Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little and baetis BWOs)
2. Little Yellow Quills
3. Slate Drakes
4. Needle Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
5. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - Part 2
The streams got a little high yesterday but very quickly fell down to good levels for wading.
Yesterday's article covered the weather forecast and the bottom line to stream and weather
conditions is that I don't know how it could possibly be any better for this time of the year.
As I have been doing this second year of strategy articles, I am posting last year's article for near
this same date for comparison.
Last Year's Strategy Article:
Remember: The key is to imitate the insects and or other food that's most
available and easiest for the trout to acquire. If you haven't read the first parts of this
series, please do so. It will help make this article more meaningful.
This is a continuation of the strategies you should use for fly fishing the streams of
the Smokies. Yesterday's article dealt primarily with pre-spawn brown trout. As
mentioned, hatches of Blue-winged Olives, Slate Drakes, Little Yellow Quills, Needle
Stoneflies and fall caddis - Great Brown Autumn Sedges should increase prior to the
front passing. However, because a high pressure system will take over from Friday
through this weekend, there will be fewer numbers of them hatching at that time. The
warm air preceding the passage of the cold front will continue to prevail until Friday
and this will increase the intensity of the hatches. The front will pass tomorrow night
and conditions will change to high pressure. This will be great for the tourist but not so
great for the anglers and hatching insects.
Notice I have reduced the numbers of insects by the eliminating the Mahogany Duns
and Little Yellow Stoneflies. For all practical purposes, the terrestrial insects will also
play a much lesser role than they have been, especially after the front passes.
Something I often fail to mention is that the Little Needle Stoneflies and Little Yellow
Quills are generally found mostly in the smaller streams , in the mid to high elevations.
The Slate Drake Drakes and Great Brown Autumn Sedges are mostly found in the larger,
lower to mid elevation streams. The Blue-winged Olives are found in all the streams but
are more concentrated in the lower to mid elevations.
You should go back and review the details of fishing these hatches in case your not
familiar with them. There's far more to it than just tying on the right fly. Making sure
you fish at the right time and putting the fly in exactly the right place in the stream is
more important than anything.
As I have been writing for the last three or four weeks, the most available insects in
the water at this time of the year will be the various species (there have been as many
as four different ones) of mayflies called Blue-winged Olives. Again, for the highest
odds of success, you should use an imitation of the BWO nymph and change to a dry
fly when you observe something hatching. At this time of the year, there's more BWO
nymphs in the water than any other grown nymph or larvae. That's what the trout see
the most of and that's what you need to imitate.
The larger size #16 & #18 baetis should begin to hatch at any time after the approaching
cold front moves through on Thursday night and the temperature drops.. The water
temperature should be at the highest in the mid fifties for this to happen. That should
be the case this weekend. Although there will be only be a few of them hatching, that
further concentrates the trout's attention. As mentioned several times, unlike what
many anglers tend to think, the fewer numbers of insects that hatch, the more
the fly should imitate those specific insects. The reason is simple. Generic flies
don't imitate any particular insect. They work the best they will ever work when the
trout are seeing lots of different insects. When there's only a few insects, the more
your fly should act and look like the real ones. Of course, your always better off using
specific imitations anytime and anywhere, but you do need to know what's most
plentiful and most available. If you don't, your playing a guessing game and strictly
relying on trial and error. In other words, instead of knowing what your doing,
your relying on luck.
Strategy for the coming week:
Notice that I have eliminated the Mahogany Duns and the Little Yellow Stoneflies. They have
reached the end of their hatch periods. The overall list of most plentiful and most available food
continues to get smaller. With the exception of the two and three year old stoneflies, most of the
mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies are tiny nymphs/larvae or eggs. Although there's probably still
some ants, hoppers and beetles around, they continue to become less and less available for the
Contrary to some opinions, this doesn't mean that the trout will eat any and everything
they see. It doesn't mean they don't have enough food to eat. It doesn't mean that the fly
isn't as important as it was when there was more food available. It doesn't mean any of
It means the fly you choose to use is even more important because the foods the trout
are seeing and eating on a regular basis has been reduced to a fewer number of items.
It also means they will be located in the sections of the streams where this food is most
available, not just any and everywhere.
Keep in mind that the Little Yellow Quills and Needle Stoneflies are located mostly in the upper
middle to higher elevations. The Slate Drakes (Isonychia bicolor) are mostly located in the middle
and lower elevations. The Blue-winged Olives (of varying species) are located throughout the
elevations but more so in the middle and lower elevations.
Regarding BWOs, keep in mind that the baetis should start hatching any time with the cooler
weather and there are three different species of them that can hatch as well as some more species
of Little BWOs. The baetis species vary in hook sizes from 18 to as large as a 16 depending on the
species and sex of the mayfly.
Unless you see something hatching, start using a hook size 20 or18 BWO nymph. Fish it until you
see something hatching. Depending on the elevation you are fishing, this may be BWOs and later
in the day, Slate Drakes. In the higher elevations this could be the Needle Stoneflies which also
hatch late in the day. All but the BWOs crawl out of the water to hatch.
If you see the BWOs hatching, switch to an emerger or dun BWO. Later in the day, if you see any
Slate Drake nymphs along the edges of the water or lots of shucks on the rocks, fish an imitation of
the nymph. In the mid to higher elevations, if you see the Little Yellow Quills hatching, switch to an
emerger or dun imitation of htem. Switch to an imitation the Needlefly nymph if you see them. Very
late in the day you may begin to see Slate Drake spinners or Needleflies laying eggs. If so, switch
to a spinner/adult imitation respectively.
Almost everyday I read or hear anglers write or say "I threw everything in my fly box at them
and still didn't get any action".
I say, excuse me, but have you ever thought about the fact that may just be your main
problem. It instantly tells me they don't have a clue as to what they are doing. It also tells me they
are relying purely on trial and error and pure luck.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh