12/01/09
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
2.   Great Brown Autumn Sedge
3.   Little Yellow Quills
4.   Needle Stoneflies
5.   Crane Flies
6.   Hellgrammite
7.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
8.   Midges

Basics of Fly Fishing: Trout Food Series - Top 5 Tips On Imitating  
Aquatic Insects Found In The Smokies

1. Understand the Cycle of Aquatic Insects:
With the exception of one mayfly (only important in Abrams Creek) and two large
stoneflies, all the of the important aquatic insects that exist in the park
complete
their entire life within a year or less.
When these insects make the change from
living in the water to living on land, they only live for a very short time. Only a few
flies live for over a week.  
The majority of these insects are only a "fly" for a
day
. Those that do live as a full grown fly for a longer time are only on the water for
a very short part of the time they do live. Most of the time and maybe all of the time
depending on their sex, they are out of the water either flying or perched on
vegetation or the ground. That means aquatic insects spend most all of their life in
the water, and of course, that is why they are aquatic insects versus terrestrial
insects as pointed out in our last series article.

2. Understand the Availability of Aquatic Insects:
There's more aquatic insect food in the water the first few months of the year than
the last few months of the year: The large majority of these insects hatch between
the first of the year and the middle of Summer. Only a small percentage hatch in the
Fall and late in the year. By the way, most of those that do hatch late in the year
(Blue-winged Olives) are bi-brooded. That simply means they hatch twice a year.
Those insects that hatch during the late Winter, Spring and Early Summer are
either tiny eggs or baby insects (very small) for the first few months of their life.
Early in the year, from January through the first four or five months, the streams are
literally full of large size insects as a nymph or larva. In case you don't know what
those words mean, don't worry about the words nymphs and larva yet. We will get to
that shortly.

3. When a Fly Should Be Used Below The Surface:
Most all of the time an aquatic insect should be imitated with a sub-surface fly:
Since the aquatic insects spend almost all of their life in the water, to imitate them
you have to fish a fly below the surface.

4. The Two Times A Dry Fly Should Be Used:
The only time a dry fly (a fly fished on top of the surface of the water) should be
used to imitate aquatic insects is when that insect has hatched into a "fly". It will no
longer live in the water. It will live on land and in the air until it dies, which is usually
only a very short time. The first time you should imitate the insect with a dry fly is
when the insect is on the surface of the water about to depart the water and fly off
into the grass, bushes or trees. The second and only other time you should imitate
the insect with a dry fly is when the female is depositing her eggs on the surface of
the water or when either the male or females fall dead on the surface of the water.
Those are the only times the insects are on the surface of the water.

5. Your Odds Of Fishing A Dry Fly Versus A Sub-Surface Fly:
Considering everything mentioned in the first four tips, it makes sense that your
odds of catching trout on flies fished below the surface are much greater than on
flies fished on the surface. All of the aquatic insects spend at least a hundred days
of their life in the water for every few minutes spent on the surface of the water.

Stream and Lake Destinations - Bitterroot River, Montana
The next stream we will feature in our new "Streams" section of our "Perfect Fly"
website is the
Bitterroot River. It is considered to be one of the best trout streams
in the state that has most of the best trout streams in the nation - Montana.

This river is large and diversified enough that it could be broken down into three
separate sections - its East and West Forks and the main river. Together they are
over 135 miles long. Just about all of it provides good fishing. Most of it flows
through a fairly well established part of the state near the fast growing college city
of Missoula, Montana. Our personal favorite section is the West Fork. It is a
tailwater but you would hardly recognize that unless you spotted the dam. The
discharges are normally perfect for the trout and the trout fishing. It is rather small
for a tailwater and not even considered the best part of the Bitterroot River. The
reason why is simple. It is too small to float from a drift boat and the local fly shops
and outfitters push the part of the river where they can make the most money which
is, of course, the parts that can be fished from a drift boat. On each of the several
days we have fished the West Fork, we have managed to catch more fish than
anglers that fished the main river from a boat by a considerable amount.

I don't want to downplay the main stem of the river by any means. It provides good
fishing for its entire 75 mile course. We do prefer the upper, middle part of it
however. The East Fork offers fine fishing also, but it is mostly small stream fishing
with smaller fish on the average. You can follow this entire river by road from one
end to the other including both forks. By the way, Missoula is a wonderful big town.
We always enjoy staying there because we can reach several great rivers and
streams from there with a short drive.  It's also an easy stream to catch a Western
Grand Slam on - cutthroat, brook, brown and rainbow trout.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh