Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the West Prong of Little River GSMNP
Even though the West Prong of the Little River is a small stream, it has about all of the
hatches of aquatic insects that any of the larger stream has, with the exception of Abrams
Creek. The Smokies have a huge diversity of insects but they are not that high in quantities
of insects with the exception of a very few hatches.
Beginning in late February, you can usually find some Blue-winged Olives hatching on a
cloudy day. About the first of March, chances are good that the Blue Quill mayflies will start
to hatch. The exact time can vary a couple of weeks or more if the weather is abnormally
warm or cold.
Around the same time you will begin to see the Little Black Caddis along the rocks and
banks. These can actually provide more action and result in more trout caught than the Blue
Quills or Quill Gordons. From about the middle of the afternoons you can fish imitations of
the pupa, then change to an adult pattern when the hatch gets to going good. After about
an hour, the egg layers from previous hatches will return to deposit their eggs. The action
can last until dark.
Almost at the same time the Blue Quills start hatching, the larger Quill Gordons begin to
come off. This can really turn on the trout and the anglers. They actually turn on the anglers
more than they do the trout. The larger mayflies are easy to see and give the impression
that the trout are really interested in them. Actually, they probably eat far more Blue Quills
than Quill Gordons, but the Blue Quills are more difficult to imitate. You can match the flies
alright, but you must fish the shallower, slower moving water where the trout get a good
opportunity to examine your fly. It is easy to spook the trout feeding on the Blue Quills.
The Quill Gordons hatch on or near the bottom and may or may not get any attention from
the trout on the surface depending on several factors. We have a "Perfect Fly" pattern just
for this. It is a wet fly that works great whether the trout are taking the duns on the surface or
The March Browns will show up on the Middle Prong but not in heavy concentrations. Soon
the Light Cahills will start hatching here and there but again, not in a concentrated manner.
You can catch trout fishing these hatches, but not as consistently as you can on the Little
Black Caddis, Blue Quills or Quill Gordons.
I haven't mentioned the stoneflies but they are very plentiful in the West Prong of Little
River. The first ones to appear are the Winter Stoneflies that show up in January. In April
you will begin to see the Little Yellow Stoneflies, or Yellow Sallies. They will provide a lot of
action late in the afternoons around sunset.
In early to mid October, the water will cool down and some late season hatches of
Blue-Winged Olives and Mahogany Duns will start to hatch. The Mahogany Duns, a sister to
the early Blue Quills, usually hatch in large quantities and provide some great action. These
are small mayflies, usually a hook size 18-20 but they will get the attention of the trout.
During the month of June, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and inch worms, all terrestrial
insects, become important food items for the trout. Theres 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
Crayfish is one of those items. 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.
We recommend our "Perfect Fly" imitations. They are the best, most effective flies you can
purchase and use anywhere trout exist. If you haven't already done so, please give them a
try. You'll be glad you did.
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Little River Tennessee
(West Prong) GSMNP
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