Ever had a sucker/redhorse rise to a dry fly?

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Ever had a sucker/redhorse rise to a dry fly?
<p>Hey Corey and crew!&nbsp; Website looks great!&nbsp; It&#39;s been quite a while since I&#39;ve been here...lots of changes.</p> <p>Anyway, I was cruising a local fly fishing website and a guy claims to have caught &quot;suckers&quot; on dry flies.&nbsp; I questioned him a little about it, and it turns out he might have mis-identified the fish.&nbsp; He was not very good at describing exactly what he caught, and so far, I haven&#39;t seen any pictures.&nbsp; He said the fish were around 10&quot; long.</p> <p>So, I&#39;ve been a fly fisherman for quite a while, and a roughfisher my whole life, and I&#39;ve never seen nor heard of sucker species taking food off the surface.&nbsp;&nbsp; However, I haven&#39;t seen or done everything!&nbsp; Has anyone here ever seen sucker species feeding on the surface, or caught them on dry flies?&nbsp; Thanks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Brian</p>
andy's picture
Highly unlikely...

Hey Brian!  Good to hear from the esteemed leakywaders.  The only sucker species I have seen feeding on the surface were bigmouth buffalo, and that is definitely not what this guy caught.  Even during heavy mayfly hatches and cottonwood seed falls, I haven't seen a bottom-feeding sucker come up top.  They just aren't designed for that.  Depending on where this guy was fishing, maybe it was a whitefish or a chub?

Hey Andy,  Your comment about

Hey Andy,  Your comment about not being designed to feed on the surface is exactly what I told him.  I believe he caught large chubs.  Pretty sure he was in Wisconsin.  Thanks.

the pyromaniac
the pyromaniac's picture
I was thinking chubs too.
I was thinking chubs too. There's no shortage of guys catching suckers on the fly, but I just can't see them rising to a dry.....




Let there be fire!

Jknuth's picture
I was talking to Corey a few

I was talking to Corey a few weeks ago about the schools fo Black redhorse we ran into in Missouri. Dozens of them suspended about a foot from the surface over pools 3-6' deep. Every once and a while one would roll at tthe surface. 
We had a massive hatch and I think they were hitting emerging and rising insects. Still not a dryfly though. 

SK Justin
SK Justin's picture
Not exactly, but...

I have seen a white sucker chase down and consume an emerging insect. Initially, it was the insect that caught my eye as it was rapidly ascending to the surface. Then right behind the insect appeared a white sucker which overtook it with enough momentum to hit the surface. It was definitely one of the cooler visuals that has remained etched in my mind.

brad's picture
Speaking of suckers on the fly....

I'm glad this was just posted! I have been trying all week to get a bigmouth buffalo on the fly. They feed on the surface, and when I finally get a good cast to them (I just started fly fishing), they get scared. My strategy is to just get the fly close enough to their mouth that they just suck it in. But is there an easier way? Or should I try something else? Thanks.

andy's picture
flyrod bigmouths

Brad, you're in for a maddening time getting bigmouths on a fly.  However, you have found a perfect scenario to do so and really that is not all that common.  You said they spook when you finally get a "good" cast to them -- well, that's not a good enough cast then.  You need to land an unweighted fly very delicately on the water and guide it into their direct path.  It's not easy.  I would use at least 9 feet of leader and a 5x or 4x tippet and sparse flies like a san juan worm or caddis pupa or maybe a soft hackle no larger than size 10.  Take stock in the fact that bigmouths are usually less spooky than carp.

Moose439's picture
I seen Blueeye sight fish a

I seen Blueeye sight fish a small river  that rose up to mid water colum for his bait. It was in the same river in Missouri Josh was talking about.

TonyS's picture
I've seen pictures of white

I've seen pictures of white suckers allegedly caught on dry flies in colorado.  they were all from alpine lakes which have very slim pickins for food so maybe the whities got desparate enough to swat surface bugs.  generally I'd say highly unlikly to get one on a dry - they just ain't built for that.  Most likely the guy is catching chubs - which people seem to confuse both for trout and for suckers surprisingly often

brad's picture
Andy, I have been seeing

Andy, I have been seeing bigmouth buffalo feeding on the surface for years. They do it 24/7. No matter what season. Especially at the mouth of a feeder creek that feeds the lake I fish. Usually on summer afternoons/evenings, you can find at least 50 bigmouths feeding on the surface. And that's not including the ones in the rest of the creek before it finally enters the lake. I went today and fly fished at the mouth for TWO hours and caught NOTHING. It was my fault though, because I forgot to check this forum before I went. I was using an unweighted pink moth fly about the size of a half dollar. I think it's too big. You said to use a San Juan Worm, Caddis pupa, or soft hackle. I am still very much new to fly fishing, so I had to look up what those were. I don't have any way to get a San Juan Worm or Caddis Pupa fly this week, but I do have a fly that looks very similar to the soft hackle fly. I'll try that for now. Also, you said size 10. What would you compare that to in size? Penny, tumbnail, dime? Are those anywhere near it? Too big, too small? Haha I don't know much about it. And believe it or not, I actually was fishing the way you said though. I casted it ahead of them, reeled it in to their path and waited for them to suck it in. But once they got it right in front of their mouth, they would slowly submerge and reappear somewhere else nearby. I'm guessing it was the fly? I had only one hookup, but it got off within two seconds. Some of them would suck it in and then shoot it right back out. Say I tried one of the flies you said to use, and it sucked in the fly, how do I know it won't shoot it back out? Or do I need to try a differentt hookset or something? Anyways, I appreciate it Andy. Thanks for the help. -Brad


Jknuth's picture
I use a few different flies.

I use a few different flies. Most are small #14 ish 
The hook is about a 1/4" long. I have made a few algea flies for some locations using green bucktail and marabou. otherwise I normally use cheap dry flies but abuse the hackle so they wont float but sit an inch or so beneath the surface.
With a small fly it can be very hard to see the strike and nearly impossible to feel it. 
I normally watch the fish. when they take a piece of food into their mouths they will sink slightly, their mouth will pump at a different pace then before. normally a few quick twitches of their mouth. And their pectoral fins will often flick quickly.
Its subtle but when I see this I normally do a smooth sweeping hookset. Then HOLD ON!

Another thing that works well for me is a #12 or #14 hook with a tiny float (just enough to cast) For bait I use a small waxworm or a maggot/spike. the float is set about 2-3" 
Cast upstream and see how they respond to it. I have had them eat the bobber, that can get frustrating. 

JK's picture
How 'Bout Carp?

Howdy LeakyWaders!


Carp are about the only sucker-type fish designed (mostly) to feed on the bottom that I've encountered feeding regularly on the surface. I've never heard of any redhorse, white, or blue suckers feeding up top.


The guy you ran across probably caught creek chubs. In poor lighting, if you were drunk, they might be mistaken for suckers.