03/29/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Little Brown Stoneflies
4.    Quill Gordons
5.    Blue Quills
6.    Little Black Caddis
9.    Hendricksons and the Red Quills

The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Casting Part 5
Continued tomorrow

Hendrickson Nymphs:
In searching the streams of Great Smoky Mountain National Park the past several
years for Hendrickson and Red Quill nymphs, Angie and I found that you could
check dozens of random locations for these nymphs without finding any. Of course,
the odds can be greatly increased if you check the right type of water. Once we
started looking for them specifically, as opposed to just checking for nymphs with
our kick nets, we would find them just about every location we checked. You don't
want to check areas with mostly rock bottom. They prefer some sand, gravel or
other soft bottom but they are found where there's a combination of the hard and
soft bottoms.

As mentioned yesterday, these mayflies don't live in fast water. They live in
moderate or what many angles use to the Smokies may even call slow water. You
will find them only at the very ends of long sections of riffles or a run. You will also
find them in most shallow areas, meaning less than three feet, of the pools. Large
pools with moderate flows are the prime locations. You won't find them in the
pockets within heavy pocket water or slack water along the banks like many BWOs
and Blue Quills.

This is yet another big reason the average Smoky mountain angler doesn't mention
the Hendrickson/Red Quill hatch very often. They don't fish pools and the slower
water ends of the long runs and riffles where these mayflies live. They avoid this
type of water because as a general rule, it's more difficult to fish. Most anglers use
attractor fly patterns and/or otherwise, poor imitations of the real things and
consequently, they must rely on fishing the fast water where the trout have little
opportunity to examine the fly. To put it bluntly, most local Smoky Mountain anglers
cannot catch trout from slow to moderate water areas of the streams, or I'll be nicer
and say, they just don't fish slower water because they normally get poor results.

I'll get into the details in the upcoming articles but for now, lets just say the hatch
can produce a lot of trout, fished correctly, but the spinnerfall can be fantastic. It's
common to catch two or three fish on successive cast when your fishing the
spinnerfall. These mayfly spinners fall in good numbers in rather small locations and
when they do, the trout have a feast. It's not true in the Smokies, but in many
Eastern trout streams, the Hendrickson/Red Quill spinnerfall is the highlight of the
season.

Back to the nymphs, if you know the Hendrickson's/red Quills are hatching, fishing
an imitation of the nymph can be very productive. These nymphs get fully exposed
in open water at the bottom of shallow pools, and the slow water ends of long runs
and riffles when they congregate to hatch.
Knowing exactly when and where
the hatch is taking place is the key to this
, otherwise you would be waisting a
lot of time. The trout don't focus or concentrate on feeding on these nymphs at the
same time many other aquatic insects are hatching during the Spring prior to the
beginning of a hatch. When the hatch starts, they will ignore the fast water clingers
in preference of the crawlers. They are easier for the trout to acquire than most of
the clingers or the hidden swimmers and crawlers.

You have to use lighter and longer leaders for this. I use a 12 foot, size 5X leader
with split shot added about eight inches above the nymph. You have to stay low and
make much longer cast to keep the trout from seeing you in most situations. If you
can approach the tail-out of a pool with a drop in elevation that allows you to wade
up close and low, you can greatly increase your odds. There's not many of these
areas but when you find one, you should take full advantage of it. Approaching trout
in pools takes a completely different approach that most anglers fishing the small
streams are used to. You should stick with an imitation of the nymph up until the
time the hatch starts, which is usually early to mid afternoon. When it starts, you can
switch an emerger fly pattern or dun.

This is the Hendrickson/Red Quill nymph but the picture appears darker than the
nymphs really are. They are a dark brown color. The males have a mahogany or
red tint. The thorax and wing pad can be almost a black/brown but the majority is
just brown. The legs and tails are speckled or mottled dark brown and light brown.
Natural Partridge, which alternates in color, imitates the legs and tail well.
























This is the
"Perfect Fly" Hendrickson/Red Quill Nymph. It matches both the male and
female nymphs very well. As mentioned above, the legs and tails are closely
matched with the Partridge. The body is a goose quill, the wing cap mottled turkey
feather, abdomen is dubbing and the gills are imitated with two EMU features. They
are extremely light and move up parallel the body in the water to move freely like the
real gills of a crawler nymph.



























2011 James Marsh