Hatches Made Easy:
Blue Quills: Duns and Spinners
The dun bodies are a reddish brown color and the wings are slate gray. When
the duns hatch, they usually float a rather long distance on the surface of the
water before flying away, sometimes as much as twenty or thirty feet. This is
especially true at the early part of the hatch when the water is still cold. When
the water gets close to 50 degrees F. and higher, the trout will take the
duns very well. If you do not get results from fishing the dun imitations and the
blue quills are hatching, then you should go back to an emerger or nymph
Up and Up and across presentations of the dun imitations usually work best if
you are fishing the smooth edges of the current seams, or calm pocket in the
rough pocket water. If the water is slow moving and very slick or smooth, such
as the ends of long runs, the tail outs of pools and riffles, you may want to use a
down and across presentation to get the drag-free drift you need.
The duns may be caught in the fast water by the time they hatch, so it is a good
idea to fish the faster water that the duns are likely to be caught in after they
hatch. Now that sounds a little confusing but here is what I mean. To the side of
or below every slow section of water you will find a fast water seam that carries
that water away. Water in these types of areas where they hatch will collect the
Blue Quill duns and carry them downstream while they are still on the surface.
Keep in mind that they usually don't drift on the surface for several yards, rather
several feet. Later in the hatch, if the water warms to as much as 55 degrees or
more, the duns may not drift far at all, so this changes during the duration of the
hatch. Remember, these little mayflies may hatch for a month or even longer
than the Quill Gordons. You will need to make adjustments in your presentation
to adjust for this long emergence period of time. Don't look for any heavy
concentrations of them. You probably won't find that happening but you will find
duns on the water for several days.
Spinners begin to appear within hours after a hatch. Although the spinner fall
can occur in the early mornings, it usually happens late in the afternoons just
before dark. They have a reddish brown body color with transparent wings. The
spinner fall may occur very late in the day, if the hatch occurs late or near the
end of the Blue Quill hatch period of time. It may even occur after you can legally
fish in the park, but most of the time it will take place in the late
afternoons or early mornings-sometimes, both.
The mayflies will mate and the female Blue Quills will deposit their eggs in the
same type of water that they hatch in. This is the slower moving water that is
near fast water. This can be the edges of the banks, the tail outs of pools and
riffles and the ends of long runs.
After the females die, they will become spent on the surface. The males will too if
they happen to fall on the water. Most often the spinners will be caught up in the
faster water and carried downstream to collect into calm pockets of water, eddies
and along the outer edges of current seams.
A down and across presentation or direct downstream slack cast may be
needed, especially if the water is very smooth. It depends on the water that they
are trapped in.
We have had some excellent success fishing the spinner fall during the
late afternoons. We do better if it is late in the duration of the Blue Quill hatch
when the weather is usually warmer and it is very overcast or rainy. We have on
a few occasions found the trout feeding on the spent spinners in very calm,
shallow water in the early morning. Sometimes the Quill Gordon spinners will be
mixed in with them. Blue-winged olives and Little Blue-winged Olive spinners may
also be present. This takes a light, long leader and tippet and a careful
presentation. Most anglers haven't started to fish this early in the morning. If you
happen to go early in the morning during a hatch, check the water for them.
Often they can be spotted along the edge of the water right against the banks.
You almost need to get down on your knees to see them. Since spinners float
spent, flush with the surface, there is nothing protruding above the water to help
The early season Blue Quill hatch can be even more important than the
Quill Gordons that start hatching about the same time of the season. That is
because it usually last much longer and there are usually a lot more of
them than they are Quill Gordons. On very overcast or rainy days the hatch is
usually more intense. They may be mixed in with the Blue-winged olives. Since
they are about the same size of some of the baetis species, the same fly may
work for both, even though the Blue Quills are much darker in color. This hatch
is not real easy to fish because of the calm location of the water they hatch in.
You can't just toss an imitation upstream into the fast runs and count on
catching trout. You may be successful a few times but usually success
demands more thoughtful presentations.
Coming Up Next:
Blue Quill Fly Patterns:
Copyright 2008 James Marsh
Blue Quill Spinner