The pleuralis species of the Epeorus genus, or “Quill Gordon” is a very prevalent
member of the Heptageniidae family of mayflies that are quite plentiful in most Eastern
and some Mid-western trout streams. One of the first larger mayflies to emerge, the “Quill
Gordon” starts to hatch anytime during the first of the month of March in the South and
some years as early as the mid to the later part of February. This strictly depends on the
weather and the type of winter that occurs.
The water temperature is usually fifty degrees or higher when they start to hatch. Keep in
mind that early in the season the water temperature may rise to fifty degrees and the
Quill Gordons may not start to hatch. The nymphs must be fully developed (their last
instar) and the wing pads ready to open. If the winter has been warmer than average, the
hatch may well start as soon as the water hits fifty degrees but if the winter has been
unusually cold, then they may not hatch the first time the water hits fifty degrees. The
excessively cold water would have slowed their growth.
Often, the water temperature will fluctuate up and down reaching fifty or higher for a short
time and then dropping. This will stop most of the nymphs from hatching; however, those
that were fully developed with their pads about to open may hatch even when the water
drops well below fifty degrees. This will usually only be a small portion of the nymphs. In
years where the weather fluctuates up and down, the hatch may start and stop for as
much as a month or longer. If the water stay fifty degrees and above for a couple of
weeks or more, the hatch may occur and end in a given section of water in a much
shorter period of time.
Remember that the elevation of the stream has an effect on the water temperature. The
higher the elevation of the stream, the lower the water temperature usually is. Normally,
the hatches will progress upstream as the weather warms. In higher elevations, the hatch
may not begin for several days after the hatches have started at the lower elevations.
Our "Reading Hatch Charts" page provides more information on hatches.
Anglers love the Quill Gordon hatch because the mayflies are large and they associate it
with the start of the fly fishing season. In fact, I believe the mayflies turn anglers on more
than the trout. Larger trout do not necessarily feed on the larger mayflies. In fact the size
of the mayflies makes no difference in the size of the fish you catch. There will be a lot
more fish caught during the Quill Gordon hatch than usual but simply because there will
be a lot more anglers fishing. I don't want to degrade the Quill Gordon by any means.
They constitute as good of a hatch as occurs although there are some other hatches at
least equal and some even arguably better. The manner in which they hatch allows the
duns to be caught in the fast water of the streams. Often, catching fish feeding on the
duns is a simple matter of tossing anything that remotely resembles a Quill Gordon dun in
the fast water current seams. Even a blind squirel will find an acorn during this hatch.
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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Perfect Fly Quill Gordon Dun
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