09/23/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives (Little BWOs)
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Quills (
Heptagenia Group)
4.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Slate Drakes
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8.    Grasshoppers
9.    Ants (includes Flying Ants)
10.  Beetles
11.  Craneflies
12.  Great Brown Autumn Sedge

More On Strategy Of Where And How To Fish
I provide a strategy guide each week as to what flies to fish but I usually don't go into
detail as to how those flies may need to vary depending on the particular species you
are targeting. The thought occurred to me this week when a customer sent an email
asking if he should fish a Slate Drake fly when fishing the high elevation streams for
brook trout. In reviewing my article, I discovered I only mentioned that the Slate Drake
hatch intensity should increase and peak in October, and that if you begin to see
some duns you should try fishing the nymph and/or spinner late in the day. I can't
possible cover every detail, and sometimes those I may not cover can be important.

The answer I gave the gentlemen is no, he shouldn't be concerned with Slate Drakes
in the small, high elevation brook trout streams. There's few of them there because
they are mostly swimming nymphs that prefer a different habitat. They are found
mostly in the lower and mid elevations. Of course, I did write about the Slate Drake
specifically about a month ago giving all the details about the hatch.

I discovered he also read a fishing report from a local fly shop that advised that Slate
Drakes were showing up on the streams. They have been for two or three months
now, but they are hatching more frequently than they have for the past month or so.
They advised their readers to use a Parachute Adams to imitate the Slate Drake.
That's about the dumbest and worst advise I think I've ever read. Worse, it
came from someone you would think should have a clue about one of the most
common mayflies in the streams of the Smokies.

Slate Drakes don't hatch in the water. There's no need to imitate a Slate Drake dun. I
guess you could cast the fly to land on a rock or the bank, and wait for a trout to jump
out of the water to get it, but that would be about the only way you would catch a trout
focused on eating Slate Drake duns.  Slate Drake duns don't get into the water after
they hatch. Only the spinners do. Anther nutty thing about the advise is that a
Parachute Adams looks about as much like a Slate Drake Spinner as a commercial
airliner looks like a school bus. They aren't close to the same configuration (the size
should be 10 or 12) and the color is completely different. Slate Drakes are reddish
brown. Adams are gray and imitate a dun, not a spinner.

The other thing my strategy - what fly to use - articles don't usually get into is the
species of fish you may be targeting. Different flies work differently depending on the
species. Just to get the point across, you wouldn't want to target large brown trout with
a Mahogany Dun dry fly, even if they were hatching. You wouldn't won't to fish a
streamer early in the morning for brook trout. Although you would probably catch
some using a smaller size streamer, you could make a better fly selection at this time
of the year.

I'm just trying to point out that I can't possible cover every detail. You should become
familiar with all the insects in the streams because it's the food the trout eat that you
should be imitating in order to catch them. Some anglers lose sight of this.  

You should also become familiar with the difference in species of trout. Just one basic
example is that brown trout over ten to twelve inches long stay hidden under rocks,
banks, etc during clear, bright days. They avoid the sun and feed under low light
conditions. That's because when they get larger, they eat other fish. They rely on the
element of surprise to catch their food.

On the other hand, rainbow trout will feed actively right out in the middle of a stream
directly in the bright sunlight. Although the insects they feed on usually hatch much
better during cloudy conditions, they will sometimes feed on terrestrials better in the
sunshine than the shade. This is something many novice anglers are not aware of.
There's a big difference in brown trout and rainbows when it comes to how light
affects their feeding behavior. I only touched on the subject. There's far more to the
effects of light.

Just keep in mind that the articles I will be doing each week on fly selection can't
possibly cover everything there is to know.
It isn't a cut and dry solution to the
challenge of consistently catching trout.
It also leaves out an equally important
subject in its entirety and that's presentation of the fly. You should research my
previous articles on this site and our Perfect Fly site for the specific presentation
methods that work best for the particular insects the flies I suggest imitates. Doing so,
as well as practicing the presentations on the water, will greatly improve you catch
ratio and make you a much better angler.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh