Spring River Arkansas Fly Fishing

Your Guide To Fly Fishing the Spring River in Arkansas

Trout Eggs - Though not an "insect" I would like to include it as a part of this section. I have no reference to state but I am pretty sure the origin of power bait comes from such. A typical brown trout usually lays around 900 eggs per pound and a typical rainbow is 1000 per pound. so think about how many pounds of fish are in the river and what a food source that is for all of those trout. It is important to understand when trout spawn to recognize when we can use these patterns to capitalize on these fish.
Alevins at the beginning of the life cycle will stay in the gravel of the stream bed. They will stay there for a couple of months. The exact time depends of water conditions.  

Fresh water river snails are in huge abundance in the Spring River year round. If I had only one fly for the Spring, it would be a snail pattern in size 10 brown. 

Though these snails are very productive on the river at times, they are also very good at puncturing holes in your waders. Please be careful. 


Mayflies belong to the order of Ephemeroptera containing around 2500 species world wide but about 630 species in North America alone. The lifespan of the adult fly is usually around a day but could be shorter are longer depending on the particular species. Some species could only live as an adult for just a few minutes. 


Stages of the mayfly includes basically the following:

  1. Egg
  2. Nymph
  3. Emerger
  4. Dun
  5. Spinner
  6. Spent

The egg stage is of no use or importance to the fly fisher. The most useful of the stages listed is the nymph stage as far as time in the water but the emerged and above stages are also the fun for fly fishers. 


Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayfly

Enough can not be said about the mayfly nymph. It is often under estimated as a food source for trout. Turn over a rock or look in some vegetation and you will find this insect every where. The surprising thing about this insect is the size. A size 18 would be the "big" size for this fly. it is common in the 20 to 26 sizes. Size below 18 would be extremely large but becomes more of an "attractor" pattern. 


When first approaching river sections, using an imitation fly in a size 18 along with a snail pattern or Y2K is very efficient. 

Mayfly emergers are common insect hatches on the Spring. The sizes of these emergences are extremely large compared to size dry flies fished on the tailwater rivers of this region. The tailgaters do not have or has a very limited mayfly hatch and emergences compared to the spring where it is truly reflected as a western river. 


Picture compliments of troutnut.com

Mayfly adult hatches on the spring are more common than hatches on the tail waters. However, they are still rare event but the angler must have a multitude of sizes and species tied to accommodate such hatches. 


Caddislies belong to the order of trichoptera that contains over 12,000 species. They are also called other names such as sedge flies or rail flies. When inspecting an adult spices of caddisfly, it is often in resemblance to a small moth. This is probably because trichoptera are closely related to butterflies and moths. 

Caddisflies life cyle has an agautic stage called the larva and the pula along with the emergence stage. Caddis flies have a wide and varying habits of waters but water usualy has to be clean. The larval stage of many species spinns silk and uses to build protective cases or webs to catch food in the aquatic environment in which it dwells. 

Generally, caddis flies have 5 stages of development including egg, larva, pupa, emergence and adult. The egg part of the stage is not useful for trout fishing due to its very small sized eggs. The most useful stages include the other 4 stages. Stage lengths vary from species to species but generaly speaking, the larval stages can last up to a year or more while the emergence and adult stages last on a matter of weeks or even less. 

reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caddisfly

The beginning of the usable life of a caddisfly is its larval caddis fly stage. Varying in size from size 24 all the up to size 6, the larval stages of the caddisfly can become useful and often overlooked pattern on the spring. 


There are lots of color and variations but generally the Spring has olives and light greens with black heads.


The larval stage can last for weeks to months. The pattern is effective year round.  

Caddis pupa is a very short period of time for this stage of the insect. Included in this life stage is the emergence of the insect into the adult. 

Adult Caddis flies are prevalent in Northern Arkansas. However, even though they do exist on the Spring River, they are not commonly fished but are an important fly to keep in the fly box. 


"Midges are a group include many kinds of small flies; found (seasonally or otherwise) on practically every land area outside permanently arid deserts and the frigid zones. The most common midge, inhabits urban areas are known to cause skin irritation and are attracted to plasma screens and other light source. The term "midge" does not define any particular taxonomic group, but includes species in several families of Nematoceran Diptera. Some midges, such as manyPhlebotominae (sand fly) and Simuliidae (black fly), are vectors of various diseases. Many others play useful roles as prey items for insectivores, such as various frogs and swallows. Others are important as detritivores, participating in various nutrient cycles. The habits of midges vary greatly from species to species, though within any particular family midges commonly have similar ecological roles."

Midges are by far, one of the most useful food sources in the Arkansas Ozarks. However, the Spring River of Arkansas fly fisherman does not normally utilize fly imitations for species due to the much larger other species since the Spring is a freestone river and is not fed by a dam system. The river constant flows seems to "grow" larger insects making the pursuit of such insects  of the larger species of mayflies and caddis flies more "fruitful" for trout to pursue due to their larger size and more protein content. 


Important stages of the midge species to consider would include: 


  1. larva
  2. Pupa
  3. emerger
  4. Adult
The more important stages include the pupa and emerges. Adults that land on the water to lay eggs is also important to have flies resembling these midges. It is important to note that it is very rare to use midges on the Spring River of Arkansas though not impossible to catch fish with midges. It just simply may be easier and more profitable for the fly fisherman to use other imitations of insects that are much larger. Midge fishing this river would be an advantage in some instances but simply rare. 

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midge



Midge larvae comes in various colors and sizes. Generaly, they are usually black and red with flesh colors are also availble. Size vary from a size 12 to a size 32 or even smaller. Common sixes though would be a size 16 to a size 26 in reds and blacks. 

Midges are usually reserved for fishing the Arkansas Tailwaters. 

Midge pupa are also rarely fished in the Spring River system but is available. Size 16 to size 24 hook sizes are common. See above video of the pupa stage. 

Midge emergers are also common and trout can be seen feed on them subsurface. The winter is a great time to use these patterns on the river when not much other insect activity is not going on. Though rare that midges are good on this river due to availability of other sources of protein that is simply more per insect due to size. Midges are extremely small and the trout must work a lot more for the same amount of protein. 


If using these patterns, size 16 to 24 ranges work depending on rainfall. generally larger sizes work fine due to constant flow of the river. 

Adult midges are very common in the Ozark region as well as the Spring River. Hatches ocur year long and if you see rises in the winter, its likely that its a midge hatch. 

Sizes 18 to 24 is common and trout can even be selective on size 26.