Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Blue-winged Ollives and Little BWOs
3. Blue Quills
4. Quill Gordons
5. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
6. Little Brown Stoneflies
7. Hendricksons & Red Quills
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. American March Browns
9. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
"K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series - American March Brown - Part 5
If you have kelp up with the American March Brown articles, you know that these
mayflies hatch over a long period of time each Spring and that they don't hatch in any
one short time span of the day. In the Smokies, they randomly hatch a very few at a
time for much of the day. It makes it difficult to determine when the hatch is underway.
The big advantage of the spinner fall is that it concentrates the mayflies available for
the trout to eat into a short time span. The spinner fall is usually the best part of the
hatch. The mayflies that have hatched over a long period of time during the day end up
on the water in just a few minutes. The only disadvantage to the spinner fall is that it
usually takes place in a very short time very late in the day.
If it's a bright, clear day, the spinner fall will most likely occur just prior to dark. If it's a
cloudy, rainy or overcast day, the spinner fall may occur much earlier in the day,
usually in the late afternoon no more than a couple of hours before dart. On either type
of day, most of the time when the spinners do fall, the light is so low you can barely see
the flies in the air or on the water, even though they are large mayflies. If you don't
keep looking up in the air above your head, you want see them in the air. If you don't
pay very close attention to the surface of the water, you won't see them on the water.
The best way to detect the spinner fall, as well as most other species, is to use a small
skim net and test the surface of the water. Even thought the spinner fall occurs in a
short time, sometimes lasting only about thirty minutes, the trout will continue to eat
them long after they fall into the water.
The trout usually won't feed on them in the fast water where the females deposit their
eggs, fall spent and die. They usually congregate below the fast water in current
seams at the ends of long runs and riffles, the heads of pools and other places where
the current congregates the spinners. Since the spent spinners can't escape them, this
allows the trout to remain in one area and sip the spinners off the surface of the water.
Presentation of the spinner imitation depends entirely on the location of the trout that
are feeding on them. In the low light situations when the spinners are on the water it is
not only next to impossible to see the spinners, it is also difficult to see the trout feeding
on them. They don't make a splashy rise. They leave only a small rise ring when they
sip the spinners. Unless the remaining sunlight is hitting the water just right, you may
never notice either the spinners on the water or the trout eating them.
Not only is it fairly difficult to see the spinners or the trout eating them, it is difficult to
see a good imitation of the spinner. The wings of our Perfect Fly American March
Brown Spinner fly turn almost translucent. They are made of white hen feathers and
when wet, floating flush with the surface of the water, they aren't very visible from above
to an angler looking down on them in the low light condition.
You must keep close tract of where your fly is by watching the end of your fly line. It's
best to concentrate on the presentation watching the end of your fly line. If you pay
attention to where the fly is in relation to the end of your fly line, you should be able to
track your spinner imitation well enough to detect the strikes. In other words, even
though you can't see the fly, you know where it is close enough to detect the takes.
If you loose track of the fly, and you don't think it is near trout eating the spinners, you
can make the fly move by slightly raising the tip of your fly rod. The purpose of this is to
deliberately create drag for a second or two. In smooth water, you can easily spot the
surface disturbance the fly makes. To avoid spooking the trout, just make certain you
attempt this trick before the fly gets into the productive strike zone or area where you
think the trout may be holding.
There is nothing wrong with using another higher floating, more visible fly located a two
or three feet ahead of the spinner fly to serve as an indicator. That will help you detect
If the spinner fall is fairly heavy and you get in the right position in the stream (or on the
bank) just before the spinners start falling, you stand an excellent chance of catching
several trout in a very short time. On several occasions, Angie and I have discovered
the March Brown spinners mixed in with the Red Quill and Hendrickson spinners.
Because the hatch last so long you may find that spinners of the Pale Evening Duns,
Sulfers, Light and Cream Cahills and other mayflies mixed in with the American March
Brown spinners. In the low light, the mixture of spinners makes catching trout even
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Thumbnail: Click to Enlarge
All Images are thumbnails: Click to Enlarge
The "Perfect Fly" American March
Brown Spinner. The abdomen is made
from a goose biot and the thorax is
dubbing. The legs are made of soft
hackle. The wings are hen neck
feathers. The split tails are made of
nylon. The wing case is made from a
The image on your left shows the American
March Brown changing from a dun to a
spinner. The transformation is almost
finished with the shuck of the dun still stuck
on the tail of the spinner. Don't confuse this
molting of the spinner with the nymph
changing to a dun. That probably happened
a day or so earlier. This is how the dun
becomes a spinner. The mayfly becomes a
little slimmer with longer legs and tails. It's
wings lose their color and become almost
clear but the dark blotches remain.