Fishing the South Holston Tailwater - BWOs - Part 2
The Blue-winged Olives that you find on the South Holston River Tailwater will vary
greatly in size. The first thing you need to do is to determine the size they are at the
time and place you are fishing. The duns are fairly easy to catch. Catch one and
examine it. Determine as close as you can which fly size will come the closest to it.
Try to determine what kind of blue-winged olive it is. If the dun is larger than a hook
size 18, most likely it is an Eastern Blue-winged Olive. They can be as large as a
size 14 but more often are a size 16. They also, depending on the species, can be
a size 18 and would be difficult to tell from a baetis species. However, I doubt you
would find a baetis as large as a size 16. If it is a tiny one, say a size 22 or 24, most
likely it is a Little Blue-winged Olive. Small blue-winged olives are a size 16 to 18.
Why they are called small is beyond me. If you can determine which genera they
belong to, then you would know for certain how to imitate its behavior.
For now lets assume they are a hook size 18 or 20 and a baetis species. That is
what you are most likely going to find. Baetis do not hatch in fast water. They hatch
in the calm pockets and edges of the fast water in the slower moving water. The
duns may eventually get caught up in the fast water but they have usually flown
away before they are caught by the faster water.
You should be using a long leader and tippet. I would suggest at least a ten foot
leader including a two foot 6X or 7X tippet. The trick is to be able to cast the fly in
the pockets and slow water current without your line being caught in the faster
water and the fly yanked into a skying act. You have to pay attention to where your
line is landing and you must be able to mend the line to keep a drag free drift for at
least a short time.
If the hatch is underway, meaning you are seeing duns coming off the water, try to
determine if the fish are taking the duns on the surface. You will be able to actually
see the fish taking the duns if they are. They will take them the same way they take
a dry fly. If that is the case, tie on a dun. Place it just inside the slow side of the
seam created by the pocket or current edge.
If that is not happening or you do not notice trout taking flies but you are seeing the
duns, tie on an emerger pattern. We have two "Perfect Fly" types of emergers. One
imitates the emerging nymph when the wing pad splits open and the wings first
begin to come out. A mayfly at this stage of the hatch has not shed its nymphal
shuck. Our fly floats in the surface skim by its CDC wing.
The other one is the trailing shuck version. It imitates the mayfly when the nymphal
shuck has been shed and is being discarded from the tail. It also floats in the
I suggest that you first try the emerging nymph style. If it doesn't work, try the shuck
style. If neither works, and you are seeing mayflies coming off the surface of the
water, you are doing something wrong.
If you happen to fish the following day, and you know the BWOs are going to hatch,
but it has not yet started, you would want to fish a nymph. We will get into the
spinners and more about fishing the hatch tomorrow.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh