How to Fish Emerger Flies: A Complete guide

Kristian Ole



How to fish emerger flies depends on a simple secret; the fish’s behavior. The behavior is usually triggered by climate or insect hatching seasons.

If you are a commercial fisherman or just a fishing hobbyist, you should learn a thing or two about emerger flies. The primary intention is to learn how to fish emerger flies.

Emergers are very effective when it comes to fishing. But to the surprise, many fly fishers ignore these patterns.

However, millions of people will tell you they love fly fishing. It’s a very flexible fishing method. To fishing hobbyists, it’s an exciting task that you’ll love no matter the circumstances.

Take, for instance, different weather conditions that affect fish behavior. During cold or windy seasons, you’ll find fish settled at the bottom.

In another case, underwater insects transform from the nymphal stage to adults at a particular season. Trout fish, for example, settle at the bottom during these seasons to gobble any insect that emerges.

You need to acquaint yourself with tips on fishing emergers in all the above events.

Your planned fishing day is already here. And knowing the appropriate emerger patterns like CDC Mayfly emerger can make your day great.

Understanding Emergers: A Brief Overview

You might be wondering what emergers are. Or how do you fly fish emergers? Worry not, I got you covered.

Emergers in fly fishing are imitators of certain emerging insects. Mayfly, midges, and caddis are examples of emerging insects. They hatch out from the nymphical stage to adults by moving up to the water surface.

Let’s face it;

Back in your school days, in biology or science classes, you learned how certain insects change from nymph to adult. An example is a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. It was a great science topic unless you missed the class.

During the hatching period, the insects move from the water base to the surface. Usually, they are protected by a shuck.

After the insects reach the surface, they break out of the shack and float, waiting for the wings to stiffen. At this stage, they become vulnerable to fish. Thankfully, this is the strategy you implement when you fish emerger flies.

Related article: Dry fly vs Wet fly – what is the difference?

How to Fish Emerger Flies

man fly fishing in big river

To effectively use the emergers, you must be keen to notice certain activities over the water. Take the first few minutes to observe the fish behavior once you arrive at the river.

If you see bugs in the air, it’s clear that insects are hatching. Usually, you’ll see trout coming to the water surface. Additionally, if you see fish’s noses on top, they are feeding on something above.

Secondly, if you see the back of the trout below the water surface, they are probably feeding on nymphs.

Here is how to fish emerger flies depending on the fish behavior;

On top

Set your emergers on the water surface like the usual dry fly. At this point, you have a good chance to target the fish feeding on hatched adult insects.

Always have a floatant to keep the emerger at the top. Ideally, set a dropper behind your dry fly. In preparation, you should choose your best emerger pattern.

There are two main types. Take a look;

  1. Flush floating Emergers

Flush floating emergers are lightweight materials with wings similar to an emerging adult insect’s. They imitate insects floating on the water surface.

They are often secured on a straight shack hook and well supported to horizontally float on the water.

As a beginner, it’s always easy to use.

  1. Descending Body Emergers

Descending body emergers imitate insects with partially withdrawn from nymphal covering. The abdomen is well set to lay under the water surface. The emerger float pod and wings float on the surface.

The setup entices trout looking for prey, and eventually, the hook performs its duty.

Just Below the Water Surface

older man fly fishing in still river water

Just cast your emergers without a floater and let them sink at least 12 inches below the water surface. The dry fly may not get the job done at times if the weather isn’t favorable for the fish to swim to the surface.

You can set the dry fly imitator with floatant and extend the line at least 12 inches to act as a guide. This idea has worked for me in trapping trouts.

The method may not be effective if the fish are feeding on the dropping flies or the water is muddy.

Another method you may choose is tight line nymphing. The method entails using a shorter line while attaching the dry flies.

The method enables you to control the emerger depth if you’re targeting fish below the water surface.

Nyphing Period

At this stage, you target the fish aiming to gobble the rising insects from the water floor. You can tie the emerger with a heavier fly to float to the water floor.

Use the merger with some foam on the surface to enable it to float from the bottom. Leave a small length allowance from the fly to allow the emerger to float.

Related article: How to organize your fly box

Emerger Pattern Examples

Emergers are made of different materials and designs. Despite the primary types; flush floating and descending body, here are some other examples;

  1. CDC Midge Pupa

It mimics midge, and it’s one of the most popular emergers with fishers. It’s manufactured in different sizes, species, and colors.

CDC Midge Pupa is a type of descending body emerger.

  1. Pale Morning Dun

It represents mayflies, and you can fish them throughout summer and spring. It’s the most popular in North America and very effective in fly fishing.

  1. F fly

It’s made of thread or dubbing, and the wings are made of CDC feathers. It’s a descending body emerger type.

What Does a Barr’s Emerger Imitate?

A Barr Emerger imitates Blue-winged olive. It’s a simple but very productive emerger insect.

Is An Emerger a Wet Fly?

Both wet fly and dry fly are emergers. A wet fly is fished deeper into the water, probably at the floor. It represents an emerger that’s just leaving the bottom to the water surface.

What is An Emerger Pattern?

Emerger patterns represent insects before they become adults. It’s the stage they are more vulnerable to trouts because they have mastered their seasons. The emergers imitate the actual flies and work best in trapping fish.

Related: How to tie a fly line leader and tippet


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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