Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

July 12th, 1999

Advanced Fly Fishing

Sometimes you learn from experiences. Sometimes you totally forget.

Many years ago in Michigan, JC and I taught a full-credit college course on Fly Fishing. The college in it's ultimate wisdom decided we should offer two separate classes. One for folks just getting into fly fishing, and a second one for those who had been fly fishing for a while. Sounded logical. The college listed the classes as Beginning Fly Fishing and Advanced Fly Fishing.

When the appointed times for these classes came, no one signed up or appeared for the Beginning Fly Fishing class.

Fifty-six people showed up for Advanced Fly Fishing.

Out of the fifty-six, 10 had actually held a fly rod in their hand. (Even fewer had ever cast one.)

We should have remembered that one. We didn't.

In an attempt to really be an information website - and wanting to encourage folks to get into fly fishing we established a section on this website for beginners. On the left-hand main page menu there is a listing For Beginners. If you click on it you will see Fly Fishing 101.

There are 33 articles on the basics and not so basics of fly fishing. Information about rods, reels, lines, tippets - the very answers to so many of the common questions on the Bulletin Board and Chat Room. Including some information on the insects, what they look like, and how to identify them. The insect articles are not very detailed. It was my assumption that the person just getting into fly fishing probably didn't want to know how many instars a mayfly nymph goes through before becoming a dun. (About 27.) Or which of the mayfly adults belong to which classification of nymph.

But following some Chat Room and Bulletin Board comments over the past week, we obviously missed the boat. We should have named the For Beginners section Advanced Fly Fishing. Keep your eyes peeled, it may show up!

To encourage our FAOL readers to look at the insects more seriously, there is a very different Fly of the Week up right now. We have shown the insect, and challenge you to tie the fly to match it for your locale. The insect is a May Fly, and your matching fly will be a dry fly.

E.dorothea nymph

For just a little more information on it, here is a drawing of the nymph of that same insect, Family: Ephemerellidea, Genus: Ephemerella, Species: dorothea . (Drawing from Mayflies by Malcolm Knopp and Robert Cormier.) These nymphs prefer quieter parts of river and streams like pools, glides and eddies, but some do live in faster water with their 'cousins' Ephemerella invaria and E. Rotunda. The 'dorothea' nymphs live in both limestone and freestone streams.

The imitations of the nymph are tied in both traditional and 'wiggle' styles since this nymph is defined as a crawler. They propel themselves with an undulating body movement - hence the creation of wiggle nymphs to match the Ephemerella characteristics.

Nymphs of the 'dorothea' are tied in both light and dark versions, depending on the local variations. Probably the most popular nymph for the 'dorothea' is anything with a speckled underbody - gold ribbed hairs ear gives the right impression.

A note here, the same book Mayflies offers the p.t. nymph (pheasant tail) as the most popular fly to imitate the 'dorothea' nymph. Wrong. A p.t. nymph is a caddis imitation, not a mayfly. But! Once trout are really turned on to the social feeding phenomenon they will eat pretty much anything. So why bother to match the hatch? Because it is best to have as close to the actual insect as possible.

Keep in mind besides this nymph and dun shown in this week's Fly of the Week, there are two other important opportunities for fly fishers with this insect. The emergers and the spinners!

So you have one insect - which produces four fly patterns (not including regional variations) for your fly box. Welcome to ADVANCED FLY FISHING! ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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