Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies (Capniidae/Taeniopterygidae)
3. Blue-winged Ollives (Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4. Blue Quills
5. Quill Gordons
6. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
Most available/ Near hatching and other types of available food:
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part 30
Our hatch chart for the streams of Great Smoky Mountains shows the Blue Quills starting to hatch
by mid-February, or today the 14th. Like all hatch charts should, that's suppose to have a
cushion in it that covers hatches that occur earlier than normal. It shows the Quill Gordons
starting to hatch the beginning of the third week of February. This year, the Blue Quills, Quill
Gordons and BWO mayflies needed the cushion the chart shows and in the case of some low
elevation streams, it wasn't quite early enough.
The Blue-winged Olives will be around for sure but they will vary from the larger hook size 18
Baetis brunnicolor species to different species of Acentrella, Diphetor, and other mayflies lumped
under the catch all Blue-winged Olive name. The larger Baetis species are very much worth
imitating, even when Quill Gordons and Blue Quills are hatching, but they usually appear along
with the Blue Quills in the more moderate and slow flows of the streams. You should just keep an
eye out for them and be prepared to fish the hatch if you spot them hatching in good quantities.
By the way, many anglers cannot easily distinguish them from the Blue Quills which are about the
same size. It isn't easy until you have good lighting conditions and that's exactly what you don't
want for good hatches of either of the two species.
I've gone ahead and moved the Quill Gordons up a week on the above list of foods the trout
should be eating from what's shown on the hatch chart because I think that by near the end of
this week, they will begin to hatch in most areas of the lower and possibly even mid elevations of
the park. Those that hatched in the lowest ends of some streams probably continued to hatch
even after the weather turned cold during the past few days.
The two families of Little Winter Stoneflies (Capniidae and Taeniopterygidae) really exploded
during the last couple of weeks and hatches were common just about everywhere in the park.
That will continue, at least from an egg laying standpoint, then dwindle down through March.
Don't worry though, the larger Little Brown stoneflies will start to hatch and like everything else
this year, probably earlier than normal.
There's two different caddisflies that will start to hatch soon, but one of them, the Chimarra
species, has yet to prove to me to be of much concern to the trout. They are not only tiny, their
pupae don't emerge into adults in the water, rather on the rocks. Some anglers in other parts of
the country say they (aterrima species)are worth imitating but so far, I haven't been able to
determine if the ones in the Smokies are the same species. So far, they have only served to
confuse many anglers thinking they are of the (Brachycentrus) species of Little Black Caddis.
These are larger hook size 18 caddisflies that emerge much like most mayflies and are eaten by
trout often in preference to the Blue Quills and Quill Gordons, depending on the size of the hatch.
These are easy to identify in their larva stage of life. They are the ones that live in the little neatly
built wooden cases shaped like a chimney. They are plentiful in most all the mid to low elevation
streams in the park.'
By the way, for those of you who are ignoring the many species of insects that are about to hatch
and/or a little confused with all the different ones, please be advised our new "K. I. S. S. Bug
Series of articles will hopefully, make this as simply as apple pie. I will be covering all of
the insects above between the weekly strategy articles. It has been unseasonably warm the entire
Winter so far, and the long range forecast call for that trend to continue. By the way, this warm
spell isn't just happening in the Smokies. It's taking place throughout most of the nation and it's
going to affect trout streams from coast to coast. That caught me a little off guard and behind
where I should be with the KISS (Keep it simple stupid) series but that's the story of my life.
The Good News and the Bad News:
The bad news is there will be what's called multiple hatches occurring during the next few
weeks. That makes it more difficult to have a good strategy. Most anglers get into high gear for
the Quill Gordons, and while there's nothing wrong with that, they sometimes end up
disappointed. The Blue Quills and BWO hatches aren't exactly easy to fish. The Little Black
Caddis hatch beats them all at times but most anglers ignore it and worse, don't know how to fish
The good news is that the Quill Gordons are large mayflies, much easier to see and best of all,
can at times be found drifting downstream near the ends of the fast water runs and riffles looking
like little sailboats at a distance . You can sometimes make a sloppy cast and find that a good
size brown or rainbow trout literally clobbers your imitation of the dun. White that's about as
exciting as it gets, it sometimes doesn't work out quite that way.
Some of you that don't know areas of the streams where they normally hatch may end up fishing
sections of water void of Quill Gordons. More frequently, when the water temperatures are
marginal for surface action and the trout are eating the emerging duns between the bottom
(where they emerge into duns) and the surface of the water, the dry fly imitation of the dun fails to
work. In fact, in my opinion, it's actually always the case that more of the naturals are eaten below
the surface than on the surface. However, when the water is on the cool side of about 50
degrees, the trout can become even more prone to eat the emerging duns.
I developed a Perfect Fly pattern for the emerging dun a few years ago. I first called it a Wed Dun
and then changed the name to an Emerging Adult. It not only works great for the Quill Gordon but
different versions of it works the other three common species within the same genera. It has
become a very popular fly to use when the Quill Gordons are hatching yet a little reluctant to take
an imitation of the dun from the surface.
The Strategy Article will continue tomorrow:
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
"Perfect Fly" Quill Gordon Emerging Adult
Thumbnail Image: Click for a larger size