Hatches Made Easy:
Blue-winged Olives - Nymphs and Emergers
Description of the Nymph:
The blue winged olive nymphs of the Baetidae family are free swimmers. They
vary in color from dark brown to light olive or emerald. All of them are slim,
minnow like nymphs.
If you are fishing waters where populations of the Little Olives occur and there is
no obvious hatch occurring at the time -yet it is the right time of the year for the
hatch to occur, then it may be wise to fish the nymph. Use either the swing style
or a strike indicator depending upon the water. Use added weight of appropriate
size for the depth and current.
This is also a good search pattern to use during the hours preceding a hatch. In
the earliest part of a hatch, you may have better success fishing it as a dropper
below a blue winged olive emerger or dry fly pattern. In fact, the nymphs usually
work even when flies are emerging. Trout seem to prefer eating the nymphs just
prior to their emerging.
Remember, that trout feeding on these small mayflies are not going to go to a lot
of trouble to eat them. They don’t need to. So, generally speaking, you can
avoid the rougher, faster more turbulent waters and concentrate on the
smoother water because that is what the trout will be doing. The tails of pools,
eddies, calm pockets, ends of long runs and other areas of the stream that does
not have fast water.
When you see heads and then tails of trout, they are usually feeding on the
nymphs or emerging nymphs as they near the surface, not duns on the surface.
Most of these mayflies hatch in open water by swimming to the surface and
penetrating the surface film. Many are not able to do so immediately, especially
in calmer water, and the longer it takes, the better it is for the trout. The dun flies
away to nearby stream side vegetation as soon as its wings are dry enough to
For this reason, imitations of the emergers may be important, especially on
smooth flowing waters where they most often emerge. Although emergers work
very well at times, it is important not to fish emerger patterns when they are not
very productive. You may do much better with the nymph. More trout may be
taken on the nymphs that are still rising to begin the emerging process over
those that are in some stage of changing into a winged fly, depending upon the
number of nymphs versus emergers.
Normally you will be presenting the emerger or dun imitations over fairly smooth
water. Trout usually just causally sip the emerging duns and cripples. This
requires a very delicate, more perfect presentation than the normal. You should
use as light of tackle as appropriate, say in the four-weight or lighter line
weights. Five X or six X tippets, two or three feet long on leaders totaling ten to
12 feet long is usually needed.
In many cases an upstream presentation does not work well in this calmer water
and you need to fish either across stream or downstream. Make certain there is
no drag by allowing some slack line. Usually, the extent of your success depends
greatly upon the presentation.
In other cases, where there is smooth water in pockets within larger areas of
rough water, the upstream presentation works very well. If you can get away with
it, fish upstream. You will usually spook less fish.
The Smokies don't have a huge population of these insects. They are only
found in isolated areas of the streams. Long sections of a stream may have very
few baetis species. Some smaller areas of the same stream may have a heavy
concentration. If you are fishing and notice a hatch occurring, you should
certainly fish it. Remember, this is mostly on very overcast, rainy or snowy days.
If our hatch charts show its time for the blue-winged olive hatches and you have
adjusted for weather changes, you should be looking for them.
This is not an easy hatch to fish, so don't be upset if you don't catch trout the
first few attempts.
Coming Up Next:
Blue-winged Olive Duns and Spinners:
Copyright 2008 James Marsh