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Fly Fishing 101, Part 15
Stone Flies


It was midnight in late July. Under an old timber bridge we huddled together in the dark. Waiting. JC, my husband, decided it was time. He flicked the flashlight on, and slowly explored the concrete abutments with the beam of light.

Magically they appeared. Stone Fly nymphs hatching out into their adult forms. Dusty gray primordial creatures. We watched as the slit widened on the backs. Wider still, and a tuft of iridescence poked up through the opening.

Fascinated, I turned on another flashlight while JC took pictures of the transformation. The tufts slowly became accordion-pleated, double folded wings. When the wings were totally out of the slit, the insect crawled out of it's former home and rested. After a brief pause, it pumped venial fluid into the wings extending them upward to a height of three inches. These wings lie flat on the insects back when dry.

A couple of rolls of film burned, we walked back to our camp on the Yellowstone River and poured a couple of cups of coffee. This was the first time I had seen the Salmon Stone Fly hatch. Truly one of life's little miracles.

The next morning we walked along the shore of the river, identifying the hundreds of empty shucks attached to bushes, trees and rocks. Fishing that night would be frantic! The adult female salmon flies would fly back to the river, deposit their eggs, and die as they floated downstream.

Big flies, size #2, the trout especially brown trout gulp, slurp, and gorge themselves on the banquet. Salmon flies get their name from the color of their body. It is salmon colored.

Stone Fly drawing from Presentation by Gary A. Borger
Drawings by Jason Borger
Published by Tomarrow River Press

Stone flies, a relatively small group of insects, is the most colorful of all the trout food. Golden stones are smaller than the Salmon flies, size #16 and a bright yellow. Another favorite of fishermen because it is an early spring hatch, is the Gray Stone (called the Nasqually in some regions). Other "stones" vary in color from the salmon pink to tan and dark brown.

Stone flies have four wings, which are heavily veined. The wings lie flat over the back, except when they fly. Auto accidents have been caused on blacktop highways caused by misguided Stone Flies. They mistake the blacktop for water and land in such numbers as to make the road slippery.

It's easy for the angler to predict Stone Fly action. The insects mostly crawl out of the water and hatch on land. Knowing where to look along stream edges put you on the water with the right imitation at the right time.

Stop by the Chat Room and meet some fellow anglers. It is a nice bunch of people - always willing to help new fly fishers! Or just share your fishing adventures. Fair skys and tight lines, ~ DB

Have a question? Email me!

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