Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Eastern)
2. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
3. Cream Cahills
4. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
5. Slate Drakes
6. Little Green Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8. Inch Worm (moth larva)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - Part 52
This completes a fishing strategies article for the streams of Great Smoky Mountain National
Park article each consecutive week for an entire year. As I mentioned last week, from the first
of the year of 2012 up until very recently, the weather, stream conditions and hatches have
been very unusual and unfortunately, the articles won't serve as much purpose as I would
hoped they would for future years. I'm still undecided as to whether to continue the articles
for another year or write about something else. I will make that decision before next Tuesday.
Things have returned to a much more normal basis recently. The stream levels are close to
normal for this time of the year, the hatches have returned to a more normal schedule and
the weather is much closer to normal than it has been in quite a while.
We are very lucky. Much of the nation isn't doing as well as we are. Much of the nation is in a
drought situation and other than this general area, what isn't seems to be flooded. The
weather for the next few days is going to warmer in the North than it is here.
We sell flies nationwide and quite a few in Canada and other countries. Recently, we have
been very busy filling orders mostly for the western states and New England area. That has
changed drastically just within the last three or four days. Things have slowed down
considerably over what it has been for the last several months. I suspected the weather was
the reason but I wasn't sure why until I talked to a few anglers fishing other areas of the
A customer from Arizona that has been fishing the streams of Colorado for the last 40
straight days called yesterday to say conditions there were terrible. He fished most all of the
major streams in the state. Many of the streams are almost dry. Fishing has been shut down
on some streams due to the heat. Almost all of the snow is gone and most of the freestone
streams are trickles. The water that does exist is being used by the ranchers and farmers
and they too, are in dire shape.
He called me to check on stream conditions in Wyoming. The areas in and around
Yellowstone are in good shape but much of the rest of the Rocky Mountains aren't. Arizona
and New Mexico are just as bad. It has recently turned very hot in California and with the
exception of some of the streams flowing from the high Sierra Range, they too, are declining
in water quality. I suggested he go to the Clarke's Fork of the Yellowstone River. He wanted
to avoid the crowds near Yellowstone.
The Midwest is in even worse shape. There's a huge drought situation in most of those
states. They are saying corn is going to be sky high in the near future and that results in a
year or two of everything else increasing in price, especially meat prices. The streams in that
area of the country are in bad shape. We should be very thankful for our fishing conditions
that have been excellent for the entire year.
When there are fewer insects available for the trout to feed on, matching what is available
and most plentiful is even more important than it is during multiple hatches or in the early
part of the year when the streams are full of near grown nymphs and larvae. This is exactly
the opposite of what many novice anglers think.
In the fast water of the Smokies when there's a wide range of insects available for the trout to
eat, you can often achieve mediocre success using generic fly patterns. That isn't the case
when there's only a few grown larvae/nymphs. The trout will focus on what's most plentiful
and available at the time. The "location" that the trout will be looking for food,usually
changes during the day. That's why many of the anglers I have talked to recently are having
trouble catching decent numbers of trout. They are using generic flies and fishing in the
wrong places at the wrong times. The conditions have been excellent for a long time and
anglers should be catching good numbers of trout. This doesn't seem to be the case. Many
of the anglers that i have talked to during the past several days haven't been very
Start out in the mornings fishing a nymph or larva imitation and change to an emerger/pupa,
or a dun/adult dry fly pattern if and when you spot something hatching.
From about 6:00 PM to as late as you can legally fish, watch closely for stonefly egg laying
activity. These will mostly be Little Green stoneflies. There may be a few Yellow Summer
stones hatching but they are very sparse in most situations. Watch for mayfly egg laying
activity and spinner falls. Fishing the spinner falls can result in the fastest action and the
most fish caught in a short time span but you will have to keep checking for them well above
the streams late in the day. Otherwise, you probably won't even be aware they fall. It will
mostly consist of Cream Cahills, Eastern BWOs and maybe some Slate Drake spinners.
By fishing a nymph or dry fly, I don't mean just any nymph or any dry fly. I am referring
to nymphs and dry flies that specifically match the insects that I list below. This will
increase your odds of success over the "match anything" generic and attractor type of flies
that usually only produce mediocre success.
The thunderstorms will be washing terrestrials in the streams when they do hit a section of
the park. The high winds associated with the thunderstorms should blow some of them into
the streams. Anywhere you find water draining into the streams, I suggest you try an imitation
of an ant or beetle. If the wind is blowing at a good clip and your in a grassy area, try a
hopper. You will find that the hopper imitations work far better when the sun is
shinning on the water. Unlike what many anglers think, fishing hoppers under low light
conditions usually produces less fish. There are exceptions and brown trout is one of them.
They will take the them during very low light conditions.
Most Plentiful and Available Insects:
A few Little Yellow Summer stoneflies along with some fairly good hatches of Little Green
stoneflies will continue but only in isolated areas. Remember, they start to hatch (crawl out of
the water) very late in the day and they also deposit their eggs late in the day. Fish the
nymph imitation starting around 5 PM and switch to an adult only when you see egg laying
activity which is usually late in the day.
The Green Sedges (caddisflies) are hatching but they are usually rather sparse hatches. It's
the larva imitation of the free-living "green rock worm" that's productive anytime of the day.
That, and a few sparse cinnamon sedges, are the main reasons some anglers can catch a
few trout on a moth imitation or Green Larva of the moth. The generic flies are usually called
Green Weenies. They look very much like the Green Sedge pupae and net spinning
caddisfly pupae. Pinks work too, but they appear brown underwater to the trout.
Cream Cahills are hatching from many of the fast water areas of the streams in the middle
and higher elevations. Imitations of this mayfly can be very productive during a hatch. They
should be a top priority if you find them. Eastern Blue-winged Olives are beginning to
show up more and more. They not only include the larger size 16 Drunella species, it
includes the smaller size 18 Attenella species called Little Eastern Blue Winged Olives.
These can be imitated with the same flies as the other species of BWOs. I'm pointing out the
difference only because these are crawlers, not swimmers and there's a difference in their
habitat or the areas of water they inhibit. The hatches are rather isolated and never occur in
huge numbers. As mentioned above, when few insects are hatching, it makes them even
Which nymph/larva imitation to fish?
If you know for a fact any of the above insects hatched within the previous day or two of the
particular time you are fishing, fish the nymph or larva fly that imitates that particular species
during the mornings and continue to do so until you see it or another insect hatching. If you
don't know what has been occurring, fish a Blue-winged Olive nymph, hook size 18. This will
imitate the most plentiful and available nymphs in the streams at this time. If you find
something hatching, switch to the adult or dun stage pattern of that insect.
Late In The Day:
Up until you see a spinner fall or egg laying activity from caddisflies, fish an imitation of
the Little Green Stonefly nymph. They will start crawling across the bottom to the banks
to hatch very late in the day. They crawl out to hatch after sunset. Do this until you begin to
see them, ( or possible the Little Yellow Summer Stones) depositing their eggs and then
switch to the adult imitation. Watch for spinner falls and/or caddisfly egg laying activity.In the
middle and high elevations, Cream Cahills will be the most likely spinner fall.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh