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Flyfishing Entomology, Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddis


Aquatic insects that are be eaten by trout and other fish are important to the fly fisherman. Knowing the name of the insect may impress fellow anglers but not necessarily the trout. If rummaging around the stream, turning a few rocks, produces a number of look-alike size-alike aquatic insects, you can rest assured that their on the fishes' menu. Finding a pattern near the same size and color, and fishing it near the bottom of the stream, is a very good start to having a hookup.

In my 35 years of trout fishing, I have found that size is more important than color. I had been fishing the upper Solano reservoir where Putah creeks empties it cold water into the headwater of the Lake for 10 years. This section has a steadfast Blue Wing Olive hatch as a size 20 every summer evening producing a steady rise of German Browns. Once the sun sets, fishing gets increasing better until one cannot see a thing. Fishing was superb. I fished until I could no longer see my fly. My fishing buddies were still into fish. In desperation, I tied on a Dusty Miller, a white fly in a size 20. I found that the fish did not have a problem with the fly's color as long as it was the right size. That evening, I also realized that one cannot fish a dry fly one cannot see unless you rely on a very lucky hookup.

Identifying the type of insect is useful in determing how to fish its imitation.

I remember people telling me, pump the stomach when you catch a fish to see what their eating or one of the first steps to catch fish fly-fishing is to identify what they are eating so you can imitate it. The fundamental flaw is that, if your not catching fish, doing the other thing may be difficult.

However, there are thousands of caddis flies and mayflies species in any waters in your state (unless you're in the Antartic, in which case, trout fishing going to be very tuff.) Tie on either of one of these patterns and fish a smaller size as a start. The switch size going first smaller, then larger.

Trout eat insects, specifically, aquatic insects because the insect are available and are accessible year-round. Selective fish can be baffling until you learn what they are feeding on.

You can get some hints based on what you see. Tailing trout are taking nymphs, rising-bulging trout are taking emergers or midges, while rising sipping fish are take a dry fly. A little net in your vest could be helpful if wading deeper is not an option.

All generalization I am making are wrong including this one.

If you are both patient and observant and fish often, eventually you will see everything. I had been fishing for more that 15 years before I ever saw trout intentionally targeting dragon flies. Some were getting taken 3 feet out of the air. That being said, I never successfully fished a dragon fly dry pattern. I would suggest concentrationg on Mayflies, Caddis flies, Stoneflies and lastly, Midges.

I have seen fly fishermen come back from the stream saying fishing was lousy. Observing them earlier, one sees them slapping the water fore and aft, reckless wading, and casting 30~40 or more feet. I doubt if that helped their chances. Nothing improves your chances more than careful, considerate wading with a stealty approach. Casting a long shadow across the water you're fishing scares the trout and they will hide until you go away.

Keeping your casts short, exploring the water near you first, using the lightest gear will all help. If you cast to a visible fish, you had better be behind them and careful.

The first cast you make is often your best opportunity. Make it count!

Please contact Steve Salkow Steve Salkow for more details.  

Tailing Fly