Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives and Little BWOs
2. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (Mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Little Short Horned Sedges
5. Eastern Green Drakes (Abrams Creek)
6. Hendricksons & Red Quills
7. American March Browns
8. Giant Stoneflies
9. Light Cahills
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Yellow Sally)
11. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
Most available/ Other types of available food:
13. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
KISS A Bug Series - Giant Black Stoneflies - Part 1
Remember, all nine families of stoneflies are present in the streams of the Smokies including
the huge stoneflies call Giant Blacks. Species of the Pteronarcyidae family of stoneflies are
called Giant Stoneflies. The species that is common in the streams of Great Smoky Mountain
National Park is the Pteronarcys dorsata, often called the "Giant Black Stonefly". The nymphs
of these big stoneflies are clinger nymphs that live for three years. They prefer moderate to
fast currents and there's no shortage of that in the Smokies.
The “Giant" stoneflies start to emerge at dust and continue well into the evening. The wings of
the adult dorsata stoneflies are a dark brown and the body is usually a brown color with yellow
tints. These huge stoneflies average a hook size 6 but can be as large as a #4.
The nymph of the “Giant Stonefly” is by far the most important stage of life. You will rarely see
these mayflies depositing their eggs because they usually do so during the night. Imitating the
egg-laying event is usually only effective if you fish after dark. This is not very feasible on a
fast moving mountain freestone stream and not legal to do so in the park.
The nymphs are predators and actively crawl over the bottom in search of prey that's usually
smaller aquatic insects. They can get washed into the current and drift along the bottom but I
would guess that would be a rare occasion. They are most active at night but imitations can be
effective fished late and early in the day as well as during heavy cloud cover. They are most
effective if they are fished during or just prior to the hatch.
By the way, other than just the color, it's not very difficult to tell a Giant Stonefly nymph from a
Golden Stonefly nymph. The nymphs of the Giant Stoneflies have branched gills (gills that look
like small branches of a bush) present on the thorax and the underside of the first 2 or 3
abdominal segments. The branched gills are only present on the sides of the thorax and never
on the abdominal segments of a Golden Stonefly.
About the only clue you will have that the Giant Stoneflies are hatching is finding a shuck or
empty skin of the nymph left to dry when one of the large stoneflies changed from a nymph to
an adult or fully grown fly. When you start seeing shucks on the rocks and banks of the stream
you can be assured the Giants have started to hatch. Unless you search the high limbs of
trees or search the sky early in the mornings or near dark, it is rare you will spot an adult.
These nymphs stay down between and under rocks most of the time. Of course, they do come
out to eat and to hatch. One interesting thing about them is that they are available in three
different sizes at any one time. They live for three years. That means there are one year old
nymphs available, two year old ones and three year old ones that are available for the trout to
There are two basic ways to fish imitations of the nymph:
High Sticking; One is the "high sticking" method. It works in fast water runs and riffles. In case
you are not familiar, you stand perpendicular to a run just beyond a rods length from it. This
works best when the water in the run is at least two or three feet deep. Approach the run very
carefully to avoid alerting the trout of your presence. Make an up and across very short cast.
You only need two to six feet of line out the tip of your rod and a eight or nine foot leader. In
this case, I would recommend a 4X or even larger 3X or 2X leader.
You want to weight the tippet about eight inches above the fly with enough weight to get it
down on the bottom fast. This will vary with the depth of the water and the speed of the
current. Swing the rod downstream directly above the fly keeping the fly on or very near the
bottom. Straighten your rod arm and keep it high. If the fly stops, or you feel a "live" thump, set
the hook. When the fly is downstream of your position, make another cast. To cover new
water, you can cast a little farther over in the run or you can move upstream a step before
making the next cast.
Short Line Casting:
The other method I use is intended to imitate the nymphs migrating to the banks to hatch.
When enough of these nymphs start moving to the banks to hatch, the trout will begin to
intercept them close to the banks. Use this method during the hatch in low light situations
either very early in the mornings or late in the day.
Stand on the bank a few feet from the water so that you will not spook any trout near the bank.
Cast up and across the stream. Use a heavily weighted fly and keep it on the bottom. Bring the
fly back to the bank using continuous short two to three inch retrieves. Use the fingers of your
non-rod hand to make the short retrieves. Bring the fly all the way to the bank even if the fly is
almost directly downstream from your position. Follow the drift of the fly downstream with your
rod. You want have any problem detecting the bite. This only works where the banks are clear
enough of trees and other obstructions to do this. You will need to be creative in bringing the
fly towards the banks in other situations. By the way, both of these methods are very effective
for catching large brown trout.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
"Perfect Fly" Giant Black Stonefly Nymph
The Real Deal Giant Black Stonefly Nymph