Flies Needed Now for Fishing the Smokies -
Blue-winged Olives  - Part 3

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
6. Midges
7. Streamers

Blue-winged Olive Duns:
I wrote about the emerging nymphs yesterday. Today will be about the subimago or
dun. Imitations of the duns are much easier to see than the emergers because they
ride on top of the water. They are also more fun to fish - provided the fish are
feeding on the surface. They don't always do that. When they don't, fishing the dun
imitation during a hatch is frustrating. If you know a hatch is underway, meaning you
are seeing the duns come off the water, and the trout are not taking your dun
imitation, it is wise to swap to an emerger pattern. If you don't have any, try fishing
an imitation of the nymph in the surface skim. You can grease our "Perfect Fly
BWO Nymph up and fish it in the surface effectively.

Most all the BWOs (
Baetis species), of which there are several in the Smokies, are
pale olive, dark olive and brownish olive colors. At one point, we were going to have
eight different BWO dun fly patterns, one for each of the groups of species that
varied slightly in color. When we managed to collect and photograph samples of
each of the eight groups of species, and we got all the colors of the body parts
down pat, we had the flies tied in those exact shades of color. If I didn't have the
lights on extremely bright, and if I didn't have my glasses on, I couldn't tell the
difference between them although they were slightly different shades of colors. I
decided that it would be a mistake to do that and changed to one fly for each stage
of life of the blue-winged olives.

The only thing that didn't work great was the
Drunella species of BWOs. They are
more like a Small Western Green Drake than
Baetis or any of the other genera of
BWOs. This is a
perfect example of just one of many problems encountered
as a result of using common names.
The Easter BWOs are crawlers, not
swimmers, and there is a difference in the appearance and shapes of the nymphs.
These BWOs hatch mostly during the summer months and early fall. By the way,
the hatches are very sparse in the Smokies. The other problem was that we found
a slight difference in the exact color of some species from stream to stream . We
wanted them to be simi-realistic, but not so realistic that we have eight duns and
spinners, emergers, nymphs, etc. just for BWOs.

One highly respected fly tyer, with several books on fly tying, DVDs, and numerous
fly patterns, said that he projected images of the insects on a large wall, size scale
to determine the minor differences in color. He contends color is very important and
that you should die the body parts to the exact color of the naturals. The same fly
tyer, ties his nymphs with 30 tails instead of two or three, and uses one nymph
shape for all types of nymphs. In other words, apparently he thinks shape doesn't
matter, only color. You can believe that if you want to but personally, I think he is -
well on second thought, I want say.

Our "Perfect Fly Duns" are not the easiest flies to tie. I had to push my tyers several
times to keep the price down to where it was the same as the other flies. The dun
imitations have either turkey or goose biot bodies to imitate the real mayflies
abdomen segmentation; partridge for the legs; either two or three split tails,
(depending on the species) made of nylon (similar to Micro Fibets); a dubbed
thorax; rooster hackle wound parachute style for the legs; and two, split, upright
matching hen feathers that are set back at an angle similar to the naturals. Try
tying one in a hook size 20 and you will see why. We have a DVD on how to do that
if you are interested in tying your own. It also covers the spinners and large drake

The design of our duns was influenced by the Parachute Adam, a sometimes
effective fly if it is used in fast water for opportunistically feeding trout. In fact that is
the generic imitation that we used to test and compare the effectiveness of our flies
against. In some cases in the Smokies our flies seem to be no better and in some
cases they make the difference in catching trout and not catching trout. One big
reason the Parachute Adams works at times is that it is easy to see. This helps
most anglers, especially those learning to fly fish, see the fly and hook trout. The
other advantage is that parachute style hackle give a much more realistic
appearance of mayfly legs than vertically wound hackle. We think the shape or
configuration of the tail is also very important. That is why we use the realistic split
tails instead of a clump of hair or feathers that doesn't give the appearance of real
mayfly tails. Trout may not can count but they can tell the difference in a clump of
hair or feathers and two or three extremely slim tails. We have already mentioned
the segmentation factor where the biot abdomens of our flies are far more realistic
than a dubbed abdomen. We haven't mentioned the fact that the two split wings are
just as easy to see as a post yet they are far more realistic than other parachute
style flies.

Unlike the nymphs and emerger imitations, the duns should be presented in the
current seams and at the ends of runs and riffles. They are also effective at the tail
ends of some pools. By the time the emergers have shed their shuck, changed into
duns and are on top of the water, they are usually caught up in the currents. Most
of the time they are caught in the current seams where the slow water meets the
fast water. This is often the edges of pockets.

Even in fast pocket water, we think our dun imitations are more effective than other
imitations simply because they are accepted by the trout as the real thing more
often than the other flies. It results in a higher percentage of takes. Refusals are
rare.  We have found that In moderate water situations and/or smooth water
situations where the trout can get a good look at the fly, they are far superior to
other imitations of mayfly duns.  We hope that you will give them a try.

Please note than we have started posting our daily list of flies that are needed for
the Smokies. It will be updated every time another insect is getting close to hatching
or when one has finished hatching.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh