Flies Needed Now for Fishing the Smokies
Blue-winged Olives- Part 2
Insects and other food the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis)
2. Blue Quills
3. Quill Gordons
4. Little Black Caddis
5. Winter Stoneflies
Blue-winged Olive Emergers:
I wrote about Blue-winged Olive nymphs yesterday. Today I am dealing with the
BWO emerging nymphs. When mayflies hatch, in this case BWOs, their wings pop
out of the wing case and they shed their nymphal shuck. The appearance of the
insect changes fast during this process. It looks different a different stages of that
change depending on the stage of the change.
We have two "Perfect Fly" patterns for the emergers. Our "Perfect Fly Emerger"
represents the insect when the wings have just popped out of the wing case and
the nymphal shuck is still intact on the body. The nymph is just starting to emerge
and is more nymph than dun at this point.
Our "Perfect Fly Emerger TS" or "trailing shuck" fly represents the insect when the
nymphal shuck is off the body but still stuck on the tail. It is more dun than nymph.
The reason we pay so much attention to the emerging mayflies is simple. That is
when the trout eat most of them because it is easy for them to do so. They can just
sip the emergers floating in the surface skim with little effort.
Most anglers prefer the dun imitation that represents the insect after the shuck has
been removed and the dun has fully emerged. The fully developed dun will depart
the water just as soon as the wings are dry enough to do so. This varies with the
weather and water conditions but it only takes a very short time. The duns stay on
the surface anywhere from a few seconds up to a minute or so, but that is about it.
Trout have only a short window of opportunity to eat a fully emerged dun. They
have more time to eat the helpless emerging duns that can't escape.
You do not necessarily need to have both of our Perfect Fly Emerger patterns. The
choice is strictly optional. The Emergers are a little more difficult to see and require
a little more skill to fish than the Emergers with the trailing shuck. It up to you to
decide which one of the emergers to use. Some anglers want both types and use
the trail and error method to determine which works best. Sometimes it seems the
trout prefer the trailing shuck duns and at other times it seems they prefer the
non-trailing shuck version. The reason I say "seems to prefer" is that in reality, one
never catches enough trout (has enough data) to truly justify saying which one
works better. However, if someone catches ten trout on one of the flies and two on
the other, guess which one they are going to prefer, even though the results may
have had nothing to do with the fly. Here is the difference in the two types:
Perfect Fly Emerger:
These flies are designed to float with the tail dropped down below the surface skim
with only the CDC wing supporting the fly. Normally you will only be able to see the
wing floating level with the surface of the water. That is the position of the real
emerging nymphs during the first part of the emergence. That is also the reason
anglers are unable to see the real emerging nymphs. They are not floating on top
of the surface of the water. They are suspended just under the surface skim. You
should not add floatant to the Emerger. If you do, the fly want float under the skim
and it may even roll over on its side. You should never use floatant on the CDC
Perfect Fly Emerger TS:
The trailing shuck version is designed to float level with the surface of the water. It
represents the fully developed dun trying to get its nymphal shuck off its tail and its
wings dry so that it can fly away. You should add floatant to the body and the
trailing shuck. You should never apply floatant to the CDC of either fly. That will ruin
the floating qualities of the CDC.
The trailing shuck version of an emerging mayfly is so effective that one tyer, Craig
Mathews, uses it exclusively for imitations of mayfly duns. His Blue Ribbon Flie's
"Sparkle Duns" have been popular for years because they are effective The
Sparkle Duns use a simple elk hair wing and dubbed body. Our trailing shuck
emergers are more realistic. They have a biot body, either turkey or goose
depending on the size of the fly to show the segmentation of the abdomen. They
have a dubbed thorax, soft hackle legs and tails, Z-lon shuck and CDC wings.
This is the "Perfect Fly Emerger" This is the "Perfect Fly Emerger TS"
As you can see there is little difference in the flies. We use a curved hook In the
smaller hook size versions of the Emerger. Many anglers do not use mayfly
emerger imitations at all. They only fish imitations of the fully developed duns.
There is nothing wrong with that other than the fact that in many situations, you are
not going to have as much success when you are using only dun imitations. This
strictly depends on a lot of variables.
These mayflies, Baetis species in this case, must have moving water to survive but
they prefer the slower to moderately flowing water. You will find the little swimming
nymphs around the edges of the stream in shallow, calmer water, pockets behind
rocks and boulders, slow swirling eddies, and the tail ends of pools. You cannot
pick up a rock and find these nymphs any better than you can pick up a rock and
catch minnows. They will dart away faster than your hand can move. They are not
attached to the rocks.
The Blue-winged Olive mayflies do not hatch is the fast water runs and riffles. They
don't reside there when they are not emerging as I just said. You may see the duns
floating there occasionally, but that isn't where they first emerged on the surface.
They emerge in calm to moderate water. This may only be a few inches from fast
water. As soon as most of them emerge, they get caught up in a current seam and
drift downstream. You may see them at the ends of long runs and in the calm areas
The emergers are not designed to be fished in the fast water. They should be
presented in the areas the BWOs hatch. This usually takes a slightly longer cast
with a lighter, longer leader and tippet. I would suggest a 9 foot, leader with at least
a 2 foot, 6X tippet for the size 16 and 18 flies. There are situations (low water for
one) where you may even need to use a 7X.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh