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 8:
Imitating Quill Gordon Spinners

If you happened to have been fishing in the park recently, and you left before dark, you
probably left a lot of feeding trout. I've been out of town but calls, email reports and fly
orders indicate Quill Gordon spinner falls are currently taking place. I mention that to point
out that most anglers are just not aware of the fishing opportunities a Quill Gordon spinner
fall presents. They think only in terms of the hatch. You can actually catch more trout in a
given amount of time during a good spinner fall than you can during the same length of
time during a hatch. That's because the spinner fall puts a lot of flies on the water in a very
short time. There's no need for the trout to get into a rush to eat them. The flies are not
going to escape them. The trout can sip them in as fast as they want to. The only downfall
to spinner falls is they sometimes occur after legal fishing hours and in some cases, even
when it's already dark. If the weather doesn't cooperate, they can take place early during
the following morning.

The Quill Gordon spinner fall usually occurs in the late afternoon but it's certainly possible
for it to start earlier than that, especially when the skies are overcast. Some days this may
occur not long after the current day's hatch ends. In some northern streams, I have even
seen the Quill Gordon spinner fall taking place before the hatch ended.

The best way to confirm a spinner fall is taking place, is to first, know a hatch has
occurred, and secondly, spot them when they are mating high above the stream. This
always occurs above your head and sometimes as high as twenty to forty feet above the
water. If it's cloudy, they will mate and fall earlier in the afternoon. If it's a clear, blue bird
day, they will usually fall very late in the afternoon or early evening. The air temperature
also has a lot to do with the time it takes place. The warmer the air, the later in the day the
spinner fall will occur. If there's enough light, you can often see the female spinners
dipping down to the surface of the water to deposit their eggs. Of course, the males will
already be dead, drifting spent on the water at that time. After the egg laying ends, it's
almost impossible to see the spinners.

It isn't easy to see the trout taking the spinners from the water, and that means the fake
ones your fly imitates, as well as the real ones. The trout don't crash them like they take
the duns. They just sip them in. This leaves only a small ripple on the surface and that's
only if the water is smooth. If the surface of the water is fairly rough, which is usually the
case with Quill Gordon spinner falls, you probably won't notice them. The spinners are
also difficult to see because they are present during low light conditions. In fact, if they fall
late in the afternoon when they normally fall, about the only way you can see them on the
water is to skim the surface with a fine mesh net. If your wading, they can drift right by you
in the surface skim without your being able to see them. I use a small, collapsible net
made to slip over my landing net. It's attached to the handle of the net. This will tells you
very quickly if there are spinners on the water.

The current will catch the spent spinners and move them into the current seams. The trout
will position themselves downstream along the current seams. The spinners will be mixed
right in with the bubbles. The trout usually hold near the ends of the runs and deeper riffles
in the same water from which the Quill Gordons hatched. You may also find the trout
eating them in eddies where the current has concentrated the spinners. In some cases,
they may end up in the heads of pools where plunges have concentrated the spinners. In
smooth sections of water, you will sometimes see the trout's nose break the water when
they are sipping them in, but not always. They can eat them without breaking the surface
of the water.

The trout can closely examine the spinners as much as they want to. They will turn away
from your fly if it isn't a fairly good imitation of the real ones. They get a good look at the
spinners even though it's under low light conditions. That's why our "Perfect Fly" Quill
Gordon Spinners are simi-realistic imitations of the real ones. Using them results in a
much higher percentage of hook ups.

The up and across presentation usually works fine for the spinners. Make sure it drifts
drag-free. Mend the line if you need to. In some cases you may need to use a down and
across presentation. If so, you should make a longer cast than normal to keep from being
spotted by the trout. I suggest this only when you observe trout taking the spinners
downstream of your position, or when that's about the only way to present the fly in a given
area. Another suggestion is to make sure you don't use too heavy of a leader and tippet. I
normally use a nine foot leader and a 5X tippet.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Thumbnail Image: Click for a larger view