But the Comparadun, developed by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi, is much more of a finesse pattern. Grab it in PMD Yellow and the Sulphur. The Sparkle Dun offers a shuck instead of a split tail. SPARKLE DUN: How could you make the Comparadun better, give it a trailing shuck instead of the split tail. Craig Matthews’s update really does work well. We have PMD and Sulphur colors.




MERCER’S MICRO MAYFLY: Simply a killer pattern from the West Coast tying machine Mike Mercer. A super thin abdomen and chesty thorax. We dig all the colors but I’ve been having most success on the black so far.







HUMPBACK SULPHUR: One of our favorite nymphs for Sulphur time. Fish it early in the day, before the duns start popping. It has a great profile and an oversize wingcase we really like.




FLASHBACK PHEASANT TAIL: An oldie but a goodie. Bead head and non bead head versions and some days the standard old PT is as good as any 14-16-18 for the hatch. Just a solid producer.


MIGHTY MAY, PMD: Chad’s been doing well with this pattern . A little more subtle than the Humpback Sulphur and the addition of a black bead.