Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Green Sedges (Caddis)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Little Sister Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
5. LIght Cahills
6. Little Short-horned Sedges
7. American March Browns
8. Pale Evening Duns
9. Giant Black Stoneflies
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies
11. Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
12. Inch Worms
Visit Our Booth May 14 and 15 At Troutfest 2011
Stoneflies - A Huge, Confusing Mess For Many
In order to understand Little Yellow Stoneflies (my next group of aquatic insects that
are hatching in the Smokies to write about) you need to be familiar with the nine
different families of stoneflies. The reason is the common name "Little Yellow
Stonefly", or the even more confusing use of the term "Yellow Sally", doesn't
necessarily relate to the color of the stoneflies.
Families of Stoneflies:
First of all, the use of "Yellow" in the name refers to the adult stonefly, not the
nymph. Secondly, some common names of families like the "Little Brown Stoneflies"
have species that are yellow and many "Little Green Stonefly" family species are
yellow. Some "Little Yellow stoneflies" are not yellow, rather brown and green.
If you are not confused, you should be. That's the problem with using common
names of insects rather than scientific names. However, the scientific names
are just as or even more confusing to anglers as the common names.
Why is this important? For one reason, anglers often fish the wrong color of fly, at
the wrong time of day and in all the wrong places. This is a huge problem with the
Little Yellow Stoneflies including those that are Yellow sallies. Yellow Sally and
most all Little Yellow Stonefly nymphs are brown, not yellow.
Hundreds of fly shops across the nation sell Yellow Sally and Little Yellow stonefly
nymphs that are yellow. I won't say they don't work occasionally. I am saying it
greatly reduces the odds of catching trout during a Little Yellow Stonefly
hatch. You may wonder why this happens. The answer is unbelievably that most fly
shop owners don't know the difference. In fact, the company that sells more flies to
fly shops than anyone, Rainy's, a wholesale company based in Utah, sells most all
of the fly shops yellow (not the correct brown color) nymphs that are supposed to
imitate Little Yellow Stoneflies including those that are Yellow Sally stoneflies.
You may wonder how that's possible. The answer is probably that the owners and
managers of Rainy's flies probably don't know the difference. If they do, they sure
don't mind fooling the anglers that buy their flies. Probably the main reason is
that their flies are tied in Thiland by tiers who probably don't know a
stonefly from a Billy Goat. I seriously doubt these people have ever seen a
stonefly or a trout. Rainy's loves to promote their flies by using the names of guys
that are well known to anglers, but as far as I know, none of the flies are tied by
There's another major problem with this and it's not only a problem with
stoneflies, but all aquatic insects in the Smokies and the entire Southeastern United
States. It's the lack of eduction and lack of information available about the subject.
Whereas hundreds of books have been written on aquatic insects in the Northeast,
New England, and Mid-Atlantic states, none have been written for the Southeast.
Almost every state in the areas mentioned above as well as the Mid-western US
and the Western US have books written about the aquatic insects of each specific
state. Some states have several books written about the insects in their trout waters.
Even in the generic books about trout fishing in the Smokies and other areas of the
Southeastern US, what little is written about the insects is almost worthless. What
they do like to write about is old fly patterns of the Davy Crocket era. That too is
worthless except from a history standpoint and causes anglers to begin to think
trout eat a menu of hair and feathers. These authors downplay the importance
of knowing what the trout eat and how you can best imitate it in order to
cover up their own lack of knowledge of the insects. What little they do write
about insects includes only a small portion of what's really in the streams and that is
in fact just copied from one book to the next. When it comes to caddisflies, what
tiny bit is written is laughable - trout eat the brown ones, the green one, etc. They
remind me of kindergarten books- Jake has a yellow ball and Jane has a red ball.
Tomorrow, I will get into a simple, easy way to recognize the different stonefly
families and eliminate most all of the confusion created by - to be completely
frank and forthright, ignorance on the subject.
How Stoneflies Hatch:
The other thing that confuses many anglers that's far more important than the
particular types of stoneflies is understanding how they hatch, meaning how they
go about changing from a nymph to an adult fly. Talking to customers about flies, it
often becomes obvious to me that both of these things (families and how stoneflies
hatch) are not understood.
Just yesterday, I talked to a customer purchasing flies for the Smokies that thought
the Little Yellow Stoneflies hatched in the afternoon. All stoneflies hatch during
the night. It's extremely rare for a stonefly nymph to hatch during daylight hours.
Secondly, all stoneflies crawl out of the water to hatch. They do not hatch in
the water like most mayflies. They crawl out of the water as a nymph and then
change into an adult. Some species may crawl a few feet up into the woods as a
nymph before they hatch into adults. Unless you are checking the banks and
boulders of a stream with a flashlight at night, you will probably never see this
The only time a stonefly gets on the water after it hatches or becomes a fly is when
the females deposit their eggs, or the males happen to fall in the water and die.
This too is very rare. Some stoneflies can live for up to a month after
hatching. They usually die in the bushes and trees and fall on land.
What this means to you as an angler trying to imitate the stoneflies is that you
should fish an imitation of the nymph just prior to the hatch, and an
imitation of the adult only when the females are laying eggs.
The Little Yellow, Needle Stoneflies and Golden stoneflies are the only ones that
your apt to find depositing their eggs in the day in the Smokies, and then it's usually
late in the day or very early in the morning. The lower the available light, the more
likely this is to occur during daylight hours.
2011 James Marsh