Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. Slate Drakes
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Summer Stones)
3. Needle Stoneflies
4. Mahogany Duns
5. Little Yellow Quills
Most available - Other types of food:
6. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
7. Inch Worms
This Week's Featured Trout Food - Needle Stoneflies
Needle Stoneflies are very plentiful in the middle and the higher elevations in the park.
They are also found to some extent in the lower elevations but not in large quantities
like the middle and upper elevations. It is another one of those insects that has never
appeared in any of the three or four books written on fly fishing the Smokies. They are
small stoneflies averaging a hook size 16.
Needle Stoneflies are species of this Leuctridae family of stoneflies. They are fairly
easy to identify as adults because their wings roll around their bodies. This gives them
a “needle-like” appearance. They are very small, slim, dark stoneflies that look much
like caddisflies when they are flying. Trout eat the nymphs and adults. These
stoneflies are usually called “Needle Flies” and sometimes “Black Roll Wing Stoneflies”.
These stoneflies are often confused with caddisflies. In fact it is very difficult to tell
them from caddisflies without catching one. When you do you will see the difference
very quickly. It is just the way they fly, especially when the females are depositing their
eggs, that makes them look like larger caddisflies depositing their eggs.
Emergence is somewhat variable. We show them on our hatch charts hatching from
mid August all the way through the first week of December depending on the stream.
September and October usually are the two main months these stoneflies hatch.
There are a lot of species, all of which look very similar. They are easy to distinguish
from other stoneflies because of their long, slim bodies.
The nymphs of the Needle Stoneflies are small nymphs that stay hidden down under
and between the small rocks on the bottom. The way we have found them is to simply
rake up a inch deep section of bottom sand and gravel and put it in a white pan. Using
a process kind of like panning gold, is how we first found the nymphs.
I am not sure how many of the nymphs are eaten by trout. I do know they are
very plentiful in the small, high elevation streams and my guess is the trout eat a lot of
them. Except to feed, they probably stay out of reach of the trout most of the time. You
will also find them just about everywhere there is fast water, even in the middle and
lower elevations. They hatch in the riffles but I have seen them coming off at the tail
ends of pools and the heads of pools where the water flows into the pools from riffles
We fish the nymph without an indicator by placing weight about six inches above the
fly. The idea is to keep it on the bottom. I usually fish in an up and across manner and
allow the fly to swing around in the current to the down and across position. You may
try a strike indicator if you feel uncomfortable fishing by watching your line and leader.
I just use the end of the fly line as a strike indicator and watch for it to stop, jump or act
unnatural with the current.
The adults deposit their eggs during the day usually in the afternoons and probably
during the evenings. Fishing an imitation of the eggs layers is almost like fishing a
mayfly dun or spinner. You can use a larger imitation than the adults because they are
always fluttering just above the surface and actually touch the surface with their wings
There is an amazing difference in the way these stoneflies look flying than they do
when they are not flying. Flying, they look much larger than they actually are. We
suspect many anglers think these stoneflies are caddisflies and a caddisfly imitation
may work for the ovipositing females to some extent.
Even though these are sometimes called "Black Rolled Winged Stoneflies", they are
mostly dark brown. We have been able to catch trout imitating the egg layers every
time we have tried. It is common to see trout eating them on the surface in the fall
months. It seems most of the activity is in the high elevation streams although you will
find them everywhere there is fast water.
You want to present the adult imitation where you see the adults depositing their eggs.
They do that in the same type of water they hatch in. I vary the presentation
depending on the circumstances. The important thing is just to get the fly where the
action is. I do use a dead drift. If you try to add action to the fly, you may just scare the
trout. The real adults do all their fluttering maneuvers above the water, not on the
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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