Fishing Cold Water in the Great Smoky Mountains - Blue-winged
Olives - Part Ten

This article continues with hatches of baetis, Blue-winged Olives during the winter
months or cold water. If the water and air is cold, the Blue-winged Olive duns will
ride the water for a relatively long time. Often the problem with it is that the trout are
also cold and as a result, are not very active. It is much easier for them to take the
nymphs and emerging nymphs in the surface skim than it is the duns. Later in the
year when the water is warmer, they tend to take the duns much better. Unless the
weather has turned cold, the dun imitations usually work great. In most cases you
will be fishing water between forty-five and fifty degrees. The trout will occasionally
take a dun imitation under those conditions but you odds of success are much
greater fishing a nymph or emerger pattern when the hatch is underway.

Getting the trout to take your imitation over the real ones can be a challenge. If you
spot a trout feeding on the surface, the best procedure is to present your nymph or
emerger imitation to it in a timely manner. Most of the time you will probably have to
fish the current seams that are adjacent to pockets that I described in yesterday's

We have two "Perfect Fly" imitations for the emerging BWOs. One of the most
successful patterns for this hatch is the trailing shuck version of the emerging dun.
It imitates a dun that is still stuck to its nymphal shuck. A Blue-winged Olive hatch in
cold water has more than its share of cripples. Apparently, the trout are aware that
duns still stuck to their shucks are easier to catch because trailing shuck patterns
works great in the cold water. Our other emerger fly imitates the nymph when the
wing pad first opens before the shuck comes off. It has a CDC wing and is designed
to float flush with the surface skim like the real emerging nymphs. You will probably
get more takes using it but you want get as many hook ups because it is more
difficult to detect the takes than it is using the trailing shuck version. You will usually
see the trout take the trailing shuck version but that isn't necessarily the case with
the CDC emerger. You have to watch your leader much closer.

Most anglers want to fish the dry fly or dun imitation under any circumstances. In
cold water, it is common for the trout to ignore it. If you do try a dun imitation and
you find that the trout are not responding to it very well, change back to an emerger
pattern. It shouldn't take long to determine this during a decent Blue-winged Olive

The trout will usually line up in the current seams when they are feeding on
the duns. If the water is not very cold, lets say its in the low fifties, and the trout are
taking the duns, you should concentrate on drifting your dun pattern drag-free in
the current seams. This situation can occur on some warm winter days but most
often, as I have previously said, when the water is in the mid to high forties and you
are better off using a nymph or emerger imitation.

As with the nymph imitations, long, light leaders and tippets are necessary. Nine to
twelve foot leaders and 6X tippets are appropriate under these conditions. In
pocket water, you can get by with slightly heavier leaders and tippets, shorter cast
and maybe even a few mistakes.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh