Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for Abrams Creek GSMNP Tennessee
Everything found in our hatch chart for the Smokies exist in Abrams Creek. There are
actually some species of aquatic insects that aren't shown in the hatch chart that exist in the
stream in fair quantities. It is an aquatic insect factory.
The first hatch of the year is probably the little Winter Stoneflies. You probably want see
many of them but they will be crawling out of the water to hatch in January through March in
just about all of the streams in the park. Imitations of the nymph work good during the cold
winter. About the time these stop hatching you will see the Little Brown Stoneflies start to
hatch. They will last until the end of April. These are actually in the same family of stoneflies
but they are slightly different colors.
Blue-winged Olive are the most consistent hatch in Abrams Creek. You will start to see some
hatches about the middle of February and they will continue off and on throughout the entire
year. These include the baetis species along with the Eastern BWOs, Little BWOs and Small
BWOs consisting of about 15 different species, some of which are bi-brooded.
The little Blue Quills will start to hatch about the middle of February and last into the first of
April. They are usually very large hatches that are very consistent. About the same time you
will begin to see the Quill Gordons. They hatch until as late as the first week of April in the
Mid February will also bring about one of the largest caddisfly hatches of the year - the Little
Black Caddis or Brachcentrus species. This hatch is always very consistent. We have
caught more trout from this hatch than we have from the Quill Gordons during the last few
The Hendricksons start hatching near the last week of March. They are short lived, hatching
for only about a month to six weeks at the most. It is moderate and only occurs in certain
Around the middle of April, March Browns will begin to hatch. These mayflies are just about
everywhere you fish but they hatch inconsistently until around the first week of June. Much
more consistent are the Light Cahills. They start about a week or two after the March Browns
and last as long as three weeks, depending on the elevation.
The middle of April will bring about a hatch of the Short-horned Sedges. These are very
small black caddisflies that are quite abundant. About the same time you should notice the
first hatches of the Green Sedges. They hatch everywhere there is fast water for over two
months but never in large quantities. At the same time the first hatches of Cinnamon Caddis
show up. They are very heavy at times on Abrams Creek. They will be followed a few weeks
later with their Little Sister Caddisflies. These little caddisflies are also very plentiful on
Around the second week of May, Eastern Pale Evening Duns will start hatching. Most
anglers call these Sulphurs but the true Sulphurs will not start to hatch for another couple of
weeks. Both hatches last about a month.
The first of May the Giant Black Stoneflies will start hatching. These hatch at night and
deposit their eggs at night. Nymphs work well in the late afternoons. The Little Yellow
Stoneflies, called Yellow Sallies and one of the Smokies best hatches, will start around the
first of May and last until mid July. Another hatch also called Yellow Sallies, but different
species, starts again about September and last for about six weeks. The Golden Stoneflies
start hatching around the first of June and last about five weeks. The Little Green Stoneflies
start about the last week of May and last until July. These are sparse hatches, but stoneflies
in general are very important hatches.
The last week of June through the month of August you will find some Cream Cahills. These
are sparse but important at that time of year. By the middle of August hatches of Little Yellow
Quills will start to occur mostly in the higher elevations. This hatch last until the end of
October. By the middle of August, hatches of Mahogany Duns will begin to occur. This hatch
last for as long as two months depending on the elevation.
Also by the middle of August you should start seeing some Needle Stoneflies. This hatch last
until as late as November and will mostly be found in the small tributary streams of Abrams
From the middle of May until the middle of November, a long period of time, you will find
hatches of Slate Drakes occurring. These mayflies hatch out of the water but never in large
quantities. Imitations of the nymphs and spinners can be important.
The Great Autumn Brown Sedges, start hatching at night by the first of October and last into
the first of December. There is even a hatch of Eastern Green Drakes that occurs on
Abrams Creek from the last week of April through May. The hatches in the Smokies are not
usually large but there are a lot of them that occur. Keeping up with them presents a real
During the month of June, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and inch worms, all terrestrial insects,
become important food items for the trout. There are few hatches occurring, so most anglers
start using imitations of these terrestrials. The inch worms, or moth larvae, are especially
important due to the large numbers of them in the forest of the park.
In addition to the terrestrial and aquatic insects, theres a lot of other food for the trout. Small
Crawfish is one of those items. The brown trout are especially fond of them. Another one is
Sculpin. These small fish are abundant in most of the stream. Imitations of them can be very
effective. The Black Nose Dace is another baitfish that is important. Streamers imitating
these and other minnows work great especially when the water is slightly off color.
I didn't mention it in the aquatic insect part above, but midges are abundant throughout the
park. They can be very important when the water is cold and nothing else is hatching.
Imitations of the larva and pupa will catch trout anytime of the year.
Craneflies are everywhere water exist in the park. The larva and adults are important insects
to imitate. Hellgrammites, or the larva stage of the Dobsonfly, is another abundant insect
that is in many of the park's streams.
Naturally, we recommend our own "Perfect Fly" imitations. They are the best, most effective
flies you can purchase and use anywhere trout exist. They work even in the spring creek
portion of upper Abrams Creek. If you haven't done so already, please give them a try. You'll
be glad you did. The best procedure for fly fishing Abrams Creek is to check our hatch
chart and select your flies from it, not for just what may be hatching when you fish the
stream, but also for those insects that are getting near their hatch times. Fishing imitations
of their larvae and nymphs, can be very productive within a week or two of the actual hatch
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