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

Reviewing the Basics - Flies

It is often said by those that fly fish, that it is not the particular fly you use as much
as it is the presentation. You have probably heard that time and time again. It is
true but only in the sense that if you do not present any fly correctly, you are not
going to catch trout. Making that statement is like saying that if you don't hit what
you aim at, it doesn't matter what kind of gun or ammunition you use. Or maybe, it
doesn't matter what golf club you use it you don't hit the ball right. Of course, it
doesn't matter what fly you use if it is not presented right. In fact, it doesn't matter
what fly you use if all of the basic things you should do fly fishing for trout are not

For example, if you wade carelessly, kicking rocking and splashing the water
throwing a wake like a whale, it won't matter what fly you use. If your fly drags
across the water throwing a wake, (doesn't drift drag free) then it doesn't matter
what fly you are using, you are not going to catch trout.

You would think anyone that was advanced enough (been trout fishing two or three
times) would know these simple things but I guess some don't or at least they don't
stop and think about what they are doing. Of course, there are also those of you
who haven't fished as much as two or three times for trout. Those just getting
started may also find a review of the basics of fishing small streams for trout helpful.

If you do all of the basic things regarding presenting flies to trout correctly, then the
fly often doesn't make much difference as long as you are fishing for stocked trout,
or even wild fish in fast flowing water. In fact, you can take two flies along with you
for the rest of your life and catch quite a few trout - a Parachute Adams dry fly and
a Hairs Ear Nymph. That is all you need. In fact I will go so far as to say that
changing to hundreds of other "generic" or "attractor" flies will not make any
difference in your success. It will not increase your catch and usually only results in
catching less fish. That is because the two flies I mentioned, look similar enough to
many aquatic insects trout eat to fool them in some cases. They imitate those
insects better than any other "generic" or "attractor" flies, so most of the time you
are just wasting your time changing to other non-specific imitations. If you change
to a Royal Wulff, for example, and catch more trout, it would not be due to the fly. It
would be due to any number of thousands of other factors.

Am I suggesting you only use just those two flies? Yes, provided you are one, going
to change from one generic or attractor to another and two, if you are happy
catching trout in fast moving water part of the time you fish. In other words, if you
are satisfied in being a mediocre angler, that would be my suggestion. Just learn
the basics, stick to fast moving water where the trout have a short time to examine
the fly (or water stocked with fish used to eating dough balls) , and fish only those
two flies.

If you are not happy at being (or becoming a mediocre angler if you are just
starting) then you better learn all about what the trout eat and how to go about
imitating those foods that are most plentiful and easiest for the trout to acquire.
Using "specific imitations" or flies that imitate those specific foods will improve your
success, provided they are presented properly. Doing so will allow you to catch
trout in any kind of water, even when most other anglers have to rely on excuses
for their lack of success. You will also achieve a much higher level of satisfaction
knowing that you caught trout as a results of knowing what was happening, not just
from pure luck.

In this series, for the next few days, I will be reviewing the basics of presenting flies
to trout in the small streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh