5 Best Flies For Fishing The Smith River In April

The Smith River season begins in April, as the first permits allow floating and camping along the river corridor. April can be a gamble for weather and river conditions but permits are generally a lot easier to come by. With this list of the 5 best flies for fishing the Smith River in April, your fly selection doesn’t have to be difficult.

While fishing the Smith River in April is a bit slower than later in the year, you can still find fish willing to eat. As water warms and hatches begin really rolling, fish become more active. Streamflow can be an issue during April – if it’s a late spring the river might be low and super clear, making travel by raft challenging at times. Warmer weather can cause elevated flows and dirty water.

Primary hatches during April include Skwalas and Baetis (Blue Winged Olive). You might find some midges around early in the month, but they are on the way out by this time of year. The premiere hatch of the Smith River, the salmonflies, are still a ways out. They typically show up in late May depending on the water temps and conditions of the year.

Here are our picks for 5 best flies for fishing the Smith River in April.


The Chubby is one of those flies that should always be in the box year round. It is such a great stonefly profile, and floats incredibly well. The large wing can be colored with sharpies to match the hatch, and the buoyant design makes this fly a great choice for a dry/dropper rig. Pair this with a Rubber Legs or Tung Dart and you’re in business.

Fish a smaller size (we like size 10) and olive color to match the Skwalas you’ll see during the month of April. Many commercially tied Chubby’s only come with a bright white wing. This makes it very easy to see, and it’s generally fine in a lot of situations. If you want to get a little techy with things, try darkening these wings to look more gray or brown. Even just a few stripes with a sharpie before the trip can be useful.


The Pat’s Rubber Legs is another all purpose, all season fly that should always be in your box. This is perhaps the best all around stonefly nymph imitation. Since stonefly nymphs live in the river for several years before emerging as adults, they are available year round to trout. It’s a good idea to carry these in several sizes, weights, and colors.

Brown is probably the most versatile color for this pattern but black and black/brown are also super versatile. We recommend a larger (size 6-8) brown Rubber Legs for April to imitate the salmonfly nymphs that will hatch in May. Another great color combo is black with white legs. Fish these deep with a smaller, flashier nymph behind it.

It’s certainly worth carrying some smaller Rubber Legs in olive and olive speckled colors to imitate the Skwala nymphs that abound. Fish these under a Chubby, and near the bank. The large Chubby makes a great indicator fly and fishing the dry/dropper set up like that allows you to cover two different feeding zones.


For those who are a fan of throwing streamers, you’re in luck. April is a great month to strip streamers on the Smith River. Especially when temps rise and a snowmelt makes the water dirty. To cut through the murk, a larger, dark streamer is a great choice. You’ve probably already got some in the streamer box: a black sex dungeon.

The Smith has some epic streamer water. Try bouncing this fly off cliff walls and letting it sink a few feet before stripping it back. There are numerous undercuts and hidey holes that hold trout and you can trigger a predatory response. Toss it up against the grassy banks, deep holes, and other tempting streamer water you’ll float by on your trip.

If flows are down and the water clear, smaller streamers in a variety of streamers will work. It’s good to bring a variety as the water conditions can change drastically and quickly this time of year. White, yellow, olive and all kinds of flashy are good to have for color options. Also bring different profiles of streamers. If you’re getting follows but no eats, try changing up the profile of your fly.

Photo: FlyLords


Dry fly people should expect to see excellent hatches of baetis during the month of April. These hatches are best on days with lots of clouds and wet weather. Having a good emerger pattern can often make the difference between a good and great day with hatches like this. The Film Critic series has long been a favorite of our team. The large wing looks great on the water, and offers a very convincing emerger profile.

Fish this fly 18-24” behind an adult BWO pattern like a Parachute BWO, Parachute Adams, or Sparkle Dun. You can cover two parts of the hatch and see what stage the fish are really keying in on. I’ve found that fishing an emerger often outproduces an adult significantly. Apply floatant only to the wing of this pattern to have the body hang below the surface like the real deal.


When fish aren’t actively eating Baetis on the surface, you can bet they’re eating them subsurface. BWO nymphs will be active and prolific during this month, and nymphing for them can produce great results on days when the hatch doesn’t materialize. The Tung Dart is a soft hackle style fly that has really good movement and a general “buggy” look. The tungsten bead helps it get down and it’s color and profile can be used for many hatches pretty much all year.

The Tung Dart is one of our favorite all purpose nymphs. Just enough sparkle to add some attraction and a profile and color that covers almost any hatch. Fish this behind a larger attractor pattern such as a Rubber Legs or under a dry fly like a Chubby. During April, you can cover two feeding zones and two hatches at once!

While many patterns will work, we believe these are the 5 best flies for fishing the Smith River during April. Check water conditions and the forecast before you go, and be willing to be flexible with your fishing plans. Remember you can rent fully outfitted rafts that are ideal for overnight raft trips like the Smith from us. Book now before dates fill up!

Good fishing out there!


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