It usually happens when I’m mowing the lawn in late spring or early summer. I feel a little tickle on the back of my neck, go to scratch it, and find the first fluorescent green inchworm of the year crawling across my hand. That’s when I know it’s time to start drifting a parachute inchworm fly under low-hanging branches, hoping to trick some tucked-up rainbow into taking a sip. Of course, that’s legitimately matching a hatch. The other side of the story is that whether real worms are dangling or not, neon green flies and jigs that look like them have an uncanny ability to score trout year-round, so much so that many fly guys consider them cheating.
No matter where you stand on this—even if you stand with a spinning rod—here’s how these vibrant green morsels can help you hook more big summer trout.
While inchworm dry flies can be deadly when worms are falling, you’ll want to take the presentation subsurface when they’re not. That’s when you go for the original Green Weenie. The funny thing about this simple chenille wet fly is that despite its being a dead ringer for an inchworm, the Weenie is technically supposed to represent a caddis larva. In my opinion, that’s just a ruse fly purists cling to so they feel better about sinking one. Orvis’s website sums up the truth perfectly: “The closest thing it might imitate is a caddis larva of the green sedge variety, but whatever it imitates, it works. That’s why guides have rows of them in their boxes.”
From stocked brookies to wild browns, the Weenie will get bit as quickly on the coldest winter day as it will on the muggiest August afternoon, and during summer, I like to fish them weightless. In low, clear water, I’ll swing a Weenie through seams and riffles on a 9-foot 5X leader, letting it ride the current just a few inches below the surface. Regardless of hatches, and no matter how wary summer trout happen to be, it’s rare that I don’t find a player or two eager to go green.
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In deeper holes and runs, I’ll switch to a beadhead Weenie and drift it in tandem with a Copper John or Pheasant Tail, placing the Weenie at the bottom of the rig. Quite often, it’s the Weenie that scores the take. And while this bug may not be the first fly I tie on when I hit the stream, it’s the first I’ll go to when a dog-day skunking seems imminent.
Off the Fly
If you’re not into flyfishing, you can still harness the power of the Weenie thanks to modern soft plastics. Several companies produce trout-specific plastic micro baits, but a Trout Magnet (troutmagnet.com) in chartreuse is arguably the finest Weenie-esque lure around, especially considering that it has a lot more natural action than a dead-drifiting fly.
Rig a Trout Magnet on one of the company’s micro shad dart heads, and the current will deflect off the slanted face during a drift, making the bait dance and flash with no rod work. You can drift a Magnet-dart combo under a float, but I prefer to skip the float so the plop doesn’t spook fish in clear summer water. As Trout Magnets weigh so little, it can take practice to keep contact during a drift, but when a good trout thumps one, it’s hard to miss. You can also use a size 12 nymph hook and a few split shot to rig a chartreuse Magnet on a drop-shot and get it wiggling at the bottom of those deep, juicy holes where summer trout find cool sanctuary.
If you’re already of the mindset that drifting a Trout Magnet, Weenie, Mop Fly, or any of the other green goodies on the market is playing a bit dirty, you may as well kick your presentation up to filthy. Whenever I come to the end of a drift with these lures or flies, I always swim them back with a jigging action before casting again. You will never find an inchworm or caddis larva darting its way upcurrent, but when a big trout shoots out and attacks, I doubt you’ll be sorry that your presentation was miles from natural.
Gear Tip: Rear Differential
Whether you’re tying crayfish for smallies or shrimp for redfish, Flymen Fishing Co.’s new Shrimp & Cray Tails will give your fly patterns a kick in the rear. These metal tails are available in three sizes that match the weight of the bead-chain eyes most commonly used in popular shrimp and crayfish imitators. Their posts make them easy to tie in, they provide weight while ramping up the natural look, and they’ll even give bugs a bit more action on the strip.