Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
2.   Great Brown Autumn Sedge
3.   Little Yellow Quills
4.   Needle Stoneflies
5.   Crane Flies
6.   Hellgrammite
7.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
8.   Midges

Basics of Fly Fishing: Trout Food Series - Top 11 Insects of the
Smokies - Lesson #4

1. Mayflies:
I will go ahead and list mayflies as the number one most important insect in Great
Smoky Mountains National Park but I have serious questions in my mind as to
whether or not it should be number one or number two. Stoneflies may well be
number one most important insect as far as the trout are concerned. I wouldn't have
a strong argument against it. I suppose it really isn't important as to whether it's
number one or number two. What is important is that the mayfly is one of the
insects you need to learn as much about as you can if you are going to be a
consistent, successful angler.

Again, this may be the most important insect in the park. Every stream in the park,
from the tiny headwater streams to the largest streams there are, have plenty of
these aquatic insects. In fact, there are probably more stonefly species in the
streams of the Smokies than there are anywhere in the United States. There are
nine families of stoneflies and every one of them exist in the park.

Caddisflies are very important and definitely rank third behind the stoneflies and
mayflies above anything else. They are also the most misunderstood and ignored
insect in the park. They aren't treated as being nearly as important as they should
be. Many hatches go ignored and those that aren't ignored are most often fished

Midges are not considered important insects to imitate in the park by many anglers.
I have no idea why. That is a big mistake. They are every bit as important as the
caddisflies, but we are listing them next in line to them.

Midges and craneflies are the two most important members of this group of insects.
Both are a very important part of the trout's diet in the Smokies. Both midges and
craneflies exist in decent quantities. Deerflies and Horseflies and also Dipternas,
but they don't exist in large quantities and are not very important as trout food.  

This is the first terrestrial insect to make the list. All of the above are aquatic insects.
I hope you have started at the first of this series, or otherwise you may not know what a
terrestrial or an aquatic insect is. If you are a beginner, please keep up with the trout food
series or otherwise, you will get lost in the bug learning process. If you keep up with this
series it will be as simple as falling off a log.
The beetle is by far the most plentiful terrestrial insect in the park. There are
hundreds of different species of them in the park. They all are about the same
basic shape and most of them are about the same size. Of course they get larger
as they grow during the year.

Off hand, even some of the experienced fly anglers may not recognize this insect
because they are usually referred to by their early stage of life common names
such as inch worms or sour worms. Before they become "flies" they are little "wooley
worms". Like all terrestrial insects, the beetle gets into the water by accident. The
moth worms usually either fall off of tree limbs and leaves, or get blown off by the

The next insect of importance would be the ant. Many anglers may not agree with
me when I rank the moth above the ant and quite frankly, I wouldn't put up a lot of
argument about that. I am not really sure which one of the two the trout consume
the most of.

Another terrestrial, the grasshopper, is rated higher by many anglers than I am
ranking it. I would argue that it isn't as important as any of the insects listed above
it. Like their name implies, grasshoppers are found in large quantities where there's
lots of grass. Most of the streams of the Smokies are in the forest, not in open fields
with lots of grass. In my opinion, there are far more beetles, ants and moths that get
eaten by trout than grasshoppers.

Dobsonflies, Fishflies and Alderflies:
Next in our list of important insects are the dobsonflies, fishflies and alderflies.
There are actually quite a few of these aquatic insects in the streams of the park
but I have to list them near the bottom of the list in terms of their importance as a
trout food. The Dobsonfly is eaten mostly in its early stage of life that's called a
hellgrammite. It is the most important of the three insects I lumped together in this

Damselflies and Dragonflies:
l will combine these two insects together because they are similar. Both are aquatic
insects and both exist in fairly plentiful quantities in the streams of the park but they
are far more plentiful in still water such as pools, ponds, etc., than they are in trout
streams. They do exist in the pools and shallow slow moving water of all of the trout
streams, however, and they are eaten by trout.

Stream and Lake Destinations - Snake River, Wyoming
I goofed. I meant to finish up the Snake River before I moved into another stream
section but I left out the most scenic fly fishing trip you could experience, the
River in Wyoming. The other two sections of the huge Snake River, the South
Fork of the Snake and the Henry's Fork of the Snake, exist in the state of Idaho.
The Snake River begins in the Southeastern section of Yellowstone National Park. It
also flows through Teton National Park. It is covered in our
stream section of our Fly
Fishing Yellowstone website and will soon be covered in our "Perfect Fly" Stream
Section. This part of the Snake River begins at Jackson Lake in Wyoming.

The Snake River in Wyoming is one of the most beautiful areas of the United
States. You have the Teton Mountains as a background and wildlife galore in the
foreground. It isn't easy to concentrate on your fly. You may find your eyes
venturing off at the distant always, snow-capped mountains, or a moose along the

Copyright 2009 James Marsh