Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
Most available/ Near hatching and other types of available food:
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
4. Blue Quills (Nymphs)
5. Blue-winged Olives (Nymphs)
Changes In The Above "List Of Food" and "Flies You Need Now"
I have always listed the insects and other foods trout should be eating at the top of the daily
article page. I'm just now realizing that may not have been very smart on my part. You've heard of
people who can't see the trees for the forest and unfortunately, that may have been my situation
with regards to the list of insects..
At the same time, I have consistently written that it's just as important to know what is about to
hatch as it is to know what's hatching, I've failed to list "what's about to hatch". I continuously write
that you should be imitating the food that's most plentiful and available for the trout to eat at the
particular time and place you're fishing, but except in my strategy articles, I haven't listed those
insects. I have only listed what should be hatching at the time.
Unless someone is very familiar with all the aquatic insects, they would have to go to the trouble
to look at the hatch charts and figure out for themselves "what's about to hatch and
consequently, what's most plentiful and available" Quite frankly, my guess is most anglers that
fish the Smokies are either 1, not that keen on the insects, or 2, not willing to go to the trouble to
do that. They rather just select flies from their box at random and use the old trial and error
method. As mentioned yesterday, some prefer to copy Joe Blow.
Contrary to what many anglers believe and even what some uninformed fly fishing writers have
written in magazine articles and books, trout streams are not full of "drifting" nymphs for the trout
to eat. Those that make that claim have a vision of something that for the most part, just doesn't
exist. They are either copying another ill informed writer or imagining things that just don't exist.
Except for a certain period of time prior to the beginning of a hatch, a trout sitting on the bottom
of a stream in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is going to starve to death if it has to rely on
a nymph drifting by for it to grab and eat. The same thing is true of larvae and other types of trout
For two years, throughout the year, we set nets of all types, from the surface to the bottom and in
all types of water in the streams of the park (as well as numerous other streams through out the
nation) to catch and photograph drifting insects and other food. We had a special permit to do
that. Except for nymphs and larvae of aquatic insects that were within a week or two of hatching,
or during the time an actual hatch was underway, with only a very few insignificant exceptions, the
nets always came up empty.
To make this simple. Unless a hatch is about to take place, you want find nymphs or larvae of
insects drifting down the stream. They stay hidden from the trout as best they can.
There are four basic types of nymphs - swimmers, crawlers, clingers and burrowers. In the
streams of the Smokies, the great majority of aquatic insects are clingers. This includes most of
the mayflies and all of the stoneflies. That's because most of the water consist of fast pocket
water, or fast water runs and riffles Crawlers and swimmer nymphs can only exist in the marginal
areas of slower to moderate flows in this type of water. The clingers prefer the fast water because
they require lots of oxygen. They are basically flat and can actually "cling" to rocks in fast water. If
you have ever tried to pick one up from a rock you would easily understand they can actually grip
the rocks much like a suction cup. In fact, most of them stay underneath the rocks on the bottom
of the fast water, not on top of them. They stay well hidden and with few, rare exceptions are not
available for the trout to eat. Even when they eat, they do so beneath the rocks and within the
cracks of the rocks well out of the reach of trout. Clinger nymphs don't "drift" down the stream. In
fact, very, very little of anything "drifts" down the stream.
I can already hear someone trying to tell me about a "nocturnal" drift or as some call it a
"behavioral" drift. Without going into detail (I won't because it's boring and unimportant) let me
just say that's another thing that mostly exist in the day dreaming minds of writers. What occurs,
occurs mostly in other types of water other than fast water, freestone streams and even then, its
The burrowers are rare in the streams of the Smokies and those that are present stay down in
their burrowers most all the time.
The swimmers and crawlers exist to some extent but in fewer quantities than the clingers. They
are capable of hiding down in the cracks of rocks in the slower areas of water such as pools and
pockets, areas of slower to moderate flows around the banks of the streams, etc.
The swimmers are like minnows. They are mostly the baetis species of BWOs and the fairly
plentiful Slate Drakes. It isn't easy for a trout to catch them and they certainly don't just drift
downstream into the mouth of a trout. From a quantity standpoint, they don't compare at all with
the numbers of clinger nymphs.
There are in reality very few crawler nymphs as compared to the clingers. They exist in isolated
areas of the streams in lower quantities. Also, they are not exact;clumsy nymphs that drift
downstream into the mouths of trout. They too, stay well hidden down in the cracks and crevices
of the rocks, cobble and gravel in the moderate flows..
Except and unless there's a hatch within a week or so of taking place, the odds of catching a trout
on a "drifting" nymph is not much better than attempting to pay you bills by purchasing punch out
cards at the local gas station. The odds are very low. Even prior to a hatch, you should Keep the
fly on the bottom of the stream, irrespective of whether its deep or shallow water. Mid current
presentations work best when there's a hatch actually taking place.
You always have an opportunity to match "what's about to hatch". It's actually very rare that there
isn't anything that's not within a week or two of hatching. Even when the water is extremely cold,
there's midges that hatch and what's called "Little Winter" stoneflies that hatch.
Increasing your fishing success is a matter of increasing your odds of the fish taking your
offering. Unless you do that, you are strictly relying on luck. From now on, I will also be listing
"what's about to hatch and what's most available and plentiful for the trout to eat". I
should have been doing that all along.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh