Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
3    Light Cahills - hatching
4.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5.   Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
6.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
7.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
8.   Green Sedges - hatching
9.   Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
10. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
11. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
12. Golden Stonefly - hatching
13. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
14. Slate Drakes - hatching
15. Beetles
16. Grasshoppers

The Learning Process - Part 16
Continued from Yesterday's article

Yes, you can purchase various specific imitations of some of the important mayfly
duns but a only a very few specific imitations of mayfly nymphs. As I said more than
once, commercial fly tyers apparently think that the dry fly imitation of a mayfly dun
needs to be more realistic than the nymph, even though it is a fact the trout can see
a mayfly nymph much better than they can a mayfly dun on the surface of the
water. Mike Mercer, of the Fly Shop in California, has come up with a few specific
mayfly nymphs in his Poxyback line of flies but that is all I know of that amounts to
any significance. When it comes to caddisflies, there are only a very few  specific
imitations of the larvae that are commercially available. There are a very few
specific imitations of stonefly nymphs.

You can purchase a Sulphur Dun, but not a sulphur nymph. You can purchase a
Quill Gordon Dun, but not a Quill Gordon Nymph. You can purchase a Hendrickson
Dun, but not a Hendrickson nymph. You can purchase a Slate Drake (Magahony
Dun) even though they never get into the water! When it comes to the mayfly
spinner, you can only find generic imitations. There are no specific imitations of a
Quill Gordon Spinner, a Blue Quill Spinner, a Sulphur Spinner, etc. The only thing
you can purchase for an adult caddisfly is a brown one, a green one, a black one,
etc. and a few goofy imitations of cased caddis that are suppose to look like the real
things. In a nutshell, a few specific mayfly duns are the only flies you an purchase
that accurately imitate the aquatic insect trout eat. For some reason, anglers or fly
tyers, or maybe both, think that the only thing that really needs to look like the real
insect are a few mayfly duns. Even though trout can see the nymphs much better
than the duns they can only view from the bottom side, half in and half out of the
water, no one seems to care how much their nymph imitates the real ones.

Everything I made a point of above has one big exception, because now you can
actually purchase a specific imitation of all the major mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies
and other insects trout eat, in all the stages of life they trout eat them in. They are
"Perfect Flies", which leads me back to what I have been writing about.

Once I begin to realize the fly business was much more about anglers looking a
pretty little bushy mayfly imitations in their dry fly box, than it was about fooling trout
into thinking it was something to eat, I understood. I should have known when I first
started hearing anglers say "what a beautiful fly".
Mayfly nymphs and spinners
are not beautiful
. In fact they would probably be considered ugly by most people.
Apparently none of the caddisflies are pretty, regardless of their stage of life. When
I started hearing anglers say "that is a nice buggy nymph", instead of "that looks
like a real mayfly nymph", I began to understand why some "nymph" flies look as
much like a real mayfly nymph as an alligator looks like a wild hog. I guess when it
comes right down to it, commercial fly companies are pretty darn smart. They
realize most anglers are much more concerned about what is a pretty fly than they
are about how well the fly resembles or imitates an insect.

Again, the way you catch any fish, is to fool it into eating what it normally eats either
by actually putting a hook in the real thing, or fooling the fish into thinking
something artificial with a hook in it is what it normally eats. When I begin to follow
the same strategy with trout that I had very successfully followed my entire life  
fishing for any other species of fish - that is studying what the fish eat and either
using the real thing, or learning how to imitate those foods with a fake imitation of it
- I was thrown a curve ball. I couldn't relate a Royal Wulff or a Humphy with what it
was intended to imitate. I suppose John Gerich was right when he suggested the
Royal Wulff imitated strawberry cake and ice cream.

Once I learned
how a trout viewed objects out of the water and under the water,
using their unique peripheral and binocular vision, I could clearly understand how
the fish could mistake a fast moving fly on the surface of the water for a real bug. It
became obvious that the fly passes through the trout's window of vision so fast that
it only gets a ultra short glimpse of it. Under different lighting conditions, a trout
could mistake any little feathered or hairy object quickly passing by for a real insect.
That is easy to understand. Even though the trout can see objects under the water
clearly, I could understand how a fast moving nymph that provided at best, only an
impressionistic view of a real nymph, could fly by the nose of a trout and be
mistaken for the real thing. It didn't take me long to figure out why anglers fishing for
trout in the fast pocket water streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or
anywhere else, could only catch trout under optimum conditions when the trout's
metabolism was in high gear. When the trout were not actively feeding in the fast
water runs and riffles, when the water was cold or too warm, or when they were
feeding in the slower moving water of pools, pockets, at the edges of the current or
really, any where else in the stream, it was clear why anglers using generic and
attractor imitations couldn't consistently catch trout. What I really couldn't
understand, is that if trout can be fooled in the fast water with a fly that doesn't
resemble anything a trout eats very well, why couldn't they be fooled with something
that looked like what they ate much better. I also wondered how these same anglers
could catch trout when they fished other types of water with wild trout, such as
smooth flowing tailwaters and spring creeks. I found out the answer over time. Most
of them couldn't. Most of them are quick to tell you they don't fish that type of water.
I understand why.

Continued tomorrow

Copyright James Marsh 2009