River Fishing in May

With spring now in full swing, it’s time to hit your favourite waters. However, as even the most experienced fishermen find, the rules by which you will select your fly will change due to the environmental effects of this new season. Here, we bring you this month’s recommended flies, along with advice on how to choose the best fly for the job.

River Trout

You will generally find a lot more fly life around in spring, so should always be ready to change to the dry fly just in case. However, when no fish are rising, try upstream nymphing or fishing spiders down and across. When it comes to choosing trout flies, size matters. The relative importance of your fly’s characteristics when choosing should be: size, shape, colour, and action (for stripped flies). In saltwater, however, note that action will often be more important than the exact size and shape. Dry flies to try include: black gnat; klinkhammers (in black and olive); Griffiths gnats; Adams and elk hair caddis. For nymphs, you could try pheasant tails (in gold or tungsten beads); hares ear (also in gold and Tungsten bead); copper Johns. When using spiders, opt for partridge and orange, snipe and purple, or olive, red and black spiders.

New Zealand Style or Fishing The Duo

Flies fished on a Dropper are a trout angler’s secret weapon. A simple dropper can be made by tying a small nymph onto 6-18 inches of tippet material, tied to the bend of a dry fly, Klinkhammers and Stimulators are best. If the trout takes the nymph, the dry fly serves as your indicator. Nymphs can also be tied in tandem, enabling you to fish different depths to find where the fish are feeding.


Spring fishing in May can bring rather changeable conditions, so be prepared by bringing along different weights and sizes of flies.  You will also find the salmon getting a little more active and more willing to chase the fly, so don’t be afraid to fish your flies fast. Doubles need to be a range of sizes, and fishing with very small flies in patterns can be effective when the water has dropped significantly. Try aurora shrimp; piglets; golden gunns and the all-time classic, stoat’s tail. Tube flies are most effective when the water is high or you’re fishing in fast-flowing water or deep pots.  Try using tungsten coneheads, various Willie Gunns, snealdas or red Francis coneheads.

Additional Tips

Wet vs. Dry A fly’s construction determines whether it will float above the surface (a dry fly); ride partially or completely submerged (emergers), or sink under the surface (nymphs and streamers). Fish expect their food sources to be in a particular part of the water column, and knowing where that is is important key to good fly selection. Fly Colour and Size If you don’t know where to start with your fly selection? Matching size and colour is more important than worrying about exactly what flies are hatching off, so If fish are rising and there lots of big black flies in the air use a big black dry fly and again if there lots of small brown flies use something small and brown.  Make sure you have a good selection of flies in different colours and sizes.