Flies Needed Now for Fishing the Smokies
I mentioned yesterday that I would make current, periodic postings of what flies I
think an angler should have when fishing the Smokies throughout the year. When
this list changes, meaning an insects is done hatching for the year, or another one
should start hatching, I will revise it. Also, keep in mind that some of these insects
have not yet started to hatch but they are getting ready too.. I explain below the
importance of that in "what is about to hatch". The aquatic insects I mentioned
yesterday were as follows:
Insects and other food the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis)
2. Blue Quills
3. Quill Gordons
4. Little Black Caddis
5. Winter Stoneflies
I didn't mention midges yesterday, but there could very well be a need for them. I
will explain why later. I also didn't mention streamers that imitate various minnows,
baitfish, sculpin, crawfish (crayfish) and other marine species of food. They do not
hatch, of course, but they are shown on hatch charts and they are very useful at
times. I will explain when and why later.
What is about to hatch:
Now that I have listed the hatches that could occur soon in the streams of the park,
I will mention a very important, often overlooked thing about a hatch chart. It doesn't
just show what is hatching at any one given date, it also shows what is about to
hatch. Here is the importance of that.
When an aquatic insect is getting ready to hatch, most all of them change locations
they normally reside in and also change their normal behavior. They come out from
their normal hiding places and become much more available for the trout to eat.
Some of them move to a different area and type of water even though it may be
only a very short distance. The period of time they are in this transitional situation
varies greatly depending on the species of insect and the changes in the weather
during the hatch. I generally use a very rough rule of thumb of about a week or two.
It is often much less and sometimes longer. In many cases I know fairly specifically
and in others it is an estimate.
Whenever nymphs or larvae come out of their normal hiding places to hatch, the
trout know it very well. They key in on the easy to acquire food. When I mention
larvae, I am referring to caddisflies and midges. Without going into detail here, just
be reminded that they will undergo another stage of life, the pupa stage, before
hatching into an adult fly. During the time this change is occurring they are very
available for the trout. Midges come out of their burrows. Cased caddis larvae come
out of their cases. Net spinning caddisflies pupate. To simplify this even farther, just
let me say that within a short time (a week or two) before an insect is going to
hatch, they become more available for the trout to eat than any other time in their
life. The trout are well aware of that and key in it. You should too.
You are always better off imitating an insect that is about to hatch than those that
may not getting ready to hatch and are still in their normal stream habitat. Mayfly
Clinger nymphs are under the rocks. Crawler nymphs are down between rocks and
are hidden as well as they can hide. Swimmer nymphs are hidden in cover like
minnows. Burrowers are in their burrowers.
Now that I have explained why it is important to know what is about to hatch at a
later date, let me point out that it may be just as important to have flies that imitate
these insects in their larva and pupa stages of life as it is the newly hatched adult
caddis, stoneflies and midges and mayfly duns. I will make this point very clear. If
you are going to fish a nymph, fish a nymph that imitates an insect that is
about to hatch. The same thing applies to larva imitations. This will result in one
thing. You will catch more trout.
Flies you should be using now:
Now lets get back to the insects that we need to be concerned with now in the
Smokies. There are no other insects, other than the ones I listed above, that are
getting close to hatching at this time. You will note that the Hendricksons will be next
to hatch. We show them starting as early as the last week of March. We will be
adding them to the list of insects that are about to hatch so that you will have
Hendrickson Nymphs about the second week of March, or a couple of weeks before
they may start to hatch.
I note in our "Planning" section on "Flies to bring with you to the Smokies" than a
safe way make sure you have every fly that you may need is to select flies from the
hatch chart in a time frame starting a month before to a month after the dates you
will be fishing. If you know the current hatch conditions, you can reduce the number
of flies you will need.
During the time you are fishing and nothing is hatching, you should (a) fish nymphs
and larvae imitations of the insects that should be hatching at the time you are
fishing but haven't yet started; or (b) nymphs or larva imitations of those insects
that are going to hatch later in the day. For example, if the Quill Gordons are
hatching, they will not emerge until the warmest part of the day which is usually
around 2:00 P.M. Up until that time, you should be fishing a Quill Gordon nymph.
