Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
2. Giant Black Stoneflies
3. Light Cahills
4. Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams)
5. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
6. Little Short-horned Sedges
7. American March Browns
9. Green Sedges
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies
11. Golden Stoneflies
Most available - Other types of food:
12. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
13. Inch Worms
This Week's Featured Trout Food - Giant Black Stonefly
Species of the Pteronarcyidae family of stoneflies are called Giant Stoneflies. The ones that are found in the
streams of the park are Pteronarcys dorsata species, often called the "Giant Blacks". The nymph is more
important than the adult but trout can be taken on imitations of both stages of life. They are clinger nymphs
that live for three years. They prefer moderate to fast currents.
The “Giant" stoneflies emerge at dust and continue well into the evening. The wings of the dorsata, the most
common species, are brown and the body is usually a dark brown, almost black color. These huge stoneflies
range in size from a 4 to a 6 hook size when fully grown
The nymph of the “Giant Stonefly” is by far the most important stage of life. You will rarely see these
stoneflies depositing their eggs because they usually do so during the night. Imitating the egg-laying event is
usually only effective if you fish after dark. This is not very feasible on a fast moving mountain freestone
stream. The trout get use to eating them at night and an imitation of the adult fished early in the morning or
late in the afternoon or early evening will often work.
The nymphs are predators and actively crawl over the bottom in search of prey that is usually smaller
aquatic insects. They are most active at night but imitations can be effective fished late and early in the day
as well as during heavy cloud cover. They are most effective if they are fished during or just prior to the
About the only clue you will have that the Giant Stoneflies are hatching is finding a shuck or empty skin of
the nymph left to dry when one of the large stoneflies changed from a nymph to an adult or fully grown fly.
When you start seeing shucks on the rocks and banks of the stream you can be assured the Giants have
started to hatch. Unless you search the high limbs of trees or search the sky early in the mornings or near
dark, it is rare you will spot an adult.
The nymphs stay down between and under rocks most of the time. They do come out to eat and to hatch, of
course. There are two basic ways to fish imitations of the nymph as far as I am concerned. One is the "high
stickin" method. It works in fast water runs and riffles. In case you are not familiar, you stand perpendicular to
a run just beyond a rods length from it. This works best when the water in the run is at least two or three feet
deep. Approach the run very carefully to avoid alerting the trout of your presence. Make an up and across
very short cast. You only need two to six feet of line out the tip of your rod and a eight or nine foot leader. In
this case, I would recommend a 4X or even larger 3X or 2X leader. You want to weight the tippet about eight
inches above the fly with enough weight to get it down on the bottom fast. This will vary with the depth of the
water and the speed of the current. Swing the rod downstream directly above the fly keeping the fly on or
very near the bottom. Straighten your rod arm and keep it high. If the fly stops, or you feel a "live" thump, set
the hook. When the fly is downstream of your position, make another cast. To cover new water, you can cast
a little farther over in the run or you can move upstream a step before making the next cast.
The other method I use is intended to imitate the nymphs migrating to the banks to hatch. When enough of
these nymphs start moving to the banks to hatch, the trout will begin to intercept them close to the banks.
Use this method during the hatch in low light situations either very early in the mornings or late in the day.
Stand on the bank a few feet from the water so that you will not spook any trout near the bank. Cast up and
across the stream. Use a heavily weighted fly and keep it on the bottom. Bring the fly back to the bank using
continuous short two to three inch retrieves. Use the fingers of your non-rod hand to make the short
retrieves. Bring the fly all the way to the bank even if the fly is almost directly downstream from your position.
Follow the drift of the fly downstream with your rod. You want have any problem detecting the bite. This only
works where the banks are clear enough of trees and other obstructions to do this. You will need to be
creative in bringing the fly towards the banks in other situations. By the way, both of these methods are very
effective for catching large brown trout.
Provided you have found shucks indicating a hatch is underway, when it gets near dark, you want to try
fishing the adult imitations. If it happens to be cloudy or if the skies are heavily overcast, you may want to
start fishing the adult earlier in the day as much as a couple of hours before it is completely dark.
There is nothing wrong with fishing the imitation on into the night in some places but doing so in the
freestone streams of the park with fast water or where these stoneflies normally exist can be dangerous and
inside the part, it is illegal.
New Schedule of Daily
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
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout
More Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us with the dates you will be
fishing the park and we will send
you a list of our fly suggestions.
Please allow up to 24 hours for a
2. Call us at 800-594-4726 and we
will help you decide which flies you
3. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
Shipping is free in the U. S. for all
orders of any size. Orders over $50
are shipped free via Priority Mail.
The top image is a Giant Black adult stonefly. The
next one down is the Perfect Fly Giant Stonefly
Nymph. The next one is the underside of the
Perfect Fly Giant Stonefly Adult and the bottom is
the top of the same fly.