Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Blue-winged Ollives (Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4. Blue Quills
5. Quill Gordons
6. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
7. Little Brown Stoneflies
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
"K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series - Blue Quills - Part 6
Blue Quill Spinners
I explained the process of duns changing into spinners recently when I covered the Quill
Gordons. The same thing takes place with the Blue Quill duns. If your not familiar with the spinner
stage of life of the mayfly, please go back and review this article.
The Blue Quill spinners start appearing above the water within a few hours after a hatch. The
mating process usually takes place late in the afternoons near dark. If it's a cloudy, overcast day,
the spinner fall takes place earlier than it does on clear, sunny days. It can take place in the early
morning but this isn't the normal time. It's also possible it occurs both late in the day and early in
the morning but this would be very unusual. For example, if it's warmer than normal, with air
temperatures in the sixties or seventies, and overcast or cloudy, look for the spinner fall to start
near the end of the hatch late in the afternoon around 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. If it's colder, with air
temperatures in the fifties and low sixties and the skies are clear, look for the spinner fall to start
about the time it gets dark, which is after legal fishing hours in the park.
Like most other mayflies, the little Blue Quills will mate and deposit their eggs in the same type of
water they hatched from. Basically, this is shallower, slow to moderate water near fast water riffles
and runs. These areas are outlined in previous articles under the nymphs and emerger sections
of the Blue Quill articles. Once the mating ends, the males fall in the water and sometimes on the
banks, depending on wind that may affect where they land. A short time after that, the females will
start depositing their eggs.
The best way to determine when the spinner fall is occurring is to keep a close check high above
the stream. The mating swarms of Blue Quills usually take place above head high, and as high as
thirty or forty feet above the water. If your not looking for them you may never notice them. In fact,
since the larger spinner falls occur during low light conditions, you almost have to view the clouds
of mating spinners against some available light or you cannot possibly see them. If the sky is
dark, its sometimes impossible to see them.
When they do fall on the water, you probably will most likely still not be able to see them, even if
your wading the stream in the same area the spinners fall. They are small, hook size 18, spent
spinners (wings will be flat on the water) with clear wings. They are almost impossible to see
floating in the surface skim. As mentioned in the Quill Gordon segment, and even of more
importance with the little Blue Quill spinners, a skim net can be very useful in determining if
spinners are present on the water.
Most often the spinners will be caught up in the faster water and carried downstream to collect
into calmer areas of the stream. They often collect at the ends of long runs and riffles where the
water slows down. A down and across presentation, or a direct downstream slack cast may be
needed, especially if the water is very smooth. The presentation needed depends on the water
that they become trapped in. The trout that feed on the Blue Quill spinners are usually easily
We have had some excellent success in the Smokies fishing the spinner fall during the late
afternoons. We do better if it's later in the season near the end of the Blue Quill hatch when the
weather is usually warmer and it's very overcast or raining. On a few occasions we have found
the trout feeding on the spent spinners in very calm, shallow water in the early morning but so far,
we haven't found that situation in the Smokies. It may very well be that we don't often fish for trout
early in the mornings in late Winter or early Spring.
Sometimes the Quill Gordon spinners will be mixed in with them. Blue-winged olives and Little
Blue-winged Olive spinners may also be present.
Fishing the Blue Quill spinner fall requires a light, long leader and tippet and careful
presentations. The early season Blue Quill hatch can be even more important than the Quill
Gordons that start hatching about the same time of the season. That's because the Blue Quill
hatch usually last longer and there are usually a lot more of them than the Quill Gordons.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
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