Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (See Below)
2. Mahogany Duns
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies - Summer Stones
4. Slate Drakes
5. Needle Stoneflies
6. Little Yellow Quills
13. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Basics - The Fly - Part 2
Yesterday, I mentioned that at times trout will take just about any fly. This isn't
something unique to the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is
something unique to any small stream with fast pocket water anywhere in the
country. It has nothing to do with the area or section of the country or even the
species of trout. It has to do with the very short, quick glimpse the fish gets of the fly.
I don't want to get technical here, but if the fly is drifting fairly fast on the surface,
and the trout is only a foot deep, the trout will only be able to see the fly in its small
window of vision for less than a second. Outside of that window, it could only see
the part of the fly that is protruding below the surface skim. If the fly is drifting under
the surface, the trout would be able to see it for a few seconds in clear water.
I don't think it would be possible to tie a fly using a small hook with normal fly tying
material that wouldn't eventually catch a trout. In fact, it may do it on the first or
second cast. An angler not very familiar with odds may think he had just tied the
World's best fly. However, they also may cast the same fly for another thousand
cast without catching another trout. It takes data into the very high numbers to be
meaningful in this regard. This type of thing causes anglers to get all kinds of crazy
ideas as to what works and what doesn't work. You see and hear examples of it all
the time. So and so caught three yesterday on a yellow June Bug or a Purple
People Eater fly. Others will copy them and guess what? They will probably catch
something on the same fly if they fish it long enough in fast, pocket water. That type
of information is totally worthless. There could be dozens of reasons one fly
produced at a certain time and won't produce a day or even an hour later. When
you resort to copying the fly others claim to have used successfully, you are really
in sad shape. You need to start all over and learn more about what you are trying to
do. I know that may get close to insulting many of you that are reading this because
that is a very common approach. If so, I am sorry. That sure isn't my intension.
Sometimes the truth hurts.
Nothing I have said so far, means that the fly isn't important in fast water or that it
matters little what fly you use. It just means that trout are easier to fool in fast
water. Again, your success gets down to the odds of just how often this is going to
take a certain fly. There are many other factors involved. The first one I just
mentioned. If the fly is drifting subsurface, the trout get a much better look at it.
They can spot it from several feet away, not in clear focus, but enough to observe it
until it is within clear focus and then determine if they want to eat it or ignore it.
The other important thing so many anglers overlook has to do with flies drifting on
the surface in fast pocket water streams. Often the real bugs are not in the fast
water. Often they are in slow moving water adjacent to the fast water or the slow
side of current seams and pockets that don't have a heavily broken surface to
distort their view. In fact, most insects that hatch in the Smokies, hatch in this type of
water, not in the fast water. They may get caught in the fast water before they are
able to depart the surface but often they don't. In these cases, the trout can get a
good look at your imitation or fly. It isn't uncommon for them to reject your fly in
slower moving water. Anglers call that a refusal. If you don't believe me, try catching
trout only out of the slow moving pools in the Smokies. You will soon see what a
refusal is. Most of the time, they will refuse the fly without even moving towards it.
Now if all of the above may seem to be getting too complicated or confusing,
consider this. Every time a trout takes a fly, it does so because it intends to
eat it. There are exceptions to this to do with spawning fish but thats an exception,
not the case. If the trout takes your fly, they take what they see to be something
they want to eat. The more the fly looks like the things the trout are normally
eating at the time, the more they are likely to take it.
I took my grandson to the little trout pond in Cherokee several years ago when he
was about 6 years old. The ponds were full of large trout. Some of them were as
large as 6 pounds and most of them were probably 16 to 20 inches. I was teaching
him to cast a fly but the trout wouldn't take the fly. I changed several times and
nothing seem to work well. Finally, I got smart. I went to the owners and got a hand
full of fish pellets they feed the trout with. They were not easy to cast, but when I
could manage to keep one on the hook, it didn't hit the water without every trout in
the lake trying to get it. I hooked and Tanner either caught or lost, mostly lost,
several large trout. The trout took what they were used to seeing and eating.
The trout in the Smokies will do the same exact thing. The key is to determine
what they are seeing and eating the most.
Several years ago, a fine writer and angler wrote the book "Matching the Hatch".
During the next few year, It changed the way many anglers fished for trout. Many
other books followed and anglers begin to fish differently. There was one major
problem that occurred along the way. Some writers begin take this to the point
that they attempted to classify trout by placing them in one of two categories -
opportunistic feeders or selective feeders. Opportunistic feeders refers to those
trout that eat whatever they can find to eat. Selective feeders are those trout that
are concentrating on one particular item of food at a particular time. These writers
implied that when trout are feeding, they are only feeding one of those two ways.
That usually isn't the case at all.
In that sense, from a technical standpoint, all trout are opportunistic feeders. This
line of thinking can be very misleading. A trout will simply feed on what is most
available and easiest to acquire. They don't do this using the same type of
intelligence we use. They are not smart. Their brain is the size of a pea. They do it
because it's the way they can acquire the most food by expending the least amount
of energy. It's a matter of survival.
This shouldn't be taken as to mean that if a large hatch is taking place, all of the
trout will only eat that one insect at that one stage of life. It may be that most of
them are doing that, but even so, they may not do it exclusively. I have watched
trout deviate from feeding (selectively in the sense the word should be used) on
one hatching insect to eat something different on numerous occasions. It also
doesn't mean that trout located a few yards downstream are doing the same thing.
They may be eating something completely different.
It may be that multiple hatches are occurring and the trout are feeding on several
insects at the same time. It also doesn't mean that during the times there's isn't a
hatch occurring, and this is most always the case, that the trout will eat any and
everything they see or have the opportunity to eat. They will still focus on what
is most available and the easiest to acquire. In the small streams of the
Smokies, It's usually nymphs and larvae. It isn't any and every nymph or larvae in
the stream. Again, it's the ones that are most plentiful and available at the time.
For example, right now there are few mayfly nymphs in the water. Most of them have
hatched and are either eggs or tiny, tiny nymphs. There are only a few insects that
remain at or near their fully grown size that haven't hatched. That greatly reduces
the possibilities of what the trout may be feeding on. I can continue to reduce
the list of possibilities down to only a few things but I'll get into this more in the near
future. For now, I only want to make the point that the fly you use should
imitate the food that is the most plentiful and easiest food for the trout to
acquire. Doing so will increase your odds of success.
New "Perfect Fly" Section On What A Few Of Our Customers Have To
Say About Our Flies:
We just added this to our website and thought some of you may be interested.
We are obviously proud of our success with our Perfect Flies.
Copyright 2010 James Marsh