The 7 Best Green Drake Fly Patterns: Buy or Tie

Green drake flies drive trout absolutely nuts. Whether you’re fishing with green drake nymphs or dries, when they hatch, trout up their aggression to the next level. These mayflies are …

Green drake flies drive trout absolutely nuts. Whether you’re fishing with green drake nymphs or dries, when they hatch, trout up their aggression to the next level. These mayflies are an easy meal for trout, and they never get enough. Every fly angler needs to experience a green drake hatch in their lives. Fishing the hatch will give you a new spark for fly fishing.

About the Green Drake Hatch

Green drakes hatch in the Western and Eastern United States. The western green drake hatches are fairly legendary when they start in the middle of June. They’ll continue hatching all the way through the beginning of August in most parts of the West. Eastern green drakes will begin to hatch in the late spring and run throughout the summer.

Wherever you can find rocky water that is highly oxygenated and clear, you will find green drake hatches. They’re larger mayflies that travel toward warmer water and warmer weather, so be aware.

The green drake life cycle lasts about one to two years in total, depending on water temperatures. After eggs are laid, the drake will turn into a nymph, and they’ll burrow into the river bottom. Once they’re ready for the adult stage, they’ll move towards the water’s surface with their wings exposed, sit on the surface for a few minutes, and then take flight. By the next day, they’ll have mated and died.

Our Favorite Green Drake Fly Patterns

Eastern Green Drake

If you only can have one green drake fly pattern when you’re fishing out East, go with the Eastern Green Drake. It’s a beautiful, big mayfly pattern and leads to rewarding dry fly fishing. Plus, it’s a great fly to tie for beginner tiers.

Prince Nymph

Prince Nymph

Prince nymphs are an ideal representation of a green drake nymph. It’s flashy enough to attract nearby fish and gets lower in the water column, so you have a good chance of finding those fish feeding on the bottom.

Green Drake Cripple

Green Drake Cripple

The Green Drake Cripple is an ideal dry fly pattern for all of your green drake fishing excursions. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the East Coast or West Coast; this cripple pattern is a realistic representation of a fly that has not yet made it from an emerger to a green drake dun. Rising trout will obsess over this.

CDC Green Drake Emerger

Green Drake CDC Emerger

One of the more often forgotten about stages of a fly is when it’s emerging. Most anglers focus on the nymphs and dries, but trout love green drake mayflies when they’re in the midst of their emerging stage. This pattern will sit just below the surface and make for an easy trout target.

Green Drake Parawulff

If you love fishing with Royal Wulff patterns, the Green Drake Parawulff combines the best parts of it with the style of a green drake fly. The dark gray wings and more attractor style design make this a great search pattern.

Hairwing Western Green Drake

Hairwing Green Drake

If you’re fishing in fast water, the Hairwing Western Green Drake should be your go-to pattern. It sits high on the water column and is extremely realistic.

Green Drake Parachute

Green Drake Parachute

If you want a pure attractor dry fly, the Green Drake Parachute should be near the top of your list. It will catch the attention of trout nearby, and it’s fairly easy to tie.

How to Fish the Green Drake Hatch Successfully

One of the primary things anglers should remember about green drake fishing is that they’re not elegant or graceful insects. They move around on the surface of the water, so prioritize giving your fly a little extra action to gain the attention of the fish.

It’s also important for anglers to have a variety of green drake patterns in their fly box. Whether it’s green drake cripples or parachutes, you can never predict what they will want. I often start with a lower riding fly and then move to a more obnoxious pattern if that isn’t working.

Do not forget to fish emergers. Too many anglers ignore the success they can have if they fish emerger patterns. Trout absolutely love feeding on emerging patterns before the hatch, so do not be afraid to throw one on.

Finally, be sure the tippet you’re using is heavy enough to turn over your fly. Since green drakes are a little larger, a 3x tippet will work just fine. You need that extra power.

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Danny Mooers is a passionate fly fishing and angling writer from Arizona. Danny loves sharing his passion for fly fishing for trout and other species through his work for Tackle Village.
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