Fly Tying and Patterns, what separates your ability to catch fish on a daily basis.  Learn from some of the best fly tiers in the Midwest.  From Chuck Hawkins Nutcracker, to Russ Maddin Circus Peanut.  Hawkins Outfitters guides share their knowledge on how to tie the perfect streamer or dry fly.

Sulphur Dun

Sulphur Hatch

Sulphur Hatch

Sulphur Hatch

Many anglers that I know in Northern Michigan consider the Sulphur hatch to be the very best hatch of the year. It is a fairly long and usually very prolific hatch. It can last as long as a month in northern Michigan. Due to the usually large numbers of bugs, Sulphurs will produce some very large fish for the size of the dry fly.

There are two Sulphurs, the Ephemerella  invaria and the dorothea. The first to hatch the invaria is a size 12-14 and the next bug, dorothea is a size 16-18. Don’t worry, that’s the last of the Latin!

What you really need to know about sulphurs follows. It is good to carry Sulphurs from size 12 to 18. I’m a big fan of the Robert’s Yellow Drake pattern and use it primarily for my sulphur imitation. I carry it in all four sizes. Hatch times vary by bug and weather Sulphur Dunbut look for them anytime from mid afternoon until dark for the little guys. Fish can get very selective on these flies. At times you may encounter duns of one size hatching and spinners of another size falling at the same time. They can also get focused on emergers of any size. Close observation is key here.

Speaking of spinners, they are a different color than the duns. Instead of the sulphur yellow they spin having changed to a tannish to rusty color. So again you need to have three or four sizes of rusty spinners. Sulphurs will spin over riffles very late in the day, even at dark.

To effectively fish the Sulphur hatch a fly angler should have emergers, duns and spinners in at least two sizes, 14 and 18. It is better to carry them in all four sizes, 12-18 if possible. You should be on the water by 3:00 pm and stay until close to dark.  You need to be very observant because this time of year is generally the most complex time of year hatch wise. In addition to all of the sulphurs there are many other mayflies that may be present.

Good luck, see you on the water.


streamer fishing

Upcoming Fly Tying Demo’s

Scientific Anglers Muskie

Any questions about location or time, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to let you know more details.  Also feel free to call the shops, as they can explain the layout of each event a little bit more in detail.

We continue to work on the site, as you will see in the main navigation there has been a new tab added.  FLY PATTERNS, we are trying to make the navigation easier and have added three sub categories.  New patterns are being photographed and filmed now, we have added only 4 patterns so far, but new ones are on the way.  Check out the layout and let us know if you have any thoughts.

Thank you

dragon fly

Dragonfly Hatch

dragon fly hatch

Dragonfly Hatch

Tips and Techniques for fly fishing in Patagonia!


On my recent tip to Rio Manso Lodge in Patagonia near San Carlos de Bariloche, I had some eye opening experiences. I learned a lot about the dragonfly hatch. I learned some tips and techniques from the guides there that showed me ways to catch trout unlike anything I’ve seen in Michigan. Fishing the dragonfly hatch in Patagonia will blow your mind!


Those of you that know me realize that I’m an unapologetic streamer junky. If I go fishing I throw streamers unless I see good fish rising to dry flies. Fly fishing in Patagonia I’ve always brought my streamer staples, Nutcrackers, Hat Tricks, Triple Doubles and Lapdancers. These streamers, along with some simpler, bugger kind of stuff, has yielded me many large fish all over Patagonia.


On this, my most recent trip to Fly fish in Patagonia, dry flies were king. We left Michigan a couple days after Christmas on the advice of John Bleh. He’s the marketing director for Rio Manso Lodge near Bariloche. John advised that we would hit the dragonfly hatch. This hatch is like having an all day hex hatch. We caught brookies to 22 inches, rainbows to 24 and brown trout to 25 inches.


Fishing dragonflies is different then most other dry fly fishing I’ve done. The dragonflies are hatching mostly near the reed beds so that’s were the majority of the action happened. We were fishing mostly 2X, 9 foot leaders. You would cast as close to or even into the reed areas and twitch the fly. If you were in the reeds a very light touch would allow you to work the fly through the reeds and clear it before casting again. If you pulled you hooked the reeds, which were very unforgiving, you had to row in to retreive your fly. That alerted the fish to your presence and “blew” that area for awhile.


The other different thing to learn was the set. Most of the time the fish blew up on the dragonfly imitation, many times going straight up in the air with it in their mouths. So you set on fish flying through the air. A different method, but very cool.


It’s hard to describe the excitement of the dragonfly hatch and its importance in fly fishing Patagonia. One of the best patterns was a staple in our boxes here in Michigan, it’s our Damsel Pattern (see video below) , invented by Jon Ray. In this video I will show you how to tie this dragon fly, damsel fly pattern. We tie it in three colors, black, blue and green. The black variation was dynamite for the dragonfly hatch recently.


If you love dry fly fishing, big trout and explosive takes, fly fishing in Patagonia for the dragonfly hatch is for you. Join us next year!



flash monkey

Flash Monkey Fly Pattern

Flash Monkey

Flash Monkey by Russ Maddin from Mangled Fly Media on Vimeo.

The Flash Monkey Fly Pattern by Russ Maddin, is the latest streamer pattern from the creator of the popular Circus Peanut, Mad Pup, and South Bound Trucker. As in the past, Russ continues to push the evolution of fly tying – this pattern combines new materials from FlyMen and Hareline Dubbing with traditional hackles from Whiting Farms.

