Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
4. Little Winter Stoneflies
New Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trout Food Series - Part 14
Monday, I stressed the importance of being able to recognize and distinguish
between the different types of nymphs - clinger, swimmer, crawler & burrower; and
larvae - cased, free-living, and net-spinning.
Tuesday, I explained one of two reasons doing so is very important - or part one of
what I call the big "Match The Hatch Mistake" - failing to select a fly that matches
the particular type of nymph or larva we intended to imitate. I pointed out that
most all the emphasis is placed on how well our dry flies match the naturals and little
or no emphasis on how well our flies fished below the surface (nymphs/larvae
imitations) match the naturals. Today, I am continuing with part two of the big "Match
The Hatch Mistake" which happens to be even more important than part one.
Part Two - The Big "Match The Hatch Mistake"
I feel sure most all of you have heard probably heard the saying that "the
presentation of a fly is the more important than the particular fly you use". It's
a well overused and often abused statement that's almost like saying the
engine of an airplane is more important than its wings. The fact is, it takes
both the wings and the engine to get the airplane off the ground and flying.
When it comes to being able to consistently catch trout on imitations of
nymphs, larvae and pupae (flies fished below the surface of the water) both
good fly selections and good presentations are necessary. You could say
that part two of what I call the big "Match the Hatch Mistake" is
presenting the fly the wrong way in all the wrong places.
For purposes of keeping this as simple as possible, I will limit this for the
time being to fishing nymphs. The primary reason for knowing the type of
nymphs you are trying to imitate is that it tells you where and how to fish
the fly you are using to imitate the nymphs. There's only four basic types -
clingers, crawlers, swimmers and burrowers. In the streams of Great Smoky
Mountains National Park, for all practical purposes, we can eliminate the
burrower nymphs. There are a few species of burrowers and the ones that do
exist to any appreciable extent are mostly limited to Abrams Creek. Most of
the mayfly nymphs in the park are clinger nymphs. All of the stonefly nymphs
in the park are clingers. The second most plentiful type of mayfly nymphs are
the swimmers. Almost as plentiful as the swimmer nymphs are the mayfly
During the next three days, I will look at these three types of nymphs as they
relate to the streams of the Smokies, starting with the plentiful clinger
nymphs. First of all, the most plentiful species of clingers are the March
Browns, Quill Gordons, Light Cahills, Cream Cahills and Little Yellow Quills.
Why are these nymphs plentiful? They prefer fast, well oxygenated water and
there's no shortage of that in the Smokies. These mayfly nymphs can actually
"cling" to rocks. They are flat shaped and streamlined such that the water
tends to flow over them. If you don't believe it, try picking one up off of a rock.
By the way, this brings up the next point. You probably won't find one on the
top of a rock. You will need to pick up the rock quickly and look at the bottom
of it. Clinger nymphs live down between and under the rocks on the bottom in
the fast water. You will find them under the rocks in the bottom of runs and
riffles. You will very rarely find one out crawling around on the bottom. They
feed mostly at night and even then, the do so mostly beneath the rocks and in
the cracks and crevices, not just out totally exposed on the bottom. They stay
well hidden and protected from the trout.
There is a time when these clinger nymphs are very exposed and readily
available for trout to eat. It's the pre-hatch period of time when they crawl out
of their hiding places on the bottom of rocks in the faster water to nearby
more moderate water. There they can cling to the rocks and emerge from
their nymphal stage of life into duns. Some actually do this on the bottom or
somewhere between the bottom and the surface (Quill Gordons) and others
emerge in the surface skim in the moderate water adjacent to their fast water
homes for the past year (March Browns, for example).
What all this should mean to you is that even though clinger nymphs are
plentiful, fishing an imitation of a clinger nymph at random doesn't provide
very high odds of success. Fishing an imitation of a clinger nymph from about
a week to two weeks prior to the beginning of the time the particular species
hatch up until the hatch has ended, does provide high odds of success. In the
case of March Browns, which have a long hatch period, this can be over two
months. However, the longer the hatch time, the less intense the hatches or
as it relates to this, the less nymphs available for trout to eat.
Now also keep this in mind. Most all the stonefly nymphs in the Smokies are
clinger nymphs. When they hatch, they crawl out from their hiding places from
the fast water where they lived for the past one to three years, to nearby slow
to moderate water along the banks or at the base of larger rocks and
boulders where they will crawl out of the water and hatch. This migration can
start as much as a few days prior to the start of hatch and last until a certain
species has finished hatching. Fishing an imitation of the stonefly clinger
nymph during this period of time greatly increases your odds of success. It
makes a huge difference.
In summary for clinger nymphs, fishing imitations of clinger nymphs,
mayflies or stoneflies, during a pre-hatch and actual hatch period of time
increases you odds of success by a huge amount.
Fishing a specific imitation of a clinger nymph on a day in and day out basis
doesn't provide very high odds of success. In general, you will only pick up
random, opportunistically feeding trout. There are several other more
productive ways of fishing a nymph during those times.
Also, keep in mind that when you do fish an imitation of a clinger nymph
during a pre-hatch or hatch time, you should present it as moving from the
bottom of the fast water runs and riffles to the closest slow to
moderate water. The naturals crawl across the bottom when they do this
and your nymph should stay right on the bottom.
You should cast your fly in the upper part of the fast water run or riffle, get it
down to the bottom quickly, and bring it into the nearest areas of slower water
where the naturals remain until they hatch. In the case of stoneflies, this
should be the banks or larger rocks and boulders where you suspect they
may crawl out to hatch. In the case of mayflies, this means just inside the slow
part of the current seams between the fast and slower water.
Tomorrow I will get to the Crawler Nymphs and into the big difference
between them and the Clingers and Swimmers.
Down and Dirty (some are clean) Tips and Recommendations for Fly
Fishing Destinations -
Just keep in mind that it is strictly one opinion that happens to be mine. The intent is to hopefully
give those interested a general idea of what to expect. Most likely every guide, affiliated business
entity and local angler will have a different opinion. These streams also have full coverage on our
Perfect Fly Stream Section.
Continued Tomorrow, for real this time
Copyright 2011 James Marsh