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Fly anglers live for the "hatches" when trout erupt in a feeding frenzy over the mass emergence aquatic insects from the river's surface. In these moments, trout can become so focused on one specific type of prey that they will pursue only a skillful imitation. Anglers who study aquatic insects to meet this challenge find that they're as captivating as the fish themselves. Every species has its own story, its own personality. We cross paths with these characters at the climax of a perennial drama of life and death, and--as with any great drama or sport--every play means so much more when we know the players inside and out. It's not just about catching fish. It's about knowing the stream and loving everything in it.'s aquatic insect encyclopedia is a guide to these players and their stories. Read about the behavior of each species and view thousands of closeup photos, or join the fly fishing forum to meet other devotees of the world's healthiest addiction. You can learn the basics of mayflies, caddisflies, or stoneflies. Or dive into the details of storied species like the Hendrickson hatch and the Hex hatch.

Latest updates

The blog posts below describe every update ever added to by myself (Troutnut) and other contributors, along with occasional other thoughts and stories from my adventures in fishing, hunting, research, and travel in Alaska and beyond.

Quick evening trip to the South Fork Snoqualmie

By Troutnut on July 20th, 2019
My wife and I drove up to the nearest trout stream for some quick evening fishing. I hoped to put her on some fish in the pools that allowed easier casting, but they seemed oddly devoid of fish. The ones I caught were rising sporadically, tight against cover that would snag most flies and required precise presentation. Retention is allowed on this stream, so I think maybe the easy pools got fished out.

Little green stoneflies (likely Alloperla) were common in the air in this fast-water reach, and I saw several on the water too.

Photos by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

 From the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington.
Date TakenJul 20, 2019
Date AddedJul 22, 2019
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Pretty little coastal cutthroat from the South Fork. From the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington.
Pretty little coastal cutthroat from the South Fork.
Date TakenJul 20, 2019
Date AddedJul 22, 2019
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

Female Perlodidae (Springflies and Yellow Stones) Stonefly AdultFemale Perlodidae (Springflies and Yellow Stones) Stonefly Adult View 15 PicturesA few of these larger stoneflies were fluttering around the South Fork on an evening dominated by much smaller species.
Collected July 20, 2019 from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
Added to by Troutnut on July 22, 2019

New "identification needs" page on the site

By Troutnut on July 19th, 2019, 2:14 pm
In the past month I've added a large number of new specimens to the insect encyclopedia, photographed on trips to the Montana/Wyoming/Idaho area for the last two summers. I haven't learned my Western hatches very well yet, so I'm relying on expert help (or slowly trudging my way through keys as time allows) to identify most of them.

To make this process easier and also catch up on specimens that have fallen through the cracks over the years, I created a page that automatically lists specimens that aren't identified as specifically as one could reasonably expect. I'll use this to guide my own ID attempts and I hope it helps some of the other experts who like to weigh in here.

The new page is called identification needs, and it's linked from the top of the Aquatic Insect Encyclopedia page for easy access once this post falls off the front page.

Pinched-down barbs vs designed and manufactured barbless hooks?

By Troutnut on July 18th, 2019, 1:04 pm
Recently I've been fishing entirely with barbless flies, and I've pinched down the barbs on everything in my fly boxes. To some extent this is because I'm sure it helps a little bit with survival; the scientific research is mixed on whether this is a big enough difference to matter to whole populations, but I know I used to damage a fish once in a while because the barb made the hook hard to remove, and now I don't. However, my main motive is a form of laziness: I fish places that require barbless hooks sometimes, and it's easier to de-barb everything and err on the side of caution than to keep track of the rules about that.

I found an interesting blog post recently by John Newbury talking about barbless hooks for Czech nymphs and how retention wasn't very good on barbless hooks that were manufactured using the same designs as barbed hooks but minus the barbs. I assume the same reasoning would apply to pinched barbs, too. As an alternative, he suggested hooks designed for retention when fished barbless such as the Hanak 333 BL and Fulling Mill Czech Hook. I've never used either of those, but the recently-started Montana brand Firehole Sticks seems to use similar design principles and I have fished those with some success.

However, I haven't really had an opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison between those designed barbless hooks and de-barbed hooks using similar flies. I'm curious if anybody else here has done enough of that to form an opinion.

Just a quick shot from the drive home.

By Troutnut on July 10th, 2019
On the last day of this year's Montana trip, I had a fun visit in the morning with Pat Clayton from Fish Eye Guy Photography, who I think it's safe to call the best trout photographer in the world. He recently opened a brick-and-mortar gallery in Philipsburg showcasing some of the best of his must-see work. I didn't take any pictures there (taking pictures of pictures would seem odd), but check out his website if you haven't seen it.

I did snap a quick photo of the Columbia River from a particularly scenic spot on the long drive home to the Seattle area.

Photos by Troutnut from the Columbia River in Washington

When driving home through eastern Washington we always like to stop at this overlook of the Columbia in the high desert. From the Columbia River in Washington.
When driving home through eastern Washington we always like to stop at this overlook of the Columbia in the high desert.
Date TakenJul 10, 2019
Date AddedJul 18, 2019
CameraCanon EOS 7D Mark II

Fun day on Rock Creek

By Troutnut on July 9th, 2019
July 9th was the fishiest day of the wife-oriented portion of this Montana trip. After a late-morning start, we drove the scenic highway from Philipsburg to Rock Creek and then down the valley to a spot that fished really well last year. My backpack included a Jetboil, can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, a Mountain House meal, tea, apples, a large book about genetics, and several other unconventional amenities designed to keep everybody happy on the river for 8+ hours. It worked, I think.

The fishing was good for most places and alright for here. Nymphs were surprisingly ineffective and most fish rose to dries instead. I caught quite a few decent cutthroat and brown trout, along with one brookie, although nothing exceeded 15 inches. Rainbows remained in hiding. Lena caught a nice cutthroat, too.

Photos by Troutnut from Rock Creek in Montana

Closeup insects by Troutnut from Rock Creek in Montana

Alloperla (Sallflies) Stonefly AdultAlloperla (Sallflies) Stonefly Adult View 9 Pictures
Collected July 9, 2019 from Rock Creek in Montana
Added to by Troutnut on July 18, 2019

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