Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
2.   Little Black Winter Stoneflies
3.   Quill Gordon Mayflies
4.   Blue Quill Mayflies
5.   Little Brown Stoneflies
6.   Little Black Caddis (American Grannoms)
7.   Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
8.   Midges

The Hendricksons and Red Quills Coming Soon:
Starting very soon, you may find a new mayfly mixed in with the Quill Gordons, Blue
Quills and Little Blue-winged Olives that are showing up now - the Hendrickson and
the Red Quill. The name of this mayfly is very confusing to many. The mayfly is one
species of the huge Ememerellidae family of mayflies. This large family includes one
genus the
Ephemerella genus that is also a huge size. It contains many of the most
common mayflies trout feed on including the Hendricksons, Pale Morning Duns
(Sulphurs of the West), Sulphurs, Eastern Pale Evening Duns, and the Little Dark
Hendricksons. The Hendrickson is the Ephemerella
subvaria. That isn't what is
confusing. The common names are.

Hendrickson is the name of a man for which the fly pattern was developed for this
mayfly. There's a famous pool on the Beaverkill in the Catskills of New York that
bears his name. That is where he is supposed to have come up with the fly pattern.
Later, anglers begin calling the mayfly the Hendrickson.

The male
subvaria is quite different in appearance from the female. Because of this,
another fly pattern was developed for the male called the Red Quill. That is what
many anglers call the male
subvaria although that isn't exactly correct. The most
used name for the species is just the Hendrickson. Therefore there's a male
Hendrickson and a female Hendrickson. Now to continue confusing the issue, the
spinner of the Hendrickson mayfly is even different. The female spinner looks
completely different from the male spinners. All four look completely different.

Now you might look at the pictures and see where the name Red Quill spinner came
from. It would be the male Hendrickson Spinner. I will discuss the spinner fall in an
upcoming article because it is the spinners that really get the trout going during a
hatch. They eat the duns and spinners, but really go for the spinners. As you may
expect, there's a lot of confusion about which mayfly, the male or female spinners,
cause the most activity. Some say the males do, which fall just as soon as they mate
in the air, and other say the female spinners do, which fall later during the egg
laying process. Anglers don't agree as to how they lay their eggs. Some say the
drop them form high in the air, and other say they drop them on the water.

Now getting to the Smokies, be aware you cannot expect to find these mayflies
everywhere because the fast, mountain streams are more suited for clinger
mayflies. The Hendrickson is a crawler. It prefers moderate water but it will thrive in
slow moving pockets near very fast water and in the slower moving pools of the
Smokies. The problem is, that they can exist in a huge quantity if you find the right
water, even though they are not plentiful in the Smokies. You can become covered
up in Hendricksons at the right place and time.

Although I have spotted them as early as the last week of March, it is usually the
first week or two of April. You should be ready for them now if you are planning on
fishing the Smokies anytime soon. I will cover the way to fish the hatch starting
Female dun on the
left and male
spinner on the right
Photos courtesy of
Dennis McCarthy