View Full Version : Matching the Fly

04-06-2008, 09:01 PM
I was fishing up at Middle Prong today, and I was having some trouble matching the flies. Does anyone have any recommendations on what I can do to recognize the flies?

04-06-2008, 09:12 PM
The fly fisherman's guide to the great smoky mountains by H. Lea Lawerence is a handy guide. It has what hatches usually occur at all times of the year. So you can sort of narrow your guess work. March browns were the predominate hatch when I was up at Elkmont today. Good Luck and keep after them.

04-06-2008, 09:25 PM
I was having some trouble matching the flies.

The best book I have encounted that really helps out identifing Mayflies, Caddis, and Stoneflies is the Hatch Guide For New England Streams by Thomas Ames, Jr.

Cost $20.00.

Even though the title is "New England Streams" if you advance it a week or two it should work for the Smokie streams.

It not only provides you a photo of the hatch, but it also makes recommendations to it's imatation and pattern for each one.

Well worth the double saw-buck.

Good luck.

AK Skim

04-06-2008, 09:38 PM
Well, this is easier said then done but one of the best things I did during my first year of fly fishing was I went bug hunting instead. You need to pick one of those glorious days when the bugs should be hatching and you shold have a fly rod in your hand but instead you've got a book, some binoc's and if you don't mind looking a little nerdy maybe even a small bug net. Oh ya don't forget a good camera as well & if your like me you'd be better off not even having a rod in the car: its just to tempting!

This does two things: helps you to focus on the bugs and how the fish are reacting to them. Then it takes some of the pressure/frustration off yourself. I know early on I was so busy with my casting, knot tying, & trying to remember what vest pocket I put which box and/or gizzmo in that I wasn't actually doing much real fishing. Just standing in the water really.

Most of the learning curve in fly fishing can be overcome by taking one aspect at a time and simplifying it for yourself as much as possible!
Just my two cents. Hope it

milligan trout degree
04-06-2008, 09:52 PM
One thing I've noticed since I've started fly fishing is that I pay attention to every bug I see anywhere now. Also, anything I think I might be able to tie a fly out of. When I'm on the water, I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for anything fly or skittering on the water, or looking down into the water to see what is floating by. I find that a lot of times, I can see nymphs floating through the water. Also, flip over rocks and see what's living on the bottom. Even when I'm not fishing, I'm trying to catch anything that flies by. Our baseball field gets a serious midge hatch from the creek running behind it in the evenings. I also search the internet often looking at different species of flies. A tip for learning the flies is learning the profile of certain species, caddis, mayfly stonefly, etc. Then look at the color to determine what kind it is. Knowing what should be hatching helps a lot too. Just some tips, I'm still learning a lot myself.


Brian Griffing
04-07-2008, 05:14 PM
this website has a very good entomology section, complete with pull-down menus, pictures, written descriptions, and imitations.

I know it is designed for people fishing in the western U.S., but a lot of the bugs are the same.

04-07-2008, 06:50 PM
That is a great website Brian. I love the way it has everything categorized by caddis, may, and stoneflies. The pictures are also very helpful. I also just ordered The fly fisherman's guide to the great smoky mountains by H. Lea Lawerence so thanks for all the help everybody.

04-07-2008, 06:57 PM
Of course to simplify things. Give it a couple of more weeks and you really don't need much more than a mayfly in yellow and a caddis or stimulator in yellow. Have a half a dozen of each in different sizes. From size 12 down to 18 and you are set for 75% of the time until October. This is for the park. Tailwaters are different. If you don't catch anything on top try some Partridge and yellow wets or some Tellico's and you are set for subsurface for most of the season.

No need to make this more complicated than it is. Of course entomology is fun in itself so it won't hurt to know the hatches.

04-07-2008, 07:39 PM
The yellow Parachute Adams, and those foam yellow stoneflies. We caught a lot of fish all last summer on those two patterns...probably from the end of May on, if not sooner.

04-07-2008, 08:58 PM
I'll strongly second Thomas Ames book on New England hatches. Virtually all the same bugs are found up and down the Appalachians. You won't find every bug in Ames book in the Smokies -- plus there may be a few that are unique to the Smokies -- but it's a great resource. He even has the green stoneflies covered!


04-07-2008, 10:04 PM
No need to make this more complicated than it is. Of course entomology is fun in itself so it won't hurt to know the hatches.

This is great advice from Hans and a few other folks. Take a look at this site (points 3 & 4 in particular) http://www.flyline.com/tips_trivia/myths_legends_lies/

I think sometimes we get so caught up in matching the hatch we forget the other things (which may be more important)...presentation...not spooking the fish...type of feeding

Its great to know all the entomology stuff, and there are places where it may be vitally important to catching fish, but in the Smokies, I think its greatly overrated...

I'll get off the soapbox and prepare to catch some arrows (and daggers!)...

04-08-2008, 10:14 AM
No daggers here, I agree with ya Pete Cz...I subscribe to the K.I.S.S. method myself...I think a person needs to know the basic difference between the type of bug in whether its a mayfly or caddis, stonefly etc... but the genus,species,and so on....well fish don't speak latin and neither do I...
the real question is- can you put what they are eating in the right place?

Personally, I carry a small stomach pump and every now and again I see what's goin' on in a fish and compare to some rocks that I've turned over...

Its funny how many times fish will be on something other than what hatching at the moment - or a different stage of what you thought they were onto...hence presentation of that bug..

And true... in the park, much can be boiled down something thunderhead early in the season in various sizes and something yellow as into the late spring and summer...

04-08-2008, 11:18 AM
That's a great article Pete, thanks for posting...

it reminded me of the saying:

"...we [as Anglers] don't necessarily re-create, we imitate..." Otherwise, a fish wouldn't eat a mayfly with steel shank protruding from its backside... :-)

Thanks again!

Jack M.
04-08-2008, 11:24 AM
You guys are going to take all the fun out of flyfishing if you keep posting facts like that!