Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Black Winter Stoneflies
3. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
Basics of Fly Fishing - Trout Food Series - Mayflies - Part 19
Well, we are getting close to being finished with the little Blue Quills. As far as most
anglers are concerned we have finished because few of them ever try to catch trout
on the Blue Quill spinner fall. It's a lot like the Blue-winged Olive spinner fall in that
they are so small, they are very difficult to see, especially after they are on the
water. In fact, if you don't skim the surface, in the low light conditions under which
they normally fall, you will never see them.
These spinners show up not long after the hatch occurs. It usually happens late in
the afternoons just before dark. If it is during the first part of the hatch period, in
late February or early March, they may fall in the later part of the afternoon. Later
in the hatch period, when the weather has warmed some, they may not fall until
dark. Both the males and females have a reddish brown body with transparent
Blue Quills mate, the males fall and die and a short time later, the female Blue Quills
from the prior day's hatch deposit their eggs in the same type of water that they
hatched in. Like all spinners, the tend to congregate at the ends of the pools, the
ends of runs, eddies and at the ends of riffles. After the mayflies die, they will
become spent on the surface.
A down and across presentation, or a direct downstream slack cast may be
needed, especially if the water is very smooth. It depends on the water that they
are trapped in. Most of the time you will be able to get the fly to them properly up
We have had little success in Great Smoky Mountains National Park fishing the
spinner fall during the late afternoons in the early part of the season. We do better
if it is late in the duration of the Blue Quill hatch, after the weather is warmer and it
is very overcast or rainy. Sometimes the Quill Gordon spinners will be mixed in with
them. Blue-winged olives and Little Blue-winged Olive spinners may also be present.
This takes a light, long leader and tippet, and a careful presentation. Since
spinners float spent, flush with the surface, there is nothing protruding above the
water to help you spot them. The best way to catch the spinner fall is to continue to
look up and check for the mating activity. The males will fall in a matter of minutes,
although sometimes, especially if it is windy, they will fall on the banks. It is usually
not long before the female begin to deposit their eggs. If you have a surface skim
net, you can simply check the water later in the afternoon. You will probably be
surprised at what you will find. We have had a net full of Quill Gordons, BWOs and
Blue Quill spinners before without being able to see any of them on the water.
Remember, this is usually late in the day after the sun has fell below the horizon.
Also, remember the park fishing hours.
Copyright 2010 James Marsh
Click on Image: Our "Perfect Fly"
Blue Quill spinner is a perfect
imitation of the little mayfly. We use
split tail microfibets, a goose biot
body, a dubbed thorax, soft hackle
for the legs, select hen feathers for
wings, and turkey quill over the