Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Green Sedges (Caddis)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Little Sister Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
5. LIght Cahills
6. Little Short-horned Sedges
7. American March Browns
8. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies
11. Giant Black Stoneflies
12. Golden Stoneflies
13. Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
14. Inch Worms
And Finally, True Sulphurs
If you have been reading the previous articles about the Eastern Pale Evening
Duns, then you will understand this article better. You see, in the Smokies and local
tailwaters, the Eastern Pale Evening Dun is also called a Sulphur. I remember a few
years ago, a guide told me, "our Sulphurs have an orange, tannish tint to them. At
the time, I didn't know he was referring to a different mayfly than the true Sulphur.
Neither did he.
Sulphur is the common name for a Ephemerella dorothea, which are actually far
more plentiful in the East than the Ephemerella invaria, which is the Eastern Pale
Evening Dun I have been writing about lately and which is more plentiful in the
streams of the Smokies.
By the way, in the Clinch and the South Holston River tailwaters, you have both
species. That's one reason the hatch in the South Holston seems to last half the
year. Recently, I read in a blog where a local well known and very good guide
stated Pale Morning Duns were hatching in the Holston River. I hope he just made a
typo error because the Pale Morning Duns, the Ephemerella infrequens and
inermis species, don't even exist in the Eastern United States. They are, however,
very similar to the Eastern Pale Evening Dun and the Sulphur. That's the problem
with common names. They are actually completely worthless in most cases.
By now, I am certain many of you are wondering what difference it makes. That's a
fair question anyone could have. The difference isn't so much the appearance of
the mayflies, although there are differences. The Eastern Pale Evening Duns
behave very similarly but are different sizes and hatch at different times than the
Sulphur. The Sulphur is very similar to it's Western brother, the PMD. It's usually a
little easier to catch trout feeding on the EPEDs than the Sulphurs or PMDs. The
PMD could be considered the most important of all the western mayflies.
Although you will find a few Sulphurs in the streams of the Smokies, they are very
isolated. They prefer even slower water than the EPEDs and there just isn't much of
that type of water in the Smokies. Don't take this wrong. They cannot live in still
water. They must have moving water. They just cannot survive in fast water. The
Sulphurs are about a hook size smaller than the EPEDs and can vary as much as
two hook sizes.
Like the Eastern Pale Evening Duns, they can live in streams that have fast water,
but they choose the areas of the stream where the water moves slow to moderately.
This can be pools, margins of the stream near the banks, slower moving riffles,
pockets behind boulders, etc.
2011 James Marsh
In the Smokies, the true Sulphurs vary from a
hook size 16 to 18. The males are usually
closer to an 18 and the females a 16. I usually
recommend a size 16 for the Smokies.The
female EPEDs are usually closer to a 14 hook
The biggest problem you usually face is that
you often have to make a fairly long cast to get
the fly in the area of slower, calmer water they
are hatching in without spooking them. Doing
that usually puts your fly line over faster water
which will cause instant drag. It creates some
pretty tough presentation challenges.