Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Blue-winged Ollives (Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4. Blue Quills
5. Quill Gordons
6. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
7. Little Brown Stoneflies
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
"K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series - Little Black Caddisflies - Part 1
A Very Underrated Hatch
The "Little Black Caddisfly" hatch is better known by it's western name, the "Mothers Day Hatch".
These caddisflies normally hatch around Mothers Day in most of the nation's streams. In many
areas of the country they hatch when the season is closed. In the Smokies, they hatch much
earlier in the year, and due to the extremely warm Winter this particular year, much earlier than
normal. These caddisflies are also called American Grannoms. Various species of them exist in
trout streams throughout the nation.
The Brachyentridae family of caddisflies, is called the “Short Horned Caddisflies”. The family of
Short Horned caddisflies includes the Brachycentrus genus. The "Little Black Caddisfly" we have
in the Smokies is the Brachycentrus occidentalis, just in case you care to know the scientific
name of the insect. If you look at the image of the adult shown below, you will notice the relatively
short horns or antennae on the head of the caddisfly. There's another species, the
Brachycentrus americanus, that hatches later on in the year but it's usually not very intense.
They are other species that are present in good quantities in other areas of the nation.
I think the main reason for the lack of importance placed on this insect in the Smokies is the fact
that they usually start hatching when the water reaches near 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This just
happens to be about the same time the Quill Gordon and Blue Quill mayflies hatch. Since far less
is known about caddisflies than mayflies, the Little Black Caddis hatch is largely ignored. Those
that do fish the hatch, fish it using a fly that imitates the adult. That brings little success
simply because the trout mostly eat the emerging pupae rather than the adults. The
adults can quickly leave the water and the pupae can't. Another reason is that In water around
fifty degrees, the trout aren't as prone to feed on the surface of the water as they are beneath
To put this in KISS terms, the few anglers I have noticed fishing this hatch, fished it
using the wrong fly. An imitation of the adult works great during the egg laying part of the hatch
that for the most part takes place a few days after the hatch, but not very good during a hatch.
During the actual hatch, an imitation of the pupa works much, much better.
If you have ever paid any attention to what's in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, you have seen the little chimney cased caddisflies. The is the larva stage of life of the
"Little Black Caddisfly". These are neat little cases made of wood. They are square but slightly
tapered towards the tail end of the larvae that they enclose. Unless your sneaky, you won't see
them with their heads stuck out like the ones in the image to your right. If you pick one of them up
from the water, they will stay hidden in the case and won't stick their heads out until they think
they are safe.
Fly patterns have been developed by anglers to imitate these caddisfly larvae. Although I'm sure
some of them are eaten by trout, I question the odds of success when using a fly that imitates
them. We have developed different Perfect Fly patterns for them but using them has produced
far less success than we anticipated. For that reason, we don't offer an imitation of the Little
Black Caddis larvae and don't think any fly that imitates them is very effective.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh