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 20
Continued from Yesterday's Article

The more we fished the different types of streams across the country, the more it
became obvious that the type of water didn't just affect how well the trout could see
the fly, it also affected several other things that were important factors in catching
trout. It affected just how well the trout could detect your tippet, leader and fly line.
The surface, smooth or rough, affected how well the trout could detect us,
irrespective of whether we were wading, fishing from the bank or from a boat.

Fast flowing, smooth, glass slick water provides the trout a much clearer view of
your fly, tippet, leader, etc., than water moving at the same speed with a broken
surface. That is yet another reason attractor or generic imitations work in the fast
water of steeply inclined freestone mountain streams. The fastest way to alert the
trout something isn't right in fast moving pocket water is to allow your fly to ski or
drag in the current. If the fly isn't drifting drag free, it doesn't matter how well the
trout can see it. It will alert them that something is wrong.

Of course other things to do with the water affect these same things. The amount of
and angle of the available light, the clearness of the water and many other things
become factors. Those types of variables aren't a product of the type of the stream
you're fishing. They are controlled by mother nature. All you can do is adjust to
them the best possible way.

It didn't take long for us to learn that there was no one single thing that made the
difference in success or failure on any of the different types of streams we fished. It
was a combination of many things. You often hear anglers say "it isn't the fly, its the
presentation". Sorry, but they are wrong. It is both of those along with many other

Fishing the different types of water and changing back and forth from one type of
stream to another was challenging and confusing at first. But the more we fished
the different types of streams across the country, the more it became clear that
some things never changed. It always got back to the fact that you had to fool the
trout into thinking your fly was something they needed to eat. There was usually
more than one way that could be achieved. Even in a crystal clear, limestone spring
creek like Big Springs Creek in Pennsylvania, if you can find the trout feeding in
one of the very few short riffle sections, where the water is moving faster and the
surface isn't smooth, you can catch trout on an attractor fly.

The Madison River, inside Yellowstone National Park, has sections in the meadows
that flows very fast but is smooth as glass. During a Blue-winged Olive hatch you
can watch huge trout feeding on the surface and catch them on a Parachute Adams
if it is the same size as the naturals - as long as you can get a drag free drift in the
invisible conflicting currents caused by the underwater grass. The fast speed of the
water permits that. However, If you fish some identical looking water in a section of
the Firehole River where the water is moving at a slower speed, even with the same
hatch occurring, you will find that you will get one refusal after another using the
same fly. You can switch to a much better, more realistic imitation, and continue to
catch fish.

I could reverse the situations and give examples of just the opposite situation where
the speed of the water remained constant and the surface changed from smooth to
broken and show a similar situation. You can usually get by with a fly that isn't a
close match to the natural in the disturbed surface but not in the smooth surface. In
low light situations versus bright light situations, I could give similar examples. It all
gets down to just how well the trout can see the fly, your tippet, your leader and in
some cases, even you and your fly line. It also depends on how actively the trout
are feeding but that is yet another subject I want get into at this time.

Now some of your probably wonder where all this is going. Once we began to
understand the difference in fishing all of the various types of water and how the
trout reacted to the different presentations and different types of flies, we begin to
notice that in the pocket water streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
some of the same things existing right before our eyes. In the pocket water of such
streams as Little River, for example, there are little miniature pools with slow moving
water. There are various speeds of current ranging from almost still to very fast.
There are broken surfaces and smooth surfaces. There are even plunges or
miniature waterfalls. There are deep, slow moving big pools. Those same variables
can change with the different depths of the water. Water downstream of a large
rock on the bottom of the stream flows differently than water in a hole in the bottom
of the stream. All of a sudden, it became clear our Smoky streams were a complex
mixture of current speeds and directions that the trout were instinctively well aware
of and naturally able to adjust to.

Now I realize that not one word of what I have written so far is new information for
any of you. Its all a matter of how you look at it. We begin to look at it as if we were
fishing each part of the stream as if it were one of the many different types of
streams we had fished across the country. We begin to realize that trout didn't
always get fooled into thinking our fly was the real thing simply because the fly  
passed their nose at a high rate of speed. We were well aware the trout didn't
always feed in the fast water long before that. We knew under some conditions they
could expend more energy than they could replenish feeding in fast flowing water.
Once we begin to apply the same principles that were necessary for success in the
different streams we had fished across the country, to their miniature versions that
existed within the streams of the Smokies, we begin to be far more successful and
consistent than we had previously been. The problem then became determining
which miniature version of the full size trout streams the trout were using at the time,
and what they were most likely to eat.    

Copyright James Marsh 2009