06/27/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
3    Light Cahills - hatching
4.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5.   Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
6.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
7.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
8.   Green Sedges - hatching
9.   Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
10. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
11. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
12. Golden Stonefly - hatching
13. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
14. Slate Drakes - hatching
15. Beetles
16. Grasshoppers

The Learning Process - Part 14
The next thing I notice in my trip logs indicating when I began to notice that the fly
did make a difference occurred at the South Holston Tailwater. It was not really very
different from the situation I described on the Gibbon River or the Snake River
because it was just another mayfly of the same family we were trying to match.

In May of the same year (several years ago) when we returned from our first
Colorado Trip we spent a week in Damascus, Virginia. One of the streams we fished
was the South Holston Tailwater across the state line in Tennessee. We started just
below the weir dam and as Angie almost always did at the time, she fished a
Parachute Adams.  At the time we didn't know that Sulphurs were the main hatch
there and we didn't know that much about Sulphurs anyway. By the way, years
later, after taking stream samples I found out there are two different so called
Sulphurs there. One was correctly called a Sulphur and the other similar one is a
Eastern Pale Evening Dun.

Angie fished first and I ran camera. She managed to pick up four or five small trout
on her Parachute Adams about two hundred yards below the weir dam, but nothing
over about ten inches long. We moved on downstream when the Sulphur hatch
started and I managed to do the same exact thing on a Parachute Adams. We went
back to the fly shop in Virginia the following morning and complained about the
small fish we caught that day. Bruce, the owner, told us we should be fishing a
Sulfur dry fly and so we purchased some.

The following day, Angie just changed to a yellow Parachute Adams we had
purchased out West. She fished first and did exactly what she did the day before.
She managed to catch several small trout that were probably stocked a few months
earlier. When it came my turn, I fished the Sulphur flies we purchased the day
before. I have no record of what the fly was other than it was his version of a
Sulphur and if I remember correctly, it was a vertically wound Catskill style fly.
According to my tape logs, I caught four brown trout over twelve inches (two were
over fourteen inches) and four rainbow trout that I failed to log any size information
about. I do remember a couple of them were nice fish.

The point of all these fish tales is to say that we found out on that trip that although
the Parachute Adams was a good fly, it didn't work for the Sulphur hatch at the
South Holston River tailwater. The water there consist mostly of riffles in the section
where we were fishing at the time. There are small calm pockets where the Sulphurs
hatch but most all of the water and the water where the trout were taking the fly was
in the faster water. I know now those mayflies were the Eastern Pale Evening Duns,
not the true Sulphurs that hatch later in the year. They tend to stay in and hatch in
faster water than the true Sulphurs.
I mention that only to point out that even
in fast moving water, the trout can easily determine the difference in the
flies. We learned the Parachute Adams, even in a yellow version, did not
work for the hatch.
The Perfect Flies we have now, one for the Eastern Pale
Evening dun and one for the Sulphur, work much better than the ones I used on
that trip years ago.

I could go on writing for days about the times we found out that generic flies just
didn't work at many other places and under many other conditions. I could give
many other examples of tailwaters we fished from coast to coast where the
Parachute Adams just didn't work. I even remember a tailwater we fished on the
West Fork of the Bitteroot River in Montana were cutthroat trout would not take the
Parachute Adams for a PMD.

I can tell you without writing a lot of stories that using one on Pennsylvania's
Limestone Spring Creeks, many of which we have fished; Silver Creek Idaho; the
Harrimon State Park on the Henry's Fork; much of the Delaware River; Wisconsin's
Spring Creeks; the Spring Creeks of Oregon and Northern California and the North
Fork of the White River in Missouri, you are wasting time fishing a Parachute
Adams.  

Whenever you get the fly in fast water with a rough surface, not fast smooth water
like the Madison or Firehole Rivers, but fast water of runs and riffles, the fly works
well unless an insect is hatching that looks quite different or isn't gray or a darker
shade of color. That is simply because the trout are only getting a glimpse of the fly.

I am not picking on a Parachute Adams. I think it is by far the best generic or
non-specific imitation of a mayfly dun. I am pointing this out only to say that the fly
you use, yes, even in the Smokies, does make a difference. It doesn't make more
difference than the presentation and it doesn't make more difference than some
other things such as hiding from the trout but it does make a difference. Sometimes
it makes only a little difference, sometimes a lot of difference and sometimes the
difference in catching trout or not catching trout. To use one exclusively or any
generic fly exclusively in the Smokies or anywhere else short of a newly stocked
stream, is a big mistake.

Copyright James Marsh 2009
Parachute Adams
Which fly had you rather use for the hatch? Which body looks similar to the real Sulphur? Which
tail look similar - the clump on the Par. Adams or the tail on our fly? By the way, both of these
mayflies also hatch in some areas of the streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Our "Perfect Fly" Sulphur (hatches at the South Holston)
A male (big red eyes) Sulphur that hatches at
South Holston
Image of a female Eastern Pale Evening Dun that
was actually taken at the South Holston