The same thing applies to the Blue Quills or the Blue-winged Olives.
Now lets get back to the list and talk about the flies instead of the insects. I am
going to list the specific flies I think you should have. Since we sell flies, you can bet
I will be talking about our own "Perfect Flies". I say that in a kidding manner, of
course, but in reality, I think once you have tried them you will understand why I am
making that statement.
I will make another point that I consider very important. When you are imitating a
particular aquatic insect that is either hatching or about to hatch, you are always
better off fishing a specific imitation of that particular insect as opposed to a
generic or attractor fly that represents no certain insect. Later, I will explain why in
detail but for now, I will say it again. You are much better off having specific
imitations (flies that looks like and act like particular insects) of the insects
that are hatching or about to hatch, than generic or attractor flies.
If you have specific imitations other than our Perfect Flies or if you tie your own
specific imitations, that is fine. I am not necessarily saying I have the only specific
imitations there are. I will say I have far more than any other fly company in the
World. I will also say that we have far better specific imitations that are more
realistic in appearance and behavior, than any other fly company in the World.
You may find a few flies representing certain insects at a particular stage of life on
the commercial market, but it will only be a small percentage of them. When you do,
you want find them to be near as close in looks or behavior as our "Perfect Flies".
Try finding a Blue Quill Emerger or even a Blue Quill Spinner. Most fly salesman will
tell you, "just use such as such - It is close enough". It may be close enough for
Government Work. Just beat it to fit the situation and paint it to match the real bug.
I'm kidding but I am also making a serious implication.
I will be listing the flies I think you need for the Smokies on a current basis
throughout the year. I will also be explaining the details that I think makes a
difference. Lets start with flies representing part of one group of insects that you will
need just about the entire year.
1. Blue-winged Olive Nymphs:
The BWOs that will be hatching soon, and continue off and on (more off than on)
until June, are species of the Baetis genus of the Baetidae family of mayflies. There
are several slightly different species that will start hatching soon and continue until
June. This does not include the Little Blue-winged Olives. It doesn't include the
Eastern Blue-winged Olives (Drunella species). I am referring to species of the
Baetis genera that are all slim, narrow profiled, swimming nymphs that act more like
minnows than the crawler or clinger nymphs.
The Baetis species are either a hook size 16 or 18. You don't need the size 14
BWOs. That hook size imitates one species of the Eastern BWOs that hatches later
on in the year. There is no need for a hook size 20 BWO until later in the season.
That size BWOs (except for sparse unimportant species) are through hatching until
June and later. In the upcoming months, you want imitations in a hook size 16 and
and 18. Let me explain why.
Lets look at two of the several species of baetis. The Baetis brunneicolor may be a
16 whereas the Baetis Intercalaris may be a 18, depending on the sex of each one.
NOW DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE LATIN NAMES. YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW
THEM. There is no recognisable common name for these particular species. I AM
USING THEM ONLY TO POINT OUT WHY YOU NEED ONLY TWO HOOK SIZES
FOR THEM. There will be times during the year you will need a hook size 20 and a
hook size 14 BWOs, but not now.
BWO Nymph (Fly):
This image is the real nymph you are imitating
This image is our Perfect Fly Nymph: (These are thumbnails, click image for large view)
You can easily see how small and slim the Baetis is. Our Perfect Fly has those
same characteristics. For example, our fly is slimmer than most generic nymphs.
The biot ribs look very similar to the segmented body. The sealed turkey wing case
is dark with a sheen on it that looks very much like the Baetis nymphs before they
hatch. The tail of a Baetis is not a solid color. That is why we use partridge
feathers. The same thing goes for the legs. When the fly moves through the water
the legs move back closer to the body. The fly can be fished on the bottom by
adding weight, anywhere in between the bottom and the surface and in the surface
skim by greasing it without weight. The slim, narrow design allows the fly to dart
erratically, similar to the real nymphs, if you twitch the tip of the rod or the line with
If you tie your own flies, our "Tying Perfect Mayfly Nymphs" DVD will show you how
to tie the swimming nymphs as well as the other types of nymphs.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh