Basics of Fly Fishing - Trout Food Series - Mayflies - Part 18

The little Blue Quill duns can be spotted drifting around in circles in eddies, floating
inches from the banks, in small pools behind boulders and rocks, at the tail ends of
big pools and sometimes, in the current seams. It all depends on the temperature
and how fast they can get airborne. You want find many in the fast water runs and
riffles. Now, I should qualify that when it comes to riffles to be technically correct.

Riffles are shallow areas of the stream where the water flows over and through
rocks. If you examine any riffle, you will see fast areas of water flowing between the
rocks and slow areas of water or tiny pockets behind the rocks. In some case, if the
water is high enough, all of the water is flowing over all of the rocks. You will
sometimes find the little Blue Quills hatching in the tiny pockets behind the rocks but
not anywhere else in riffles. The Blue Quills will hatch in the miniature pools behind
rocks and the duns will sometimes get caught in the faster water of the riffles. Riffles
are not the ideal place to be fishing a Blue Quill hatch. You should fish the slow to
moderate areas of the stream.

The methods and rigging should be the same as I just finished writing about with the
early season Blue-winged Olives. The trout can get a very good look at your fly and
of course, your fly line (if you aren't careful), leader and tippet. You want to use a
longer, lighter leader and tippet. I normally use a 9 foot leader with a 6X tippet. You
want to be able to make longer cast than you normally would fishing the fast water
of the runs and riffles.

As with the BWOs, getting a drag free drift is a problem when you cast over fast
water into the slow water areas the Blue Quills are hatching in. I try to avoid that all
together but sometimes, it is the only choice. In those cases you just have to make
some very good slack line presentations to give your fly the opportunity to drift a
few seconds drag free. The best procedure, is to slip up behind large boulders
where you can get close enough to the areas they hatch to keep your fly line out of
the fast water. When there are areas along the banks that the Blue Quills are
hatching (a very common situation), it is best to stay on the bank several feet away
from the edge of the water and cast to those areas of the stream close to the bank.
The problem with that is the banks have to be clear of trees and bushes and there
are not many places in the Smokies that fit that criteria.

I'll post our "Perfect Fly" Blue Quill Dun again since I didn't mention anything about
it yesterday. As with all our smaller mayfly duns (non-drakes), the abdomen is made
of turkey or goose biots, depending on the hook size.
Blue Quills are a hook size
and goose biots are used. The tails are microfibbets that are split and match
the actual number of the species, three in the Blue Quill case. The thorax is
dubbed. The wings consist of two split hen feathers, separated and slanted back
like the real ones. The legs are imitated by parachute styled rooster hackle. They
look like real little Blue Quill duns. Blue Quills are not all that beautiful. They are
darker bodied little drab mayflies that are not very colorful. When you place one of
these flies in the right area of the stream during a Blue Quill hatch and allow it to
drift a few seconds without drag on a long light tippet, you can count on one thing.
A trout will grab it. The more any fly looks and acts like the real things, the higher
your odds of success.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh
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