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. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies
11. Little Green Stoneflies
12. Golden Stoneflies
13. Slate Drakes
14. Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
15. Inch Worms
Slate Drake Mayfly
The Slate Drake has many different common names. It's usually called the Slate
Drake but also a Slate Winged Dun, Dun Variant, Leadwing coachman' and in the
Smokies, sometimes a Mahogany Dun. The body of the dun is a mahogany color,
but it isn't a Mahogany Dun. That name should be for species of the
Papaleptophlebia genus, a big name for a group of mayflies that the Blue Quill
belong to. The Mahogany Duns are for those species of that genus, such as the
debilis that hatch in the Summer and Fall.
As strange as this sounds, the dun itself is worthless for trout food. They never get
into the water unless they accidentally fall or get blown into the water by high winds.
The nymph of this mayfly crawls out of the water to hatch into a dun. This mayfly is
only important in the nymphal and spinner stages of life. Now that I have said that,
let me also say you will find fly shops selling imitations of the duns. The reason is
obviously, they are not aware that the duns of this mayfly (with the exception I
stated above) is never found in the water. The fly companies that have this fly tied,
which includes most all the wholesale fly companies that sell to fly shops, are
obviously not aware of this. Sounds like I bashing them, doesn't it? Yes I am. It
shows how little they know about the insects they sell flies to imitate.
The nymphs of the Slate Drake mayfly are swimmers. They are almost always
available for trout to eat. They hide behind anything they can find to keep from
being eaten, but their main way of avoiding being eaten is the short burst of speed
that they are capable of. They dart around much more like a small minnow than a
Just so those that know their insects understand exactly which mayfly I am referring
to, the Slate Drake belongs to the Isonychia genus of the Siphlonuridae family of
mayflies. The most important species is the bicolor. It's a very common mayfly.
The name, bicolor, comes from the nymph's legs that are bi-colored. They alternate
from cream to dark brown. The common name "Leadwing" used by some comes
from the lead color of the flies’ wings. This is also where the name "slate" came
from. The wings are a dark, slate color.
This mayfly can hatch from spring until fall, but is very sporadic throughout that
long period of time. This makes it difficult to pin the exact times down. When they do
hatch, the hatch can very be prolific.
Hatches usually occur late in the afternoon and sometimes into the evenings but if
it's cloudy or rainy, it will occur occasionally during the day. That said, remember
that these mayflies crawl out of the water on the banks and on boulders and rocks
to hatch. That's when you need an imitation of the nymph in the water near the
banks and boulders.
You will find their shucks along the banks after a hatch. You will often see a lot of
shucks where they hatched out of the water. This is a big tip. It means a spinner fall
is going to occur. Trout do eat the large spinners.
I'll get into the details of how you fish the nymphs and spinners starting tomorrow.
2011 James Marsh
Side View of the
Top view of the Nymph
View of what you don't
need an imitation of -
The Slate Drake Dun