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stoneflies photos / questions

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4 replies to this topic

#1 flyguy613


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Posted 03 August 2015 - 01:48 PM

Attached is a photo of some stoneflies I captured earlier this morning on the river, I was told there were no golden stones on this river but here is proof they are there.


My question is do stoneflies usually vary in size this much? I get that the golden is probably smaller than the black (giant?) stoneflies but in this photo is a very small one that I found... If they vary that much in size on this river or everywhere I dont see a problem with trying stones of all sizes here like 16-06 right? In fact there were much larger black stoneflies as well but everytime i turned over a rock and found one I freaked out like a girl and threw the rock haha, probably easily a size 4 stone.


I always use stones here and there but I think seeing all of this after only turning over a few rocks in one spot boosts my confidence in using them greatly, especially near faster moving water. I could see thousands of stonefly shells on rocks as well

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#2 tidewaterfly


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Posted 03 August 2015 - 02:48 PM

Over the many years I've been fly fishing, I've been told frequently enough "that's not going to work here". Sometimes that information was correct, many times it wasn't.

IMO, you're on the right track by observing for yourself. I like tying & fishing stoneflies, and have used some rather large sizes & had success, even after being told, it won't work. I've spent more time pursuing bass than trout, but both will readily eat them. 


The fact is, even though you may tie a stonefly pattern in the many sizes & colors that you're observing, it doesn't necessarily mean when a fish takes your fly, it's because YOU intended it to be a stonefly. Fish don't read fly pattern books. A golden stone pattern could just as well be taken as a drowned hopper. There's no way of really knowing why a fish takes our fly.


I've told a story before of catching 4 different species of fish in a stream,(rainbow, brown, SM bass, LM bass) on the same day & with the same fly. The fly was a black stonefly nymph of my own design, and rather large for that stream, a size 6. I have no idea whether or not each fish took it as a stonefly or even if there were any stoneflies in that stream, much less that size. In reality, there were also large crickets in the grass along the banks, and plenty of small crayfish in the stream, plus it's possible there could have been hellgrammites in that stream as well. Any of which that fly might have imitated. The only thing I'm certain about is it worked that day.


Confidence in what you're tying on the end of your tippet certainly plays a big role in success or failure. I believe when we're confident, we concentrate better, and may fish a fly a little differently, in a positive manner, than when we're not confident. 


I know very little about entomology. Because I've been fly fishing a long time, I can generally identify some aquatic insects, and the size relative to tying an imitation. I've had success & failure, and it's all taught me that nothing in this sport is always true. If you tie patterns that generally imitate what you see, and there are an abundance of the real thing, then chances are you'll do well with your imitations. 


BTW, I hate tying with biots! They're stiff & IMO offer nothing positive to a fly. Any stoneflies I tie, I use rubber or silicone skirt material for the tails & legs and it has worked just fine. smile.png


What I've posted here has worked well for me. It's not the only way, and others will certainly offer their views.  wink.png

#3 utyer


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Posted 03 August 2015 - 06:34 PM

Most stoneflies nymphs take more than one year to mature.  The some take up to 4 years to mature.  There will always be multiple generations of nymphs in waters that have stone flies.  The males and females also vary in size, some females will be 40% larger than the males.  


You may have a first year and a second year.   The colors do look different and the middle one is more robust,  The bottom one does look like a golden as does the top one.  


Hope that helps you with the size difference.  


There are early season hatches of very small black and brown stones, and they are quite small.  There is no reason not to tie stone fly nymphs in sizes 16 to 4 (on 4 xl hooks.)   Keep taking samples and you may find more examples to copy.  

"We have met the ememy, and he is us." Pogo by Walt Kelly

#4 kennebec12


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Posted 10 August 2015 - 06:27 PM

I used to never fish stonefly patterns of any sort, because they are not so abundant where I fish (they are present, but it's rare to see them), then I learned a different method of fishing a stimulator and it has become one of my favorite patterns for late June and July, and I don't think the fish are taking it because it's a stonefly pattern. I still don't fish stonefly nymphs, many times I have tried and many times I haven't caught anything with them, not to say they don't work elsewhere or maybe I just have the wrong technique. To go along with tidewaterfly's theme though, I once came upon a little golden stone hatch here in more southern Maine and had no yellow stimulators, and they just weren't taking any of the little black caddis patterns which were also hatching, so I ended up fishing a hornberg dry (with the nice yellow underwing) as a little golden stonefly and I caught several nice fish that evening. Just a reinforcement that we never know what the fish are really 'thinking' when they a take a fly, I never would have thought to use a hornberg as a stonefly under other circumstances but it worked stonefly or not.

#5 WITroutbum



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Posted 08 September 2015 - 05:05 PM

We had a similar experience this weekend, and found the size range of the stonefly nympths we were finding to vary a great deal. I never really fished them much, but after this weekend I found myself thinking "Why wouldn't a trout eat that Huge bug?" I still prefer drys, but dang, when you start actually digging around in the water and see whats available to eat, it's pretty obvious the trout indeed have a bunch of food to choose from! Thanks for the insights in ages and sizes to utyer! Also great points on substituting patterns when need be. Great thread!