Fly fishing on the Bow River in Canada is a thrilling experience for anglers of all levels. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to know which insects are hatching at different times of the year, and what fly patterns to use to imitate them. In this guide, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive Bow River hatch chart, based on our own experience and research, to help you catch more fish and have more fun on the water.

Introduction: Why Hatch Charts Matter

Hatch charts are like cheat sheets for fly fishing. They tell you what the fish are eating, and how to present your flies to match the natural bugs. Without a hatch chart, you may waste precious fishing time trying different flies and techniques, and still come up empty-handed. With a hatch chart, you can make informed decisions about what to tie on, and increase your chances of hooking up.

Bow River Hatch Chart: When and What to Expect

The Bow River is a large and complex river system that flows through varied terrain and microhabitats. As a result, the insect hatches can vary depending on the location and season. However, there are some general patterns that you can follow to plan your trips and choose your flies.

Spring Hatches

The Bow River is famous for its early season Skwala stonefly hatch, which usually starts in late March or early April and lasts for a few weeks. This is a great time to target hungry brown and rainbow trout with Skwala dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. Other important spring hatches include:

HatchTime FrameSizeFly Types
Blue-winged OlivesMarch to April18-20Emergers, Dries
MidgesYear-round20-24Chironomids, Emergers
March BrownsApril to May10-12Nymphs, Dries, Emergers
Skwala StonefliesMarch to April8-12Nymphs, Dries
BaetisApril to May18-20Emergers, Dries
HendricksonsApril to May12-14Nymphs, Dries, Emergers
Gray DrakesApril to May12-14Nymphs, Dries, Emergers
CaddisApril to May12-16Pupae, Emergers, Dries

Summer Hatches

Summer is the peak season for fishing on the Bow River, with a wide variety of hatches and techniques to try. Here are some of the most common and effective ones:

HatchTime FrameSizeFly Types
Pale Morning DunsJune to July14-18Nymphs, Dries, Emergers
Golden StonefliesJune to August8-12Nymphs, Dries
Green DrakesJune to July10-12Nymphs, Dries, Emergers
TerrestrialsJuly to SeptemberVariousAnts, Beetles, Hoppers
CaddisJuly to September14-18Pupae, Emergers, Dries
TricosAugust to September20-24Emergers, Dries
HoppersAugust to SeptemberVariousHopper patterns
Spruce MothsAugust to September14-16Nymphs, Dries

Fall Hatches

Fall is a beautiful time to fish on the Bow River, with fewer crowds and changing colors. The hatches may be less intense than in summer, but the fish are still hungry and willing to eat. Here are some of the best fall hatches:

HatchTime FrameSizeFly Types
Blue-winged OlivesSeptember to October18-20Emergers, Dries
Mahogany DunsSeptember to October14-18Nymphs, Dries, Emergers
TricosAugust to September20-24Emergers, Dries
October CaddisSeptember to October8-10Nymphs, Dries
MidgesYear-round20-24Chironomids, Emergers

Bow River Fly Patterns: What to Use

Knowing the hatch schedule is only half the battle. You also need to have the right fly patterns in your box, and know how to fish them effectively. Here are some suggestions based on our own experience and local guides:

  • Skwala stoneflies: Kaufmann’s Stimulator, Chubby Chernobyl, Prince Nymph, San Juan Worm
  • BWOs: Parachute Adams, RS2, Barr’s Emerger, Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Golden stoneflies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Sofa Pillow, Girdle Bug, Copper John
  • Green and gray drakes: Henryville Special, Hare’s Ear Nymph, Elk Hair Caddis
  • PMDs: Parachute PMD, Sparkle Dun, Mercury Baetis, Split Case PMD
  • Terrestrials: Foam Beetle, Flying Ant, Dave’s Hopper, Royal Wulff
  • Hoppers: Morrish Hopper, Fat Albert, Hippie Stomper, Klinkhammer
  • Tricos: Trico Spinner, Double Trico, Griffith’s Gnat
  • Mahogany duns: Parachute Mahogany, Tungsten Bead Hare’s Ear, Foam Wing Emerger
  • October caddis: October Caddis Dry, Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear, Caddis Pupa
  • Midges: Zebra Midge, WD-40, Mercury Black Beauty, Griffith’s Gnat

Conclusion: Go Fly Fishing on the Bow River Today

We hope this Bow River hatch chart and fly pattern guide has been helpful for your next Bow River fly fishing trip.