Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
3. Little Winter Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
4. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing School - A Nymph or a Larvae?
When I first started fly fishing for trout, I noticed most fly shops categorized trout flies into three basic types -
dries, nymphs and streamers. A very few (the only ones that actually knew much about what they were selling
imitated) separated flies that imitated nymphs and larva into separate categories and fly bins.
The first time I asked an experienced trout fisherman, why most fly shops didn't sell imitations of larvae, the
answer I received was that fly shops classified flies that imitated larvae as nymphs. They explained that I
could find a few imitations of caddisfly larvae under the nymph bins in some fly shops, but most of them didn't
have any flies that imitated caddisfly larvae. .
Understand, I had a bad habit. For twenty years prior to fly fishing for trout, the first thing I did when I wanted
to learn how to catch a new species of fish was to learn all about the fish and the food it ate to survive on. It
didn't take me long to figure out there was no such an insect as an "Adams".
The more I learned about aquatic insects and the flies that imitated them, the more I learned that most fly
shops didn't know what a larva even was. The first few years of fly fishing for trout, Angie and I went in at
least seventy-five different fly shops from coast to coast and 95% of them classified flies the same way. If
they had any caddisfly or midge larva flies (imitations), they put them in with their nymph section of flies. They
called them nymphs. As a matter of fact, many of the mom and pop stores still do that. With regards to
trout fishing, the word "nymph" is a stage of life of mayflies, stoneflies and a few other types of insects. It is
also loose fly shop jargon for flies that imitate nymphs. All nymphs are larvae but all larvae are not
At the same time I first begin to notice this, I also noticed some fly shops didn't classify their flies that way and
that those that didn't lump nymphs and larvae together had owners, salesmen, and in one case, a sales lady
that knew the difference in a nymph and a larva. The bottom line to what I'm saying is that most fly shop
personnel didn't really know the difference in a nymph and a larvae. A few years later, I discovered that the
people who ran the three largest companies that imported the flies sold by most all fly shops didn't know a
nymph from a larvae.
Our fly fishing DVD distributor, Angler's Book Supply of Oregon, carries over 2400 books that have been
written on fly fishing. Although there were several books written about mayflies, it was 1989 before the first
book was written about caddisflies. Never mind the fact that coast to coast, trout eat more caddisflies than
mayflies. In 1989, "Caddisflies", written by Gary LaFontaine, was published. Prior to that, caddisflies were just
briefly mentioned in some books on aquatic insects and then usually, only in their adult stage of life. - never
mind the fact far more pupae and larvae are eaten than the adults. The bottom line to what I'm writing is that
in the highly educated world of fly fishing for trout, for years anglers were ignorant of a major source of trout
food. As far as trout fishing in the Smokies is concerned, that's still the case my friends. Notice how often the
Little Black Caddis hatch is mentioned by the hot shot Smoky Mountain anglers this late winter and early
spring. If you know what your doing, you can catch more trout eating their pupae than you can imitating the
highly praised Quill Gordon mayfly. I'm not knocking the Quill Gordon hatch. I'm just saying, well, I think you
get the point.
The only problem with the book "Caddisflies", is that Gary did such a detailed and extensive job of covering
caddisflies, it was too involved to interest most anglers. During the late 1990's and early 2000's, several
other books were written about caddisflies. All of them were in a shorter, more condensed version. This all
resulted in many new fly patterns for caddisfly larvae, pupae and adults, a few of which have only recently
come on the fly shop market. As a matter of fact, "Perfect Fly" is the only company that has what you
could rightly call a full selection of flies that covers most all of the important species of
caddisflies in each stage of life that trout eat.
I have also noticed many of the fly shops have changed their fly setup over the past dozen or so years. Many
of them have added a separate section for flies that imitate larvae. This day in time, most all of the large,
online stores have their flies classified correctly. My "The Fly Shop" catalog came yesterday and it had it
right and has had it right for some time. Cabelas is another one that has their flies classified like they should
be. A few of the mom and pop fly shops have it right but most of them still call their flies that imitate larvae,
Up until the last few years, to most mom and pop fly shops, caddisflies were just brown ones, tan ones and
green ones, etc. Although fly fishing has been around for centuries, it has only been within the last twenty
years that fly anglers knew much of anything about aquatic insects.
I won't get into the caddisfly pupae and fly shops. I'll leave that for another article. The next time you walk in a
fly shop, ask them to see their caddisfly pupae imitations. You may get directed to the nearest Adult Sex
Get started fly fishing for trout the right way and call a nymph a nymph and a larva a larva. You will be
ahead of most fly shop experts from the get go.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily Articles
Mondays: Weather and Stream Conditions
Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies - Which
Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing Report
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout Food