Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. Slate Drakes
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies
3. Needle Stoneflies
4. Mahogany Duns
5. Little Yellow Quills
6. Great Autumn Brown Sedges
7. Blue-winged Olives
Most available - Other types of food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Specific Imitations Versus Generic & Attractor Trout Flies
When there's no hatch occurring, which is about 98% of the time, anglers tend to
think they are better off using an attractor or generic trout fly as opposed to a fly
that's intended to be a specific imitation of an insect or other trout food. The generic
and attractor types of trout flies represents the great majority of trout flies that are
available from fly shops. Although that's the general approach used by many anglers,
it is actually a very poor one.
A fly that imitates no specific insect, rather a variety of them works best when
environmental conditions (water temp, oxygen, stream levels, etc) are near perfect
and lots of insects are readily available for the trout to eat. In other words, when
anyone that can cast a Royal Humphy twenty feet upstream in a run can catch trout.
During those times when you can hit the trout over the head with the fly line and they
still will eat the fly, a Royal Wulff usually works pretty good. In fact, when there's
little challenge in catching trout, most anything made of feathers and hair
with a hook in it will often produce decent results.
One reason this big misconception came about is because book after book about
trout fishing lumped things into one of only two categories - selective feeding or
opportunistic feeding. Quite frankly, other than actually knowing much about what
they were writing about, many authors of fly fishing publications just copied other
authors. It caused most anglers to think that trout are feeding either one way or the
other. In streams with fast pocket water, like the streams of the Smokies, this
misconception has caused most anglers as well as those that teach fly fishing to think
that if trout are not feeding exclusively on one insect, they are feeding
opportunistically. By strict definition, that would be correct. In other words, this
caused many to assume that if trout feed opportunistically, it isn't that important what
you imitate or what fly you use.
Most fly shop salesmen and fly fishing guides are quick to tell anglers that trout feed
opportunistically. Most likely, it's the biggest word they know. Few of them know one
mayfly from another and some can't recognize a mayfly from a caddisfly. You won't
ever hear anyone with a good knowledge of the food trout rely on to survive
preaching the particular fly you use isn't important. Saying that trout feed
opportunistically is fine as far as technically categorizing their feeding habits is
concerned, but it has little to do with what is really takes place, and it is of
absolutely no importance when it comes to catching trout.
For example, lets suppose that there are lots of Little Yellow Stonefly nymphs
crawling to the banks to hatch. When that happens, don’t think the trout don’t know it.
They view their underwater world 24 hours a day and they know and see exactly what
is going on. Since these nymphs crawl across the bottom to get to the banks, they
are easy prey for the trout. Naturally, the trout will focus on feeding on the easy prey;
however, if the trout are eating these nymphs migrating to the banks and a stray
mayfly nymph happened to come along, the trout may or may not eat it. If the trout
doesn't have to go out of its way to eat the mayfly nymph, it may well eat it. Common
sense tells me that If it takes more effort for the trout to catch the mayfly nymph than
the stonefly nymphs crawling to the bank, the they wouldn't go to the extra trouble to
Lets suppose the mayfly nymph almost hit the trout in the nose and it did eat it. By
strict definition you would have to categorize the trout as feeding opportunistically.
That's why marine fishery biologist classifies all trout as opportunistically feeders.
It makes sense from a scientific standpoint but little sense from a practical
standpoint of catching fish. A particular trout may be feeding selectively at the
same time another one a few feet away may be feeding opportunistically. One run or
riffle may have several trout that are feeding selectively at the same moment another
run or riffle a few yards upstream doesn't.
Call it whatever you prefer to call it. Under these conditions I just described,
would you rather be fishing an imitation of a stonefly nymph or a mayfly
nymph? I think most anglers would agree that your odds would be greater if you
were fishing the best imitation of a Little Yellow Stonefly nymph you could get your
hands on. By the way, that would be a "Perfect Fly" Little Yellow Stonefly Nymph.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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