Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
3. Little Winter Stoneflies
4. Little Brown Stoneflies
5. Quill Gordons
6. Blue Quills
7. Little Black Caddis
Most available - Other types of food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
This Week's Featured Trout Food - Quill Gordon Spinners
It has never ceased to amaze me that probably 95% of the anglers that fish during the Quill Gordon hatch in
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, leave the streams before the spinners fall. Well, it really doesn't
amaze me. I understand why they ignore it. They just don't have a clue what a spinner fall is, much less a
Quill Gordon spinner fall. Simply put, many don't even know what a mayfly spinner is. I would venture to say
that a majority of the guys that fish the Quill Gordon hatch don't know what a spinner is.
You want hear much about it from a local North Carolina or Tennessee fly shop for two reasons. One is the
fact that most of the salesmen don't know much about spinner falls either, and some of them know nothing
about it. There are those that do and some that recommend anglers fish it, but that's the exception, not the
rule. None of the fly shops have specific imitations of the Quill Gordon spinner. That's because none of the
big three wholesale companies that import flies they sell to the fly shops have imitations of it. I doubt many of
their tiers in Thailand know what a spinner is either. Most of them do sell generic "rusty" spinners, but the
"rusty" spinners sold by most fly shops are rather pitiful imitations of a Quill Gordon spinner.
I'm not trying to insult anyone. These are just facts. I've even meet guys that proclaimed to be fly fishing
guides that didn't know what a mayfly spinner was. Most anglers have heard of spinners but the word means
different things to different angler. The most common belief is that a spinner is a certain kind of fly. Of
course, there are spinner flies, but few realize that a spinner is actually a stage of the mayfly's life.
I meet a guy at West Yellowstone one night that told me about the fantastic afternoon he had fishing a
spinner hatch. When I ask if he meant spinner fall, he said no, spinner hatch. He actually thought a spinner
was a specific species of mayfly. He said he fished the spinner hatch on the Yellowstone River and had
caught trout on almost every cast. When I tried to figure out what he meant and what hatch he actually had
fished, I finally became aware that he had fished a Gray Drake spinner fall. The same man told me he had
fished Yellowstone for the past twenty years.
Maybe this will ring a bell in someones ear. Unless the Quill Gordon spinner fall occurs very, very late in the
day, or after legal park fishing hours, you can usually catch just as many trout during the Quill
Gordon spinner fall as you can during the hatch.
At any one location, a Quill Gordon hatch last from about 45 minutes on bright clear days, to about an hour
and a half on cloudy days. The spinner falls, meaning both the male spinner fall and the female spinner fall,
each occur in about 30 minutes. Sometimes, they almost overlap. The spinners only stay on the surface of
the water for a short time after they fall. Many of the males (which fall first) land on the banks but most of the
females land on the water.
We have caught trout on subsequent cast many times during a Quill Gordon spinner fall. We have caught as
many as a dozen or more trout on a Quill Gordon spinner fall many times. In other words, the action is
usually fast. Most of the time that we have done that, 95% of the anglers that fished that day had already left
I am not going to get into the details or specifics of a Quill Gordon spinner fall in this article. I have written
many previous articles on that subject and our Perfect Fly website also has plenty of information on it. I'll just
leave it at that. Maybe there's a few guys smart and interested enough to find out for themselves.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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Quill Gordon Spinners above and to
your left. Note the clear wings. Late in
the hatch, when it occurs on very warm
clear days, the spinners have been
known to fall early in the mornings but
that is rare and when it does occur, it
is usually in the North East or New
England areas. If it is cloudy, the
spinner fall can occur in the Smokies
as early as an hour before sunset but
it usually a little later than that. It
depends on the air temperature and
amount of available light.
Perfect Fly Quill Gordon Dun above and Quill Gordon
Note: The white hen wings turn almost translucent
or appear al;most clear when wet