Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies
4. Slate Drakes
5. Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
6. Little Yellow Quills
7. Needle Stoneflies
11. Crane Flies
13. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
The Learning Process - Part 79
I hope you have been following this series at least since October 8th, otherwise, I don't think this
article will make much sense to you.
I tend to think that the people I am writing to are mostly local anglers that live
around the Smokies and in the nearby states. One thing we can't determine is
where our visitors come from. When I ran a breakdown on sales about a month ago
for our "Fly Fishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park DVD", I was surprised to
see demographics showing that people living in states that adjoin the Smokies
represent only a small part of the sales. Tennessee and North Carolina customers
combined totaled only 8% of the sales. The number one state for sales of the DVD
is New York, then Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama,
California, Tennessee, and Florida. There are a lot of people that fly fish from New
York and California and both states have a huge populations. We have no idea of
knowing where dealers sell them from wholesale orders through Angler's Book
Store and Amazon. There have been over 1500 sold so far.
That still doesn't let me know where the people that visit this site are located.
Although we have over 1500 people that have signed up for email on this website,
we still don't know where they are located. I can only assume they would have the
same demographics as the Smoky DVD.
I'm not really to surprised at the stats My saltwater fishing videos have been sold for
the past 24 years by Bennett Marine of California, and the number one state for
sales has always been either New York or California, depending on when you check
it. Florida is usually number three. Most people would guess Florida would be the
number one state.
I think I can safely assume that when I write something on this website, which is
ranked number one for fly fishing the Smoky Mountains by the search
engines, the articles are read by people from the same general, wide spread area I
When I use the word "Blue Quill", for example, most of the anglers that live around
the Smokies know which mayfly I am talking about. When someone from the
Mid-west or West sees the same word, they think of a completely different species
that usually hatches in September, not March. When i use the word "Mahogany
Dun", our local anglers probably think of what everyone everywhere else in the
nation calls a "Slate Drake". At least some of the locals and some guides I know use
the name "Mahogany Dun" for the large mayfly, hook size 10 or 12, that hatches
out of the water and over a long period of time in the Smokies. Most anywhere else,
"Mahogany Duns" are small mayflies in the same group as the "Blue Quill".They are
a hook size 18 to 20 mayfly that hatches later in late summer. These same "Blue
Quills" or "Mahogany Duns" exist in good quantities in the park. Here they hatch in
September mostly and they are a size 18 to 20. I call them "Mahogany Duns" like
most books and anglers from the Northeast call them. Anglers from the West call
them "Blue Quills". I haven't head a local angler call them anything because I never
hear anyone talking about the September hatch. I believe many that see it in the
Smokies think it with a Blue-winged Olive. The bottom line is when you use the
name Blue Quill, Slate Drake or Mahogany Dun, either name could be referring to
anyone of three completely different mayflies. By the way, don't confuse any of the
above with the Blue Dun because it isn't a mayfly. It is a color in some cases and
the name of a fly in others. If you are not confused by now, you certainly
Speaking of Blue-winged Olives. That is another totally meaningless word as far as
describing a mayfly. It represents flies from a hook size 14 all the way to a size 24. I
want get into that now, because it is impossible to discuss the flies lumped under
this category without using scientific names. The problem with the BWO isn't the
color of the mayfly. They all have basic olive bodies with blue tinted gray wings. The
problem is some are crawler nymphs and some are swimming nymphs. Some are
even members of the same family as the Western Green Drakes. In other words,
some of the mayflies included under the name "Blue-winged Olive" don't resemble
each other at all in size or shape and worse, even as to where they live.
Some of the BWO nymphs crawl out of the water to hatch. Some hatch on the
bottom and surface as grown fly. Some crawl up plant stems and hatch. Some hatch
on the surface of the water. Some Blue-winged Olives dive and paste their eggs on
the bottom. Some crawl down plant stems to paste their eggs on the bottom. Some
drop them from mid air. Some knock them off on the surface of the water.
The word, Blue-winged Olive is worth very little. There is far less confusion with it in
the West, because they don't lump the crawler nymphs in with the swimming
nymphs. They have fewer species. Speaking of the Green Drakes, I just mentioned,
remember that we have Green Drakes in the East also. The Eastern Green Drake
and Western Green Drake are as similar to each other as a elk is to a mountain
I also own and write a daily article for "Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park". It is
visited by twice the number of anglers that visit this site and is ranked number
three for "fly fishing Yellowstone". Many of its visitors also visit this site and
vice versa. As just mentioned I also produced DVD on fly fishing that sell
nationwide. In fact, my DVD programs on fly fishing sell more copies than any
What if I used the words "Blue Quill", "Mahogany Dun", "Slate Drake", and
"Blue-winged Olive" (alone) when writing on talking about mayflies. Some may know
what I was really referring to and many may not. For example, if I said "October
Caddis", that refers to a specific Western caddisfly. However, some anglers in the
Southeast call our "Great Autumn Brown Sedge", an "October Caddis". None of the
books do I know of, and most anglers don't. If I did, people in the West would think
we have the same caddisfly here that they have. The facts are, we don't. Our
"Great Autumn Brown Sedge" hatches during the night and deposit their eggs
during the night. They rarely, if ever, get on the water during the daylight hours.
You see them in the bushes and air but they don't get on the water until it is dark.
