Methods & Strategies to Use "Now" Fishing the Smokies

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

Quill Gordon - Spinners - Part 4

The Quill Gordon spinners fall in the same fast water habitat they hatch from. It
usually starts late in the afternoon after the mayflies have stopped emerging. This
is not always the case. If the skies are cloudy, or it is raining lightly, the spinners
from previous days hatches may begin to fall before the hatch has ended. However,
this is the exception, not the rule.

Spinners mate high above the fast water of the ripples and runs. This occurs at
about tree top height and if you are not looking straight up above the stream you
will not see them. The male spinners fall from the sky as soon as they mate. Some
of them land in the water and some don't. The females return to the bushes and
trees until their eggs are ready to deposit. Normally the egg laying activity starts
about 5:00 or 6:00 PM.  It takes place in a short period of time but It can last into
the early evening. The females deposit their eggs on the surface of the water and
then fall into water. They quickly collect in the current seams and head downstream
to where they collect in eddies, the tail ends of runs and riffles, and heads of the

At the time of day this is occurring, it is about impossible to see the spinners on the
water. They float flush on the surface of the water. If you want to verify that they are
in the water you can skim the surface with a net but this isn't necessary. If you will
start looking for them high above the stream at the right time of day you will see
them. If you catch a Quill Gordon about the time they should be falling, you will
probably see that it is a spinner, not a dun.

Trout take the spinners at the very ends of the current seams where the water
slows down. It is not easy to see the trout taking them. They don't crash the
spinners like the duns. They just sip them in. If the water is fairly smooth you may
see a rise ring but not very often.

Spinner Presentation:
You want to fish spinner imitations of the Quill Gordon below the ripples and runs in
the slower moving water. They will tend to collect in the calmer water such as edges
along the banks, eddies, the heads of pools.

The trout can examine the spinners as much as they want too. You need to use a
longer and lighter leader than you would for the dun imitations. We suggest a 5X or
6X tippet that is at least three feet long.

The up and across presentation usually works for the spinners but it depends on
the area you are trying to cast too. In some cases you may need to use a down and
across presentation. Just make sure you get a drag-free drift. You will probably
need to make longer cast than you normally would. It isn't easy to get very close to
the trout in the type of water they take the spinners in without spooking them.

The hen feathers we use to make the spinner's spent wings take on a clear,
translucent appearance when they are wet and floating on the surface of the water.
We have tested every type of synthetic material that we know of for mayfly spinner
wings. We have yet to find anything, synthetic or natural, that resembles the wings
of a mayfly spinner better than hen feathers. The tails of the spinners are the same
length as the real Quill Gordon spinner tails. Notice there are two split tails just like
the real spinners. The trout get a good look at spinners before they sip them in.
The fly you use should be drifting slowly in the same smooth water as the real
spinners. That is why we think it is important for the fly to be shaped as closely as
possible to the real ones.

Many anglers ignore the Quill Gordon spinner fall. They stop fishing when the hatch
ends. There have been a few times where we have been able to catch more trout
from the spinner fall than the hatch. I will never forget one stormy, late afternoon a
few years ago on the Middle Prong of Little River when Angie and I caught over
twenty rainbows in less than two hours of fishing the Quill Gordon spinner fall.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh
"Perfect Fly" Quill Gordon Spinner