Welcome to Not Quite Entomology

Welcome to Not Quite Entomology! This is a different approach to matching the hatch, or learning which insect the fish are really eating. The flies and methods to make it all work will be here as well. We hope this series will inspire you to go out, look on top of and under rocks, check the stream-side vegetation, really investigate your favorite water and learn which are your local trout's favorite foods!


By Ladyfisher

Callibaetis are another mayfly. Just as 'blue-winged olives' are mayflies, this is just another specie. For general information of the Baetis group, check out the previous Blue-Winged Olive article here.

In the eastern United States these are mostly lake and pond dwellers, but in the cold waters of the west, this is an important hatch. Locally called the Speckled Dun and Spinner the insect is easily identifiable because of the speckled or 'freckled' look of both the body and the wings.

The emergence of callibaetis fluctuans is spring, May 15th to June 20. The western species, coloradensis from June 20th to Sept. 30, For the black-bodied nitritus, also a western insect, it is much longer, May 1st through Nov. 15th. The others important to fly fishers, americanus and pallidus are July 20 to Aug. 10 and Aug. 20 to Sept. 15th for the later.

Nymphs are small to medium in size, generally size 16 hook or smaller, have three tails of equal length, and rather large heart-shaped gills. To tie a nymph, use a prince nymph pattern, in brown or dark brown and pick out the dubbing well to represent the large gill structure. Wings of the adult female have brown markings on the leading edge, and both sexes have two tails.

For the dry, called the Speckled Spinner, tie on a #14 or 16 hook, with a slate or tan body. Swisher and Richards in Selective Trout include the Speckled Spinner (coloradensis) as one the their "Super Hatches."

Callibaetis pacificus, shown above, known as the Medium Specklewinged Quill and the Cream Hen Spinner, is found in ponds, lakes, and slower waters in the western and central states. Size is as for the Speckled Spinner, #14 - 16. It should be fished along lake margins and ponds thoughout the summer and early fall. The illustration above is a male, easily distinguished by the large 'stalk' type eyes. All baetis males have this type of eye structure!

Once you have mastered the basics of tying (or choosing) a fly to match a particular mayfly, you will realize it doesn't have to be a huge mystery. Match the basic color and size of the insect. If you really think about it, maybe that's why the Adams works so well! Just match the size, and the impression of the proper insect for either mayfly or caddis is there.

Mayflies are generally easy to identify - watch for the upright wing on the dun, which will be cloudy, the clear upright wing for the spinner (while on the water after mating it may be totally spent winged - that is one or both wings flat on the water.) These insects, all mayflies are pure joy for dry-fly fishers. Work on your casting and presentation and have some fun with dry flies! ~ DLB

For more on tying methods for Mayflies, see March Brown, and see Al Campbells Fan Tailed Gray Dun, in the Beginning Fly Tying series.

Credits: Callibaetis pacificus illustration from Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty, published by Jones and Barlett, Remaining photographs from Hatches II by Al Caucci & Bob Nastasi, published by Lyons and Burford. We thank Al Caucci for use permission

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