THE EGG SALAD
The idea for my Egg Salad pattern materialized after I fi shed Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie tributaries for lake-run steelhead. Since then, I’ve found it to be a killer pattern in a number of color combinations and used it to catch trout in the Mountain West and lake-run kokanee salmon. With a soft, glowing yolk and a touch of flash, it’s fooled my biggest Eastern steelhead and Western rainbow to date. It’s an easy, quick tie when you’re trying to fill some slots in your fly box with failsafe patterns.
What makes it stand out from other egg patterns is the thread color. For whatever reason chartreuse, as opposed to orange or red which I think are more realistic colors associated with eggs, gives the fly a distinctive hue. When the egg is wet, the thread compliments the rest of the components. The egg itself is made up of two colors of commonly used egg yarn, usually an orange “yolk” of McFly Foam surrounded by champagne-colored Glow Bug Yarn. The hint of fl ash comes from a parachute-style wrap of Krystal Flash Chenille around the egg and a touch of UV Pearl Ice Dub behind the hook eye.
For steelhead I like to use a size 14 TMC 2488H, and a size 18 or 20 for trout. I carry a wide range of sizes for various water conditions. I like flies as big as size 8 for high and muddy water and size 24 for crystal clear and shallow water. In that same respect, steelhead and trout eggs vary in diameter so it pays to have some variation in your boxes too, which opens the door to experimenting with different colors. Trout are familiar with eggs that have an orange hue, but try other colors to get a fish’s attention. For example, I like to mix up different yolk colors inside the Champagne Glo Bug Yarn. I tie most eggs with realistic colors, but feel free to show the fish something new and exciting like a chartreuse and hot-pink combination.
HOOK: TMC 2488H, sizes 8 to 24.
THREAD: Chartreuse Uni-Thread, 8/0.
HACKLE: Pearl Krystal Flash Chenille.
EGG: Orange McFly Foam yolk inside Champagne Glo Bug Yarn.
HEAD: Hareline UV Pearl Ice Dub.
Tying the Egg Salad
WORM AND EGG BREAKFAST
Using these patterns in tandem is perfect for high, off-color water but be prepared to add weight to your line when needed. With fast currents you’ll usually need to get your flies down to the trout’s level quicker. Fish will either stick close to the bottom where rocks and boulders break up the current, or congregate near the banks where the water is calmer. Remember, real eggs drift closer to the bottom since they’re more dense than the surrounding water so make sure the pattern bounces along the rocks.
Rig the lighter egg as the lead fly and the chunky Wonder Worm as a dropper. The worm will sink faster than the Egg Salad and eventually also pull it down. If needed, add split shot above the tippet knot in front of the egg. This will keep the shot from slipping down to the egg. You can vary the length between the flies, but it’s best to keep them about twelve inches apart.
If you’re fishing these patterns in high-water conditions, remember a long leader can get manipulated in the current, creating slack and making it tough to detect strikes. Keep in touch with the flies by raising the rod tip until you feel the weight of the rig, then lower it and continue to finish the drift.
When trying to find trout, focus on the edges of a fast current. If the water is high enough the current will be too swift for the trout to feed and hide in their normal spots. They’ll move to the edges where they don’t have to spend as much energy holding their place. Don’t be surprised to find fish just feet from the bank. After you’ve covered the water close to the bank, add some more weight and look for pockets above and below boulders.
Most fishermen know about slack water created behind a mid-stream obstruction, but there is also a pocket in front of obstacles too. Pay close attention to where your flies are during the drift and begin lifting them when they approach an obstruction to avoid hanging up, but be ready for a strike. Next time you are fishing and either rain or run-off brings the water level up, make sure you have some room in your fly box for eggs and worms. Trout know these food sources and even when it seems eggs and worms aren’t on the menu, trout won’t hesitate to take them. Dial in the correct amount of weight, keep in contact with the flies through the drift and get ready to set the hook.
Baron Zahuranec lives in northeast Washington. When he’s not chasing trout, salmon or steelhead, he’s tying for his custom fly company, The Undercut Bank.