The Golden Days
I recently went on a fly-bin organizing rampage one night at the shop and noticed a trend... we have a ton of golden stone patterns! I believe 22 different ones to be exact. Not including the ones that we have multiple sizes in. After the 9 hour overhaul of the fly bins, all of the flies now are more categorized and easier to find. It got me thinking though about why we have so many golden stonefly patterns.
Golden stones are a hatch that tends to overlap the salmon flies, but unlike the salmon flies, the goldens tend to linger around substantially longer than the salmons. I have seen golden stone fly hatches as early as late April, and as late as the beginning of September. Hatches do get fairly light as the summer progresses, but seeing a bug here and there is not uncommon. My frame of reference for this article is mostly our regional fisheries such as the St. Joe, NF Coeur d'Alene, Clark Fork, NF Clearwater and Kelly Creek, etc. I'm sure it's the case in other parts of the west as well.
The fact that the goldens are the last of the big stoneflies in our area (skwalas, salmons, goldens) and the fact that they hatch longer / later into the season than the others makes them a great "searching" pattern. Fish have seen them numerous times, they are a big chunk of protein, they are easy for anglers to see, and they make a great lead fly for hanging a sizable bead head dropper below. You look at the popularity of the chubby chernobyl which first was tied in a golden stone color by the now defunct company Idylewilde Flies. The golden chubby still today since it's inception is one of our top selling dry flies all season long.
If you are new to fly fishing, or just not sure what to put on sometimes, tie on a golden stone pattern and start from there. The fish know what they are and they are fun to fish. Oh, and if you need to get some more golden stones for your fly box... you know where to find a bunch!