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 22
As mentioned in previous articles, the Quill Gordons emerge on the bottom, or
between the bottom and the surface, and reach the surface as fully developed
duns. They shake their wings and get them dry enough to depart the water as soon
as possible, but because they hatch in fairly cold water (50 degrees), they tend to
drift on the surface for long time compared to many other mayflies.
When the water is at that temperature, the trout are not very active. You will have
some trout that will take the duns from the surface, but nothing in comparison to
those that eat them below the surface. Most anglers prefer to catch them on the
surface and therefore stick with the dry fly. I know many who fish nothing else but a
dry fly during the hatch. I also know many that fail to catch trout consistently
because of that.
Fishing an imitation of the nymph for the few days leading up to the start of the
hatch, in the areas where the nymphs move to hatch, can be very effective. I went
over that yesterday. Once the hatch actually gets under way, and the mayflies
begin to emerge, the trout will take most of them on the bottom, or somewhere
between the bottom and the surface. That's where the wet fly does a good job of
imitating the emerging duns. That's what we call our mayfly patterns that imitate
those few species that hatch on the bottom or in the water column - a wet dun.
I first picked up on this by fishing a generic soft hackle fly a few years ago when I
failed to get any action on the surface. I could see the Quill Gordon duns on the
surface occasionally, and see them flying around, but the trout didn't seem
interested in my dry fly imitation. That is what lead me to develop the "Perfect Fly"
This represents about my tenth attempt to get the fly to behave and look like I
thought it should. It has been very effective in imitating the Quill Gordons during the
hatch on many Eastern streams from the Smokies to New England. We have
versions of it to match the Gray Winged Yellow Quill, Slate Duns and Yellow Quills.
The Slate Duns and Yellow Quills are the Quill Gordons (Eperous species) of the
Western States. It has also proved very effective on many Western streams.
The fly has either a goose or turkey biot body, depending on the hook size,
partridge tails and legs with a deer hair strapped back secured with gold wire. The
wings are two split hen feathers. I use the deer hair to add some buoyancy to the
fly, to assist in bringing it back to the surface. The ladies that tie our flies helped get
the wings right and fly perfected like I wanted it.
We add a large enough split shot about six inches above the fly to get it down to the
bottom in the slow water of the pockets. The best way to fish it, is to slip up on the
quite areas of water (pockets) behind the boulders and make a short up or up and
across cast. You want to get as close as possible without spooking any trout
feeding in the current seams on either side of the pocket. Let it sink and then swing
it around into the current seam using the tip of your rod. When it gets in the current
seam, raise the rod tip slowly back up high enough to get the fly to come back up to
the surface. This is not much different from the way we suggest you fish the nymph
imitations of the Quill Gordons. You just don't bring the nymphs back to the surface.
You may also want to fish the long runs, provided they leave from areas where the
Quill Gordons are likely to hatch. These mayflies can drift several feet in cold water.
In that case, we prefer to fish the fly on the swing like a soft hackle or a caddis
pupae fly. Cast it up and across the runs and allow it to swing all the way down and
across. When it gets near the end of the drift, stop the rod tip and allow the fly to
come back up to the surface. This works sometimes, but usually not nearly as
effective as fishing the pockets.
If you move in an upstream direction, casting the fly into all the pockets, and
bringing it back up to the surface in the current seams of each side of the pockets,
you will eventually connect to a hungry trout feeding on the emerging duns.
Remember, this is effective only when the Quill Gordons are hatching. If you see or
hear trout taking flies from the surface, then you may want to change to a dry fly.
Otherwise, you will find this fly far more effective. This is especially true during the
first part of the season's hatch when the water is still cold. I will get into to fishing dry
fly imitations of the duns tomorrow.
Copyright 2010 James Marsh