Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Black Winter Stoneflies
3. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
Basics of Fly Fishing - Trout Food Series - Sculpin - Lesson 30
These are common names for the Cottus bairdii (mottled) , and the Cottus carolinae
(banded). These are little brown and olive brown fish that live on the bottom of the
streams in the Smokies. They probably average from three to six inches long. The
Great Smoky Mountains National Park contain two of the three species found in
Tennessee. I am not sure about North Carolina, as I haven't found any information
on the species there other than those in the park.
I had the opportunity to see the guts of some large rainbow trout from the Madison
River one time. A man was cleaning several 16 to 18 inch trout he had caught on
live salmonfly nymphs. I watched as he pulled as many sculpin from their insides as
he did salmonfly nymphs. I did ask him if live bait was legal in that particular section
of the Madison River, and he just looked at me. His van was a few feet away with
two riffles in it, in addition to his fillet knife, so I ended the conversation. I did inform
the guys in two fly shops in West Yellowstone about it, who promised to report it to
the Montana game wardens. There must have been at least a half dozen sculpin in
the trout I watched him open up. That was enough to convenience me of their
We have caught several sculpin in our insect nets in the Smokies. That isn't an
easy thing to do and wasn't deliberate, they just happened to be in there when we
picked them up out of the water. These little fish are almost impossible to see on
the bottom. You could be looking right at one and not see it because they blend
right in with the rocks. The one below came from Little River and was stranded in a
pot hole during low water of the drought. I think I saved its life.
We have several imitations of them at Perfect Fly. Our most popular one is the
Brown Sculpin:. The White Belly Sculpin:
We also have three Marabou Sculpin, a Yellow, White and Black version shown
here: There are also Muddler Sculpin and Black
Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin flies.
We have a new, slightly different Brown Sculpin fly that I have yet to put on our site.
It is more of a rusty or redish brown sculpin that will be introduced soon. Of course,
these are all streamer flies. In the case of the sculpin streamer flies, there is one
thing that's very important when you are presenting them. You should keep them on
the bottom of the stream. That's where trout are used to seeing them, not up in the
We don't add weight to the fly because it takes away from the action and natural
movement of the fly. That would also, in effect, predetermine the depth of water it
should be used in. We prefer that anglers add weight to the tippet a few inches from
the fly. This lets you adjust the weight to help keep the fly on the bottom, plus it
helps by allowing the fly to act more like the naturals. It also helps prevent hangups.
It allows the fly to float or drift just off the bottom, whereas a weighted fly tends to
keep the fly (hook) right on the bottom.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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