Years ago I read an article in Fly Fisherman Magazine about life cycle rigs and it was like turning on a light bulb. While the article wasn’t about BWO’s, I instantly thought of all those times on the river where there were tons of fish rising everywhere and no visible hatch going on. I fish a lot of tail waters with good BWO hatches and often these little mayflies are so minuscule they are hard to see with my aging eyesight and, so are the bugs necessary to fish these hatches successfully.
I came up with the rig pictured specifically to target these hatches of tiny mayflies. The first dropper is the BWO parachute adams, this will serve as our indicator, the second dropper is the BWO comparadun, this is our emerger, and last, but not least is the olive zebra midge, the nymph. I use the parachute fly mostly as an indicator because I can’t see the tiny comparadun, which is pulled just under the surface by the zebra midge. Nine times out of ten rising trout will take the middle dropper, but all you have to do is watch the parachute.
Of course this system is highly adjustable to your needs, by changing the sizes and color of the flies and by changing tippet sizes and lengths, but more times than not this is my starting setup for those mystery hatches that are to small to see with the naked eye. Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think.