This is not so with the "October Caddis". My western website visitors would start
thinking I had lost my mind when I started writing about our Smoky Mountain
"October Caddis". However, the Great Autumn Brown Sedge does hatch during the
month of October, and no one is wrong for calling it an "October Caddis".
Now I could go on and on with dozens of more examples of common name
confusion, but I think you get the point. Common names are worthless in
describing aquatic insects, especially when you are trying to communicate
to anglers nationwide. When I realized that and knew the only way for me to
positively identify the insects was using Latin names, I freaked out.
Don't blame me with it. I didn't do it. Scientist did it many years ago. Both common
names and scientific names are so confusing to me, that I assigned a number to
them for my "Perfect Fly" website. I haven't yet mentioned it in this article. What if I
sold flies using their common name? Would it cause the same confusion anglers go
through every day with other online stores and fly shops? Yes, of course it would.
Anglers visiting our Perfect Fly site, don't have to order a "Blue Quill" dun. They
order a #2601 mayfly, which is identified by both its common name or names and its
scientific name. Believe it or not, many anglers know the scientific names of most of
the insects on their streams. I would even go so far as to say that most of the
anglers that fish more than once or twice a year in the Northeast know most of the
insects on their streams by their scientific name. Most avid Mid-Western anglers
know them. It seems to vary in the West, depending on where. I would say that
many of them know them well and some don't. Most of the anglers in Colorado that
fish more than once or twice a year know some of them at least. It is about the
same with the California anglers. Most of the anglers from the Southeast, even
those that fish often, don't know them or only know a very few of them. In other
words, there's a lot of anglers that recognize the scientific names and want to know
them just to make sure they are comparing apples to apples. There has been
several books written about aquatic insects, all of which use their scientific names. I
own over thirty that only deal with insects.
I go to a lot of effort to properly identify each and every fly we sell on our Perfect Fly
website. It not only includes a full description of each of the insects the flies imitate,
it has information telling you how to imitate the behavior of the particular insect or
insects the fly represents. The following may help explain one reason I do this.
When I first came to the Smokies and was told the Blue Quills (and Quill
Gordons)were hatching, I went to a local fly shop to purchase files for them. The fly
shop sold me some flies that were supposed to imitate a Blue Quill. They were a
hook size 16. I later discovered, that there has never been a size 16 Blue Quill fly in
the Smokies. In fact, females are nearer a size 18 and males are nearer to a size 20.
When I first purchased some Trico duns for fishing the BattenKill at Orvis's
headquarter store which is located on the Battenkill, they sold me some size 18
Trico duns and spinner flies. I doubt there has ever been a size 18 Trico mayfly in
Manchester, New Hampshire. You would think the Orvis people would know that
more than anyone else. They know anglers like large flies and they know large flies
sell better than small flies. The Tricos on the stream that day were about a size 22 -
not any larger than that for certain. The point I am getting to, is that even the high
class fly shops will sell flies and provide information on insects that is completely
worthless. In fact, the Orvis Eastern Hatch Chart, is totally worthless. An angler is
far better off not having it. It is so general the dates are worthless in most cases
and it includes mayflies that may not even exist on the streams you fish. It includes
the Gray Fox, which doesn't exit at all and two other mayflies that are incorrectly
identified. The very idea of lumping Mid-western and Eastern flies in the same
category is ridiculous. Also, please notice what they call the Smokies' Blue Quill.
They have a third name for it - a "Little Mahogany". At least they do list the proper
scientific name for it. If it were not for the scientific name, who would know what it
I have noticed that recently they are providing some hot local information on
streams across the nations. Instead of a hatch chart, it is a localized "sell a fly chart"
and "hire a guide chart". Big Horn Sulphurs and Adams mayflies don't hatch in
June. There is no such a thing as a Bighorn Sulphur or a Adams mayfly. There are
no sulphurs on the Big Horn River, by the way. My guess is that Orvis did it to sell
more flies and to try to gain search engine ratings. They realize the search engines
don't know Orvis from Jack Daniel.
Anyway, I realize most anglers, including me, don't like using scientific names. I use
them only because it is absolutely necessary when communicating with anglers
across the nation, but when I do, I always use the most often used common names
along with them.
I read a recent article about the Smokies that implied that all anglers need to know
is whether the insect they need to match is green, brown or some other color. For
those of you that want to buy that, please be advised that we do show the colors of
our Perfect Flies. I'm sure there's still some old timers out there that can't read and
will find this a huge benefit.
By the way, if you want to know the scientific names of the flies I was referring to
above, read on. If not, don't waste your time. Just be sure to visit us again
tomorrow. I appreciate each and every one of you visiting our websites.
Blue Quill: Papaleptophlebia adoptiva
Western Blue Quills: Papaleptophlebia memorialis
Mahogany Duns: Papaleptophlebia mollis and guttata
Western Green Drake: Drunella doddsi and grandis (both almost identical)
Eastern Green Drake: Ephemera guttuata
October Caddis: Dicosmoecus gilvipes and atripes (Also a "Giant Orange Sedge")
Great Autumn Brown Sedge: Pycnopsyche guttifer, lepida, scabripennis (the
Smokies are mostly guttifer species - notice the last one scabripennis is almost a dirty
word. They use the pennis to identify some species.
Slate Drake: Isonychia bicolor
Copyright 2009 James Marsh