Requiring over 2 years to perfect, the Flash Monkey needed to meet Russ’ strict streamer standards. Countless trips to the river testing the Flash Monkey ensured it was properly balanced and moved in the river currents for maximum effectiveness.

Tying Video

This video is more than a simple tying demo. It breaks down the Flash Monkey and gives you full access into the mind of fly designer, fisherman , and river steward Russ Maddin. As he discusses his methods of tying, how to fish the pattern, and more. It also includes Q&A with Jon Ray discussing several retrieves to bring this fly to life, the best Scientific Anglers fly lines for the pattern, and how to build your leader to get the most out of your fly.

No matter your experience level you’ll learn something from this video. If you’re into streamer fishing – no matter the species – this is a must-watch video.

Damsel Fly Pattern

Black Damsels seem to get very little attention from Michigan anglers. But when they fly gets too close to the surface of the water. Brown trout and brook trout love this easy meal. With water levels up, and some big fish close to shore hunting. The Black Damsel is getting noticed. Also this fly has a big profile and with dirty water in most trout streams from all the recent rains. It is best to go big or go home. Here is a keep it simple foam based pattern that is easy to tie but still catches fish.

Before the Hatch

What do you throw before the hatch this week, I would suggest you throw a stonefly pattern.  With a little bit of high water in the area with all the rain.  Your going to need a big profile to grab attention.  With water temps coming back on the rise after the weekends cold front, stoneflies will be hatching (crawling out) and then laying eggs in the afternoon and evening.  Twitch a big stimulator around before the mayfly hatch.  You might be surprised who comes up and eats it.  Check out Ed McCoy’s Stonefly Stimulator pattern in this video for an easy tie.

Manistee River Trout, Dry Fly Fishing, June Hatches, Isonychia, Great Slate Winged Drake, Drake Fishing, Isonychia, White Gloved Howdy

Hexes, and other big bugs!

Hexes at night

Hexes at night

Hexes and other big bugs!

Manistee River trout fishing is some of the finest dry fly fishing that can be found in the Midwest. Trout can be taken on the surface regularly between April and October but Manistee River dry fly trout fishing really rocks when the big flies are hatching. Hexes, Drakes, and Isonychia mayflies provide Michigan fly-fishing anglers, some of the finest dry fly fishing to be found anywhere.

Drakes are important

For literary purposes I’m lumping together Gray and Brown Drakes, the awesome Isonychia, the mighty Hexes, and the lesser known Golden, Yellow and Green Drakes. These are the biggest bugs of the year from a size 12 to a size 6; these super-sized mayflies bring big, wary, brown trout to the surface to feed. That’s the good news. From there it gets a little more complicated. You need to know the habits and habitat of these bugs to be a successful “Manistee River Drake Angler”.


The most numerous and famous of these mayflies are the Brown Drakes and the Hexes. Like the Green, Yellow and Golden Drakes, the Hex and the Brown Drake are all burrowing nymphs that live in the mucky areas of the river. So your first step is to locate those slower stretches of river where the muck is.


Second step is to look for those areas with enough cover to hold big fish. Thirdly, figure out the drifts, ingress and egress from the river, and where to fight a large fish before it gets dark. When it’s dark out and big fish are smashing mayflies you need gray draketo know these things to be both safe and successful. All of these mayflies hatch and spin at, or after dark so you need to be in the river looking for them well before dark. Be prepared to fish duns and spinners, many times they will both be on the water during the evening. To see an example of this watch some Hexagenia Video.

How to fish Hexes and Brown Drakes

You are going to be fishing to large fish at or after dark. A couple of tips to help you be successful. First use a short leader to help you control the drift. I use a 6 foot, 2X leader for the hex hatch or spinner fall. Secondly, wade as close to the fish as you can. The most common reason for failure is drag on the fly because you can’t see to mend correctly. If you can get close enough to high stick you will be dead drift.


Identifying Brown Drakes and Hexes is easy, Brown Drakes have 3 tails and Hexes have 2. Both bugs have a yellowish cast to them with Brown Drakes a size 10 and hex a size 8 or 6. Because of the size of the hook patterns for both flies usually incorporate lots of buoyant material. Be careful of the heavily dressed “tourist hexes”.  The trout usually won’t touch an overly dressed fly after a couple of days into the hatch.

Grey Drakes

Gray Drakes live in opposite habitat. Look for Gray Drake Spinner clouds over riffles at dark. Gray Drakes are maybe the easiest bugs to identify; they are a size 12 mayfly with a white stripe around the head and eyes. Tie them with a very narrow, slight body. They are the skinniest of the bunch.


Manistee River trout fishermen have arguably the best bug available for imitation by a fly angler. It is the Isonychia, also known as the White Glove Howdy due to its cream colored forelegs. The Isonychia is a free swimming nymph that sometimes crawls out of the water to hatch and other times you will see them hatching in the water. When it hatches it’s gray like an Adams and when it spins it’s mahogany colored. The Isonychia is one of those bugs that trout just love to eat. It must taste good! Isonychias spin just before dark.  I’ve never seen a good Iso spinner fall that didn’t get the big fish up and eating. Look for Iso’s all of June and well into July in areas of heavy gravel. They like to deposit their eggs in the riffles. Isonychia nymphs can be fished very successfully by actively swimming the nymph into log jams and other heavy cover and stripping them out. Hang on, trout love these big bugs.


Hawkins Guides are experts, we know where to find Hexes and other big bugs. If your interested in seeing them and going after the trout that like to eat them, give us a call. You can reach us at 231-228-7135 or email Chuck directly at You can also reach one of our guides by using our contact page.