Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Eastern)
2. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (Mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Cream Cahills
5. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
7. Slate Drakes
8. Little Green Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
10. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
11. Inch Worm (moth larva)
Fly Selection and Presentation - Continued
(This is a re-run from a previous article)
Most of the time a dun that hatches from the water is only floating on the surface for a few
seconds. Depending on how fast the current is, the trout usually only have a split second to
get a glimpse of the dun, or your fly that is suppose to imitate a dun. If the water is clear, a
trout can see a nymph from several feet away, although not in clear focus. If the nymph is
relatively close to the trout, the trout can see it in focus and in great detail. Their vision of an
object underwater that is close, say within a foot of the trout, is generally better than a our
own vision. By the way, they can also see almost all the way around themselves, both
horizontally and vertically.
Now back to the doctor, I asked next, which fly he thought should more closely imitate the
real insect - a fly imitating the nymph or a dun? Realizing where I was taking the
conversation, he quickly responded with the correct answer - the nymph. He then said, "I
have never thought about it that way".
If that's correct, then why do almost anglers pay close attention to their dun
imitations or dry flies, and very little attention to their imitations of nymphs? They
tend to think just any nymph is fine. They are quick to say a Hare's Ear Nymphs imitates
them all well, even though a Blue-winged Olive nymphs looks as much like a Slate Drake
Nymphs as a Billy Goat looks like a Monkey. Facts are, the nymphs vary in appearance and
behavior as much or more than the duns, or in the case of stoneflies and caddisflies, more
than the adults. When it comes to dry fly imitations, most anglers want a selection of dozens
if not hundreds. They will discuss the details of the wing construction of their duns for hours,
yet they act as if the appearance of their nymph isn't important.
The typical Smoky Mountain anglers will purchase or strive to tie as close of an imitation of a
Quill Gordon dun as possible, but if they attempt to imitate a Quill Gordon nymph, just any
old nymph seems to be just fine with them.
They may get rather picky when selecting an imitation of a Yellow Sally adult stonefly but
imitate the nymph with any nymph they can find in their fly box. In fact, most would select a
yellow nymph even though Yellow Sally nymphs are brown.
When it comes to the Blue Quill, for example, they want a dry fly that's fairly close to the real
thing, yet most anglers don't have any idea what a Blue Quill Nymph looks like. Why are
there dozens of commercially available "Blue Quill" dry flies, but not one "Blue Quill nymph"?
Why do fly shops have Light Cahill dry flies but not the first "Light Cahill Nymph? Why do fly
shops have Elk Hair Caddisflies in all colors but often not the first Caddis larvae or pupa
imitation, even though the trout probably eat hundreds of pupa and larva for every adult they
eat. Even though the pupa of a Great Autumn Brown Sedge resembles the pupa of a
Cinnamon Caddis about as much as a buffalo resembles a mule, at best, a typical fly shop
may have only one or two generic flies that imitate caddis pupae. Every fly shop in the
Eastern U. S. have Light Hendrickson and Dark Hendrickson dry flies, but not the first
imitation of a Hendrickson nymph.
Most all the fly shops in the West carry several versions of Green Drake Duns, but not the
first imitation of the Green Drake Nymph. It's the same thing with their PMDs, or Pale Morning
Duns. If you go in a fly shop and ask for a PMD nymph be sure to notice the funny look you
get from the fly shop salesman.
I haven't answered the question for you yet as to why anglers pay lots of attention to their
dun imitations and little attention to their nymphs. I think it's because of one simply reason.
Most anglers don't think in terms of what the trout can and cannot see, or what the trout may
be eating. They think in terms of what's appealing to them. They commonly make comments
like, "isn't that a pretty fly, or doesn't he tie beautiful flies"?
A close friend of mine of over forty years, Tom Mann, who designed lures of which over a
billion (really, I'm not kidding) have been sold during his lifetime, told me years ago that the
top selling fishing lures were designed to appeal to the fishermen more than the fish. "If you
want to sell lures, design them to impress anglers, not the fish", he used to say.
I have know that about fishing lures for years and it didn't take me very long to
determine that most trout flies were created for anglers, not the trout. That's one of
the reasons we spent hundreds of days over a span of several years, capturing,
photographing, and video taping every important insect and other trout foods that exist
nationwide. We wanted our instructional videos to show anglers what the fish ate and that
eventually resulted in our developing our Perfect Flies that imitate their appearance and
behavior as closely as we possible could
We don't care if our flies are pretty or ugly. We want them to look and act like the real things
the trout are use to seeing and eating day in and day out. You may can fool them with a
kinda, sorta, looking fly a certain percentage of the time, but the more your fly looks and acts
like the real things, the higher your odds of fooling the trout. Even in the fast pocket water
common in the Smokies, it can make a substantial difference. In the marginal slower,
smoother flowing water of the streams edges, pockets and pools, it can sometimes make all
the difference in catching trout or not catching trout.
If you are completely satisfied with just being out in the great outdoors and watching the
water, not really caring what you catch, then none of this matters. If you think everything is
based on luck, none of this matters. Catching a few trout using generic and attractor flies
can be very deceptive. It can cause anglers to think they are doing things as well as it can be
done when that isn't the situation at all.
If you are satisfied in being a mediocre angler, thinking your success is a product of "the
fishing is good or the fishing is bad" theory, rather than your fishing is good or your fishing
is bad, then none of this matters. On the other hand, if you want to be successful at being
able to consistently catch trout, then understanding how trout see your flies and the
importance of how well your flies imitate the appearance and behavior of the natural food
they eat should be very important to you.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh