View Full Version : Green Drakes

04-22-2008, 11:19 AM
Byron's fishing report today got me thinking about all the stories I have heard about legendary Green Drake hatches. I've yet to experience one myself. When I first started fly-fishing I fished the Davidson in N.C. quite a bit. I was always told of really good Green Drake hatches in late May. I have fished that river quite a bit in late May, and have seen one single Green Drake hatch. I don't mean a hatch of bugs, I mean one bug hatch. It got about 15 feet above the water and a bird quickly snatched it out of the air just like Byron described in the report today. People always told me how big the bugs were, but it didn't register until I actually saw one. It was huge, and I can imagine what a big hatch of those things would due to the fish. Hopefully someday I'll be fortunate enough to be out at just the right time and witness one of these hatches.


Jack M.
04-22-2008, 12:32 PM
Green Drake nymphs are burrowers. They come out of the silt and are active before the duns hatch. Often, the trout gorge on the nymphs which leave them indifferent to the emerging duns. The spinnerfall of the glowing white coffin flies are an event worth seeing also. About an hour before dark, find a riffle on Abrams and look up into the sky. You may see a gathering cloud of the coffin flies that will slowly get closer and closer to the water. eventually, with just about a half hour of light remaining, they will start dropping to the surface, laying eggs and/or dying. If you are positioned downstream of the drop-zone, the action could be heavy. Trout seem to really like food that can't get away.

04-22-2008, 12:51 PM
Very interesting. I never knew that Jack, thanks for the info.


Jack M.
04-22-2008, 01:27 PM
I don't think Byron & Paula will mind if I offer this link to a very effective GD nymph pattern that is sold on the banks of Penn's Creek in Central PA, literally world famous for its Green Drake Hatch:


04-22-2008, 01:36 PM
I'm wondering if I saw a dun on Straight Fork Saturday evening...it was a very large mayfly, and it looked to be a very light, pale green. There were other, smaller mayflies that were a light-medium gray, bouncing on the surface dropping their eggs...the trout did not rise to any of them.

Jack M.
04-22-2008, 01:55 PM
Here are images of the dun and a female spinner "coffin fly" that were captured on Abrams late April 2007:


You can tell this is a female because the males have large eyes to find the mate and a set of pincers at the base of the tail to hold on tight when they find her:


Jack M.
04-22-2008, 07:33 PM
I should clarify that the "Green Drake" species Ephemera guttulata is a burrower. According to the "Match The Hatch" Tool at www.fishermonk.com (http://www.fishermonk.com) , two other mayfly species are also known as Green Drakes and they are "crawlers." That said, I believe the species in the Smokies creeks (Abrams) are Ephemera guttulata.

04-22-2008, 08:50 PM
The spinner might have been the fly that I saw...but the light wasn't the best and I wasn't in a good position to try to catch it with my hand. It was good sized, though...at least a #12, minimum.

04-23-2008, 12:27 AM
you may have saw a march brown. I grabbed one on cataloochee this weekend, about a size 10.

04-23-2008, 12:57 AM
Very possible...there were also several smaller, light-gray flies buzzing over this one pool...I take it they were females, as they would bounce to the surface to drop eggs. I couldn't get a good look at them.

04-23-2008, 07:09 AM
I imagine you would know it was a Green Drake if you saw one, assuming you saw one like I saw. I don't know what size it would equate to, but it probably had a 3" wing span. I've seen a lot of different hatches, and this bug absolutely dwarfed anything I had seen before. It seemed like it was at least twice as big as any other bug I have seen hatch on the Davidson. I'm sure I'm not remembering it as accurate as it actually was, but I'm pretty sure I don't have any dries in my box that would equate to the size of the bug. It was big.

04-23-2008, 07:56 AM
I was the "customer" that let Byron know about the Drake hatch. We just got lucky and were there at the right time to see it.
They were definitely green drakes
I did see fish taken them off the surface but we caught all of our fish on March Browns

04-27-2008, 09:08 AM
I love it when you are at the right place at the right time with this hatch. Fish don't seem to pay much attention the dun. I think it's because the fly sheds it's exoskeleton underwater and emerges fully formed. Fish do go crazy over the returning females when they return to lay their eggs. I use an imitation called a Dette Coffin Fly with good success then. It's fun to be in the middle of the stream about dust and hear what sounds like someone throwing rocks the size of your head in :biggrin: Here is a photo of my version of the Dette Coffin Fly.


Here is also the link by Loren Williams with the recipe and step by step instruction. I used golden olive thread and golden badger hackle otherwise it's bascially the same.


04-27-2008, 10:06 PM
Nice tie Steve.:cool: