Difference between Wild Trout and Stocked Trout

Aquatic Foods -Many Forms All Important

Fly Fishing Basics

In The Fly Fishing world the purpose of Fly Tying is to tie a pattern that imitates the Aquatic Foods.

The Mayfly

Mayflies are one type of Aquatic Food, that in the hobby (or profession) of Fly Tying gets imitated quite frequently.

The Fly Fisherman needs to decide what stage of Mayfly he would like to tie on the end of his line.Aquatic Foods

In order to determine this stage he needs to focus on what is going on in and on top of the water.

In this Article I would like to discuss the Aquatic Foods starting with the Mayfly.

Mayfly Life Cycle

Mayflies deposit (lay) their eggs on the water surface.
Eggs will then sink to the bottom of Lake, Pond, or Stream.
The Eggs will then hatch into Nymphs, this stage can take anywhere from a couple of months to 2 years. A popular Fly Tying Pattern for this Nymph stage is called the Hare Ear’s Nymph.

Emergence Stage

The Nymph will then take some time and swim to the water’s surface. This is called the Emergence stage. At this stage the Nymph then emerges into what is called the Dun stage. This is now considered a Dry Fly and the most common fly pattern tied is called the Blue Dun.


The next stage is where the Dun flies to nearby streamside vegetation and then molt (shed their skin) and this turns them into what is called Spinners. A popular Fly Tying Pattern for this stage is a Dry Fly called the Rusty Spinner.

Aquatic Foods
Photo Credit … James Gilson–Port Royal, PA

Once they reach the Spinner stage they will then swarm, while they are swarming they will mate. You have probably seen a time where there are hundred of thousands of flies swarming (and this can happen several times a day) above or near the water, well this is that stage.

After the swarming and breeding has ended the females will then deposit their eggs to the water surface. After depositing the eggs the Mayflies will die and the life cycle starts all over again!

I have been to the Salmon River in Altmar (one of my favorite places), and have noticed a huge Mayfly hatch (all dead) and they lay on the side of the road along the bridge about 1 ½ to 2 inches thick. I was amazed at just how many there were.

Other Aquatic Foods

Now lets talk about some of the other Aquatic Foods and some of the common imitations that the Fly Tiers have created.

Amphibians such as Frogs has been imitated by Fly Tiers using a pattern called Krazy Kicker Frog.

Terrestrials such a Grasshopper sometimes ends up in the water and they are very popular with the fish. Dave’s Hopper is a popular imitation that Fly Tiers have tied.

Stonefly Nymphs have several different imitations that Fly Tiers have created. One of these imitations (and one I Aquatic Foodsuse the most) is the Black Stonefly.

Caddisfly Larva is another Aquatic Insect that just hangs out on the bottom. A common imitation for this is the Peeking Caddis.

Midge Larva is another Aquatic Insect often a Brassie is Tied to imitate this. A good example of a Midge Larva is a mosquito.


Crustaceans such as the Scud are very popular Aquatic Foods. Fly Tiers have imitated this with a pattern called the Olive Scud.

The Crayfish or Crawdad is another Aquatic Food in the water. This has been successfully imitated by a pattern called Dave’s Crayfish.

Minnows are another form of Aquatic Food and Large Brown Trout (amongst other Trout) and Smallmouth Bass are rather partial to a meal of Minnows and other Bait Fish. The Sculpin is one such Bait Fish and the Muddler Minnow is often the imitation of choice between Fly Tiers and Fly Fisherman alike!

Several different forms of Aquatic Foods

As you have noticed through this Article there are many different kinds and forms (stages) of Aquatic Foods. Fly Tiers around the world have done their best to create patterns to imitate these different foods.

What has been written above was just meant to give you (the reader) an idea of what can be used. It was not, by no means, telling you what you have to use.

So go ahead and get out there and learn how to Fly Fish and enjoy the nature around you. This is truly an amazing sport and once you learn Fly Fishing you may decide to tie you own flies. There is nothing out there that compares to catching a fish on a fly that you had tied yourself!!

Aquatic Foods 4


What have you got to loose other than all the Stress and Pressures that life is constantly dealing you!

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