Fishing The Blue-winged Olive Nymph:
The Blue-winged olive nymphs are members of the Baetidae family. They are free
swimmers. They vary in color from dark brown to light olive or emerald. All of them are
slim, minnow like nymphs. They are classified as swimmer nymphs.
Blue-winged Olive nymphs exist in all types of trout streams and are one of the most
plentiful species of aquatic insects. Most are species of the baetis genus. There
are several slightly different species that hatch at various times throughout the year. Blue-
winged Olives are all slim, narrow profiled, swimming nymphs that act more like minnows
than the crawler or clinger nymphs.
Blue-winged Olives can exist and feed in streams with plenty of current. They can cling
tightly to rocks and the stems of plants when they feed in current. They use an up and
down motion of their abdomen and tail to swim.
The nymphs emerge in the surface skim but the trout will eat them well before they
emerge and below the surface as they rise to the surface to hatch. If the water is very
cold, in the low forties for example, it may be the only way the trout will eat them. They
may not take the emergers on the surface.
One method of fishing the nymph is to use a small strike indicator placed about 16 to 20
inches above the fly. You can use a larger dry fly to suspend the tiny nymph imitations if
you prefer. You can also fish them without an indicator. That is the way we prefer to fish
them. We usually add a small amount of weight a few inches above the fly.
We use both an up and across cast and a down and across cast depending on the type
of water we're fishing. As a general rule, in the rough pocket water, use the up and across
cast placed at the end of the current seams. In the smooth flowing water, use a down
and across cast.
The early season hatches (baetis tricaudatus) usually starts as early as noon. They can
hatch until 4:00 or 5:00 PM. It is a good idea to fish a nymph imitation in the mornings
prior to the hatch. In fact, it's often a good idea to fish the nymph imitation during the time
they are hatching.
If you are fishing waters where populations of the Little Olives occur and there's no
obvious hatch occurring at the time, it may be wise to fish the nymph. Use either the
swing style or a strike indicator depending upon the water. Use added weight of
appropriate size for the depth and current.
This is also a good search pattern to use during the hours preceding a hatch. In the
earliest part of a hatch, you may have better success fishing it as a dropper below a blue
winged olive emerger or dry fly pattern. In fact, the nymphs usually work even when flies
are emerging. Trout seem to prefer eating the nymphs just prior to their emerging.
Remember, that trout feeding on these small mayflies are not going to go to a lot of
trouble to eat them. They don’t need to. So, generally speaking, you can avoid the
rougher, faster more turbulent waters and concentrate on the smoother water because
that is what the trout will be doing.
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Blue-winged Olive Nymphs side view
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Blue-winged Olive Nymphs top view
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Copyright 2014 James Marsh