Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3. Great Autumn Brown Caddisfly
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Part Two - What's important about knowing the types of nymphs -
New Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trout Food Series
Yesterday, I wrote something like:
These different types of nymphs that have been put into four basic classifications,
have evolved over thousands of years to live in different types of water with
regards to current strength, types of bottom, and the food that's available for
the particular type of nymph to eat.
The short time leading up to the time a mayfly or a stonefly hatches is by far the
most likely time for it to be eaten by a trout. Most mayflies have to come out of their
hiding places and make it to the surface of the water to hatch. Often they have to
change locations within the stream to find the right type of water depths and flows to
hatch. Some mayflies and all stoneflies crawl out of the water to hatch. Either way,
hatching puts them all in a very susceptible situation, directly exposed to hungry
The next most likely time for trout to be able to eat nymphs is when they come out
from their hiding places to feed. This is usually during low light situations and often
at nighttime. Swimmers can do this by using their speed to escape predators.
Clingers can do this beneath rocks and in the crevices of rocks without being overly
exposed to trout. Crawlers are far more likely to be eaten when they are feeding.
They have trouble escaping hungry trout. That's why their survival rate is much
lower than other types of mayflies and why large numbers are necessary for just a
few to survive to sustain the species.
The third most likely time for them to be eaten by trout is anytime they are not well
hidden. The ones that have the most trouble hiding in the fast water, freestone
streams of the Smokies are number one - the swimmers and number two, the
crawlers. This is one reason why there are fewer of them than the clingers.
1.If a particular mayfly or stonefly is getting close to its hatch time, let's just say
"within a week" of the time it should hatch, for purposes of illustration, or
2. If the particular mayfly or stonefly has already started hatching,
you have much higher than normal odds of catching trout on an imitation of that
nymph. If you know the type of nymph it is, you can pinpoint the type of
water they will be in, and/or the area of the stream they will be in. We
haven't gotten to it yet, but you will also be able to determine just how the particular
nymph goes about hatching so you can closely imitate their behavior. You can
eliminate much of the water in a stream and refine you methods of
presentation. To get straight to the point, if you figure this out, you can catch a lot
of trout in a short time.
If there aren't any stoneflies or mayflies hatching, or getting near the time they
should hatch, then your highest odds will be imitating the ones that are easiest for
the trout to acquire. That will usually be the swimmers first and foremost, and the
crawlers, secondly. However, it also greatly depends on the time of year. For
example, if it's during July, most of the crawler mayflies will have already hatched for
the year. If so, they may only exist in the egg stage of life, or as tiny, immature
nymphs. In that case, the remaining swimmer species that haven't hatched and are
near their final larvae stage would be the ones most likely to be eaten by trout. I am
not trying to tell you how to go about determining which insects to match
for you highest odds at this point in this series. We are a long way from being
able to do that at this early stage. I am only trying to explain why knowing which
type of nymph is most likely to be eaten by trout at the particular time you are
fishing, is important.
Each of the different types of nymphs live in different types of water within the
streams of the Smokies. Each of them have preferred types of water to move to, or
out of the water from, when they hatch. When you know the details of how, when
and where each of these different types (and later, each of the different species) of
mayflies and stoneflies live and hatch into adults, you can accurately imitate their
behavior and greatly increase your odds of catching trout.
There's one more important element to this that I will mention. We will get into the
details of it later. The different types of mayfly nymphs look different from each
other. For example, a Blue Quill crawler nymph looks about as much like a March
Brown clinger nymph as a Buffalo looks like an Elk. A BWO swimmer nymph
resembles a Quill Gordon nymphs about as well as a billy goat resembles a milk cow.
As long as the different generic nymphs get caught up in fast moving water, and the
trout have only a fraction of a second to view them, the trout may sometimes take a
poor imitation for something that's frequently passing through their view that they
are feeding on. If the particular nymph being used doesn't resemble the insects they
are feeding and the nymph isn't in fast water, they will most likely ignore it. For
example, if Blue-winged Olive mayflies are getting ready to hatch in the slow to
moderate water of shallow pockets and marginal water along the banks, and you
are using a fat bulky Hairs Ear Nymph to imitate them, you can be assured the trout
won't be fooled. They will most likely ignore it. I am not knocking the Hares Ear
Nymph. It's about the best generic nymph I know of. What I am saying is that they
wouldn't be effective in this particular scenario as well as many other types of
situations. They imitate crawler nymphs much better. They don't resemble swimming
nymphs or clinger nymphs at all.
So, to summarize why it's important to know the type of nymph you are trying to
imitate is important, is first of all, it tells you a lot about where to find them or
the areas of the stream the trout are looking for them in. Trout know the areas of
the stream to look for these different nymphs just as well as you know where to get
your next good streak or seafood. They know when to look for a particular type of
nymph just as well as you know when to look for home grown tomatoes at a market.
They live every minute of their life discovering and examining these things. They
have to in order to survive.
When you are fishing for trout, using a generic nymph not having much of a
clue about what you are really trying to imitate, you are in about the same
situation a blind squirrel looking for an acorn is in. The blind squirrel may get
lucky and find a pile of acorns. It may also spend the entire day and not find the first
Copyright 2010 James Marsh
Slate Drake Nymph (Swimmer)
March Brown Nymph (Clinger)
Do these different types of mayfly nymphs resemble each other? Do you
think one fly would imitate both of these well? What isn't showing - the
Slate Drake is round and the March Brown is flat