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Fly Selection on Ozark Streams

Fly Selection on Ozark Streams

Fishing in the Ozarks is a unique midwest experience. Because of the geology of the region, streams are often spring fed, clear, and cool bordering on cold. Typically running around 58 degrees F when the springs enter streams of the region, these clear waters are cold enough for trout and before long, warm to become havens for excellent smallmouth bass fishing.

There are all kinds of fishing that occur on these Ozark streams. Everything from gigging rough fish, to bow fishing, to spin fishing are commonly practiced. One method that should not be overlooked is fly fishing.

Because many of these streams, especially in the trout sections, are blue ribbon streams, they lend themselves nicely to fly fishing. Blue ribbon stretches do not allow bait or many forms of artificials such as plastic or rubber worms. Even where the streams are open to more methods, fly fishing is often the best method in terms of productivity, and is often the most satisfying.

The fly offerings used can be broken into two categories by whether they are below surface (streamer/nymph) or on the surface (dry flies). This list is not exhaustive, but is a nice starting point.

Dry Flies:

  • Adams
  • Parachute Adams
  • Griffiths Gnat
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Dave’s Hopper
  • Crackleback (regional fly)
  • Royal Wulff

Streamer/Nymph Flies

  • Hare’s Ear Nymph
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Glow Bug (Often referred to as egg pattern or glow ball…use peach, orange, and/or rainbow colors)
  • Woolly Buggers (Olive and black colors generally in size #8 or #10 and in bead head)
  • San Juan Worms (red, tan, and/or brown colorations)
  • Stone Fly Nymphs (Golden and/or Black Colorations)
  • Copper Johns Nymphs

As previously mentioned, this list is by no means exhaustive. There are other flies that on occasion you will want. Also, these flies will be needed in a variety of sizes. Our thought is that if you are limited on how many you can bring, err on the side of smaller sizes.

One area that is a bit deficient in this list is for crawdad imitating flies. If you will be focusing on streams with lots of crayfish and particularly if you are emphasizing smallmouth bass, consider the Don’s Crawdad Fly. This is an excellent fly and will catch trout as well as bass.

As you get geared up for fishing the Ozark streams, consider also going small with your fly fishing combo. We like using 5/6 weight rods and fairly light tippet and leader. These streams are very clear usually, and going with too heavy line can be a mistake. Fluorocarbon leader can be very helpful as well.