Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Giant Black Stoneflies - hatching
3.   Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
4    Light Cahills - hatching
5.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
6.   Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
7.   American March Browns - hatching but randomly in isolated locations
8.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
9.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
10. Green Sedges - hatching
11. Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
12. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
13. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
14. Golden Stonefly - hatching
15. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
16. Slate Drakes - hatching

Slate Drakes - Nymphs:

The Slate Drake nymph should be one of the most important aquatic insects to
imitate in any of the streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The are
plentiful; they are accessible for the trout to eat year-round; and they represent a
good part of the trout's diet.

The nymph is by far the most important stage of life of the Slate Drake. They can
hatch anytime from about the last part of May until the middle of September. This is
an extremely long hatch period. They are not bi-brooded. They just hatch off and
on during that long period of time. It is not possible to predict the peaks in the
hatches during that time. You just have to look for them and be aware they may
hatch anytime from Spring to Fall.

These mayflies don't hatch in the water. They hatch on the banks and boulders.  
After the nymphs reach the boulders and/or banks of the stream, they crawl out of
the water and emerge into duns. You can see evidence of the hatch by finding
their nymphal shucks on logs, banks and rocks without ever seeing the duns..

Our "Perfect Fly" Slate Drake Nymph should be fished in pockets near the banks
and behind rocks and boulders. You should allow them to drift naturally, but
imparting short erratic stripping motions to them would better imitate the action. You
should use a stripping action to imitate the swift darts of this excellent swimming
nymph. By stripping action, I don't mean 5 to 12 inch strips. I mean 1 or 2 inch
strips. Just a twitch of the line imparted by using your non-rod hand is all that is
necessary. In this case the fly should be only slightly weighted.

The “down and across” method works well in the shallow water the nymphs move to
crawl out of the water. Getting close to the fish feeding on the nymphs is usually not
an option. It requires cast that are longer than normal.

When there is no hatch occurring, meaning most of the time, a heavier weighted fly
works best. It should be fished in the runs and riffles the nymphs live in.  You should
use the standard nymphing methods that are effective in the Smokies. We have
covered the "high-stickin" method of nymphing in a previous articles.

Our "Perfect Fly" Slate Drake Nymph has a lot of built-in action. It has a marabou
tail and abdomen, dubbed thorax with Turkey wing pad and
partridge legs.

Copyright James Marsh 2009