An oft-overlooked fly on many Western rivers is the Little Yellow Stonefly — more commonly known as the Yellow Sally.
Its brethren the Little Green Stonefly, or Lime Sally, suffers the same fate: both tend to hatch sporadically and in localized clusters, and many fly fishers aren't aware of their importance to feeding trout when the fish lock in on them.
Certainly neither fly garners the same attention as the more glamorous salmonflies or Golden Stones, but I've salvaged many a slow afternoon on B.C.'s Elk River by coming across a 'micro' hatch of Sallies along a sheltered, brushy bank. That seems to be their preferred habitat — the out-of-the-way spots where the nymphs crawl ashore, emerge, then mate in bankside foliage until the females return to the water to dip and lay their eggs. The most consistent dry-fly fishing tends to be from mid-afternoon to early evening.
The Elk's cutthroat rarely pod up for Sallies the way they will for thick hatches of Baetis or PMDs, but the bright little stoneflies entice some big trout from their secret lairs when they're dancing on the water. The same can be said for most Western freestone rivers and streams; in our guiding area Sallies also account for a lot of trout on the Oldman, Bull, and West Kootenay drainages.
I'm fortunate to have the Slocan River right down the hill from my cabin, and many an afternoon I've slipped away for a few hours to catch rainbows on Sally imitations. Even when the naturals aren't about most Sally patterns double as great attractors, which makes them versatile right through the summer.
Despite its small stature as far as stoneflies go, the Sally is still a relatively large bug, and I tie the bulk of my patterns on size 12 and 14 hooks. My favourite is a parachute imitation loosely modeled on the L.P. Caddis — a foam pattern (pictured below, left) that floats great and really stands out when tied with a Hi-Vis post.
Instead of foam, I tie the Sallies with MFC Flex Wing in Mottled Web; it still floats fine under a well-hackled post, and the wing's translucence over the chartreuse body makes the fly pop from the trout's perspective. Another good Sally pattern is the time-honoured Lime Trude. It's been around for decades, is simple to tie, and the Royal Trude variant is one of the best attractors ever.
So there you have it — another fly to add to your Western arsenal. On those dog-day August afternoons this season, I know I'll be keeping an eye out for Sallies along the banks, and hopefully a hog cuttie or two scarfing them down beneath an overhanging willow.