Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the West Prong of Little Pigeon River
The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River doesn't have as many hatches or aquatic insects
as there are in some of the streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it has a
large variety. Its steep gradient keeps the mayflies limited to mostly clingers. Beginning in
late February, you can usually find some Blue-winged Olives hatching on a cloudy day. They
are not usually very prolific. About the first of March, 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. They are not very plentiful. The Little Black Caddis will show up about the same time
sometimes a little earlier. This hatch can be very good.
Almost at the same time the Blue Quills start hatching, the Quill Gordons start hatching. This
hatch is usually very good on the West Prong. The Quill Gordons hatch behind the boulders
and in pockets where they quickly get caught up in the current seams and head downstream.
These mayflies hatch on or near the bottom and may, or may not, get any attention from the
trout on the surface. In late September, hatches of Needleflies, which re little stoneflies come
off. These will hatch until about mid-August through November. In August you will find some
Great Autumn Brown Sedges. Fishing this hatch is best late in the day using imitations of the
The March Browns will show up on the West Prong in fairly heavy concentrations. They
hatch from about the third week of April and last until the middle of June. The Light Cahills
start hatching about the last week of April and last until the first of July, depending on the
elevation. Slate Drakes will hatch from the last week of May off and on until November.
There are only a few Sulphurs and Eastern Pale Evening Duns.
Stoneflies are very plentiful in the Little Pigeon 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. The Little Brown Stoneflies will start hatching in the middle of March and last for a
about a month and a half. The Golden Stoneflies start hatching about the last week of May
and can last a month and a half depending on the elevations. The Giant Stoneflies hatch
from about the middle of April until the first of June at night.
In early to mid-October, the water will cool down and some late season hatches of
Blue-Winged Olives and Mahogany Duns will start. 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. One of the best
hatches are the Little Yellow Quills. They will start in the middle of August and can last
through the month of November. They are found mostly in the high elevations.
During the month of June, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and inch worms, all terrestrial
insects, become important food items for the trout. There's 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, there's a lot of other food for the trout. Small
Crawfish are one of those items. Another one is Sculpin. These small fish are abundant in
most areas 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.
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
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. They not only are the most realistic flies you can buy, they are the
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