Methods & Strategies to Use "Now" Fishing the Smokies
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
Note: We have added two more families of stoneflies to our "Flies You Need Now"
list. They will be showing up soon if not already - the Taeniopterygidae &
Nemouridae Families. These are technically all "Little Brown Stoneflies" but some of
them are closer to black in color than they are brown.
Little Black Caddis:
The "Little Black Caddisfly" is probably better known from its larva stage. The
chimney cases they exist in are very unique. You will see these in every stream in
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the western United States this hatch is
probably better know as the "Mothers Day Hatch". They are also called "American
Grannoms". In the Eastern U. S. they are just called "Little Black Caddis".
The Little Black Caddisflies will be the first major caddisfly hatch to occurs in the
park. There are some others, the Tiny Black Caddis not to be confused with the
Grannoms, and several species of net spinners that in my opinion don't exist in
quantities worth imitating. They may in Abrams Creek in larger quantities but other
than that, they are very sparse hatches.
The Little Black Caddis usually start hatching when the water reaches near 50
degrees Fahrenheit. Once they start they tend to continue even if the water drop
down low again. I have seen the adults when they were so cold they couldn't fly.
You could just pick them up and they couldn't escape. That is normally not the
situation though. Normally they act more like a mayfly than any other species of
Just in case you are interested, the Brachyentridae family of caddisflies, called the
“Short Horned Caddisflies”, include the Brachycentrus genus, of which the "Little
Black Caddis" belong too. They are found nationwide are and are one of the most
prevalent families of caddisflies found on water that supports trout.
This is one of the most overlooked hatches in Great Smoky Mountains National
Park. One reason is that is occurs near the same time as the Blue Quills and Quill
Gordons hatch. They even hatch about the same time of day which is the warmest
part of the day, usually early to mid-afternoon. There have been several
occcassions during the last ten years that Angie and I have caught far more trout
fishing this hatch than we did fishing the Quill Gordons or Blue Quills.
Looking back over my tape logs, I was reminded that three years ago during the
first week of March when the Quill Gordons started to hatch and then stopped
because of a cold front that dropped the water temperature down to around forty to
forty-five degrees, we caught trout in Little River for three straight days when no
one we heard of or talked to caught anything. This took place at a very difficult
place to find (kidding). Headed downstream a short distance from the turnoff of the
main road to Elkmont Campground there is a larger parking lot and turn around
area. It has a one way coming back out. Right at the parking lot there is a nice run
with several sets of riffles above it. That general area is where we (fishing one at a
time) managed to catch over 50 trout in the afternoons during the three days I am
We had some experience that helped us do that. About three years before that we
spent the entire month of April in the state of Colorado. We went there to fish the
famous "Mother's Day" caddis hatch on the Arkansas River that last about two to
three weeks from the lower end of the long river to the upper headwaters. We
fished 23 other streams in the state during that 32 day period. All but a few of the
streams have the "Mothers day hatch" which is the same as our Little Black Caddis
hatch, just slightly different species. Anglers from all over the nation come there to
fish this hatch. During that time we caught hundreds of trout fishing this hatch.
We visited several fly shops in Colorado, some that were on the Arkansas River
that were very knowledgeable about the hatch. Some of them sold fly patterns they
had developed over the years and some only had the standard "Elk Hair Caddis"
dry flies. Only a few had imitations of the pupae. We fished every fly pattern that
was sold in the state that was close to these caddisflies. The bottom line was that
none of them did a good job of imitating these caddisflies. These were so plentiful
on the Arkansas River that at times we had to stop and clean the windshield of our
vehicle to keep driving along the highway that follows the river all the way to
There is nothing mush else that hatches in April but these caddisflies. There is are
a few hatches of Blue-winged Olives on some streams and midge hatches but that
is about it. Everyone starts the season fishing these same caddisfly hatches that
everyone here ignores. The difference is that they don't have the Quill Gordons or
the same species (adoptive) we call "Blue Quills". Their Blue Quill are summer and
fall hatches also called Mahogany Duns. That is what is so confusing about using
common names. They all mean different things in different areas and sometimes in
the same area.
It is easier to catch trout in the Smokies during the Little Black Caddis hatch than it
is the Blue Quill hatch. It is just as easy to catch trout from the Little Black Caddis
hatch as it is the Quill Gordon hatch. You can catch trout feeding on both the
emergers and adults while they are hatching and continue catching them as late as
the rules permit you to fish on adult patterns when the trout are feeding on the egg
layers from previous hatches. Usually that is about from 2:00 PM until dark.
I will get into the details of fishing this hatch for the next couple of days.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh