Blue-winged olives will be around all month, and will be an event through April. Expect the blue-wings to hatch around 1:00 p.m. (standard time). Slow runs and backeddies are the best places to find fish. For tips on backeddy fishing, see Three Quick Tips for Backeddies.
During a hatch, a size-18 olive Sparkle Dun, Parachute Baetis, or Comparadun should work well for you. If the hatch is intense, a slightly darker pattern will help you spot your fly among the naturals; the trout don't seem to mind the darker color.
The best hatches will be on overcast days, preferably with a light drizzle. This prolongs and intensifies the hatch, getting trout into a proper frame of mind to accept your imitation.
The Smurf Emerger is another option for blue-winged olive hatches. It's a fly developed especially for the Deschutes and is available at Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop in Maupin.
Outside the hatch times, a gold-ribbed Hares Ear or Pheasant Tail (size 18-20) presented near the bottom is a good tactic. Another good nymph pattern is the Zug Bug. It imitates drifting spotted caddis larvae, which are common in the upper 60 miles of the river.
Saddle-case caddis (Glossosoma) are very active this month. A size 16-18 creamy Sparkle Pupa can be productive when dead-drifted near the bottom. If caddis are hatching, this is the most likely genus.
A size-14 black Elk Hair Caddis or Parachute Black Stone should also be in your fly box. The little brown stoneflies are not a prolific hatch, but trout seldom ignores the adults. See Small Brown Stoneflies for details.
Egg Flies are another productive tactic at this time of year. The river has more whitefish than trout, and they spawn in winter. Trout will take roe that is drifting near the bottom.
March browns can become locally important about the second week of the month. A water temperature around 48-50 seems to get the March browns moving in numbers. A size 12-14 brown CDC Cripple or Comparadun works well during the hatch; Deschutes March browns have a tan or creamy underside, so pick your pattern accordingly. This is not a prolific hatch here, but some parts of the lower river have large pockets of March browns.
You may also see an occasional Skwala stonefly this month.
If you dredge a stonefly nymph on the bottom, you might pick up a spawned-out steelhead that is headed downstream. Let it go on its way.
For more on March tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General forecast