Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1.    Midges
2.    Little Winter Stoneflies (Capniidae/Taeniopterygidae)
3.    Blue-winged Ollives (
Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4.    Blue Quills
5.    Quill Gordons
6.    Little Black Caddis (

Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)

"K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series - Quill Gordon - Part 6:
Quill Gordon Duns

Since this is the first mayfly in the K.I.S.S. series, let me make sure everyone understands what a
dun is. When the nymph emerges from the water as an adult mayfly (and can fly off the water to
the trees and bushes along the stream), anglers call this stage of the mayfly a "dun". Scientist
call this stage the subimago. The mayfly will later change into what the scientist call the imago
and anglers call the spinner. We will get into the spinner stage of the Quill Gordon later. This
article is about the Quill Gordon dun.

As described in the previous parts of the series on Quill Gordon emergers, the duns normally
reach the surface of the water in the fast runs. There are other places the duns emerge.
Sometimes they will get caught up in the slower water of the pockets and sometimes they will
emerge in the deeper riffles. In the Smokies, most often they emerge in the runs. Depending on
the length of the run and the speed of the water, they normally are on the surface drying their
wings near the end of the runs.

Just how quickly the duns fly off the water to nearby bushes and trees depends on the
temperature and weather conditions. Normally, it only takes a few seconds from the time they
reach the surface until they can fly but under adverse conditions, it can take up to a minute or
two. In real adverse conditions, the duns cannot open and dry their wings enough to fly. These
mayflies are called "cripples".

One good thing about the Quill Gordon Duns is that they are large enough to see fairly easy. It's
also fairly easy to tell when the trout are taking them from the surface. You can often see and
hear the trout taking the duns from the surface.

A good way to know your placing your fly in the right areas of the runs is to present it in such as
way as it is drifting downstream with the little bubbles on the surface of the water. The current
tends to congregate the bubbles in the path of least resistance and usually, that's where you will
find the duns drifting downstream.

As mentioned before, the Quill Gordons normally hatch when the water temperature of the stream
reaches about 50 degrees for two or three days. Again, this is only a rough rule of thumb. This
can vary depending on the overall average water temperature during the past few months and
the status of the development of the nymphs. If the Quill Gordons are hatching and  the water is
much lower than 50 degrees, the odds of the trout taking the duns from the surface is lower than
it is if the water is above that temperature. This is only a very general rule, not a cut and dry hard
rule. The trout are just a little more reluctant to take them from the surface when the water is on
the cold side of that, especially since they can acquire the helpless emerging duns easier  
beneath the surface. If you can see the Quill Gordons hatching and they are not taking your dry
fly imitation of the dun, chances are good you will catch more trout using a wet fly imitation of the
emerging dun. You just have to weigh the odds against your preference of fishing methods. It is
exciting to see a good size trout clobber your dun imitation on the surface. My friend Roland
Martin coined the phrase for bass fishing "that's what it's all about" and in the case of trout taking
Quill Gordon duns from the surface, in many angler's opinion, the same phrase works equally as
well for trout.

The same slightly up and across method of presentation as outlined for the Emerging Dun fly in
yesterday's article works for the dry fly imitation of the dun with this exception. You don't need to
cast the fly in the pockets, or the slow to moderate water they begin to emerge from. Cast it at the
heads of the runs and deep riffles where you see the duns emerging on the surface. It's best to
use a reach cast to put a little slack in your line but make sure you cast far enough above the
rising trout to have time to mend your line if it's needed to get a good drag free drift. You want to
make sure your fly is drifting naturally with the current like the real mayflies, not dragging across
the current leaving a wake. I'm not going to get into any detail about the techniques of making
good presentations and getting good drifts. Those are subjects beyond the scope of the K.I.S.S.
A Bug Series.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Thumbnail Image: Click for a larger view
The "Perfect Fly" Quill Gordon Duns
are far more imitative of the real
mayflies than any of the fly shop
versions. They all use the parachute
style of hackle because it does a
much better job of imitating the legs of
a mayfly than vertically wound hackle
that extends in the water unnaturally,
in only one area in relationship to the
fly's body. The parachute style also
drifts in the water in a more realistic
manner with a lower, more natural
profile that's far more like the naturals
than other styles of hackle.  
The thorax is made from dubbing and
the body of the fly is made from a
turkey biot. The biot not only closely
imitates the segmentation of the  
mayflies body, it also helps the fly
float well.
If you expand the above image, you
will see there are two tails that are
split like that of the real Quill
Gordons, not a clump of hair that's
used for the tails of cheaply tied fly
shop versions. There are two wings
that are split and slanted back like the
real mayfly wings, not a vertical clump
of hair or other material found on
usual generic imitations sold by fly
The amount of time required for a
good fly tier to turn out a Perfect
Fly dun is about five times that
required to tie the typical fly shop
Flies sold by most fly shops are
imported from foreign countries,
marked up by the importing fly
company, and marked up again by
the retailer. Perfect fly has it's own fly
tiers that tie their own fly patterns and
are sold directly to anglers. If the flies
were sold through the normal
distribution channels, they would cost
at least $5.00 each and probably,
even more.