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Red Quills

Like most common names, "Red Quill" can refer to more than one taxon. They're previewed below, along with 10 specimens. For more detail click through to the scientific names.

Mayfly Species Ephemerella subvaria

These are often called Red Quills.
The Hendrickson hatch is almost synonymous with fly fishing in America. It has been romanticized by our finest writers, enshrined on an untouchable pedestal next to Theodore Gordon, bamboo, and the Beaverkill.

The fame is well-deserved. Ephemerella subvaria is a prolific species which drives trout to gorge themselves. Its subtleties demand the best of us as anglers, and meeting the challenge pays off handsomely in bent graphite and screaming reels. Ours may be the sport of gentlemen, but the gentleman may drool a little on his tie when he thinks of this hatch-to-come after a dismal fishless winter.
Ephemerella subvaria (Hendrickson) Mayfly NymphEphemerella subvaria (Hendrickson) Mayfly Nymph View 7 PicturesThis is another unusual brown Ephemerella nymph. The "fan-tail" which defines the Ephemerella genus is particularly evident on this specimen.
Collected February 7, 2004 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on January 25, 2006
Male Ephemerella subvaria (Hendrickson) Mayfly DunMale Ephemerella subvaria (Hendrickson) Mayfly Dun View 9 PicturesI collected this male Hendrickson dun and a female in the pool on the Beaverkill where the popular Hendrickson pattern was first created. He is descended from mayfly royalty.
Collected April 19, 2006 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on April 22, 2006
Male Ephemerella subvaria (Hendrickson) Mayfly SpinnerMale Ephemerella subvaria (Hendrickson) Mayfly Spinner View 11 PicturesI collected this beautiful male Hendrickson specimen as a dun, along with a female Hendrickson from the same hatch. Both molted into spinners in my house within a couple of days.
Collected April 23, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on April 25, 2007

Mayfly Species Ephemerella invaria

These are sometimes called Red Quills.
This species, the primary "Sulphur" hatch, stirs many feelings in the angler. There is nostalgia for days when everything clicked and large, selective trout were brought to hand. There is the bewildering memory of towering clouds of spinners which promise great fishing and then vanish back into the aspens as night falls. There is frustration from the maddening selectivity with which trout approach the emerging duns--a vexing challenge that, for some of us, is the source of our excitement when Sulphur time rolls around.

Ephemerella invaria is one of the two species frequently known as Sulphurs (the other is Ephemerella dorothea). There used to be a third, Ephemerella rotunda, but entomologists recently discovered that invaria and rotunda are a single species with an incredible range of individual variation. This variation and the similarity to the also variable dorothea make telling them apart exceptionally tricky.

As the combination of two already prolific species, this has become the most abundant of all mayfly species in Eastern and Midwestern trout streams.
Ephemerella invaria (Sulphur Dun) Mayfly NymphEphemerella invaria (Sulphur Dun) Mayfly Nymph View 8 PicturesThis small Ephemerella invaria nymph was at least a month away from emergence.
Collected April 19, 2006 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on April 21, 2006
Male Ephemerella invaria (Sulphur Dun) Mayfly DunMale Ephemerella invaria (Sulphur Dun) Mayfly Dun View 7 Pictures
Collected May 26, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 4, 2007
Male Ephemerella invaria (Sulphur Dun) Mayfly SpinnerMale Ephemerella invaria (Sulphur Dun) Mayfly Spinner View 12 Pictures
Collected June 3, 2005 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 24, 2006

Mayfly Species Paraleptophlebia adoptiva

These are very rarely called Red Quills.
This is the best Spring hatch after the Quill Gordons (Epeorus pleuralis) but before the Hendricksons (Ephemerella subvaria) in most parts of the East, although it can overlap with both. The Blue Quills are small mayflies (hook size 16-20) but they can hatch in incredible numbers at a time when eager trout are just beginning to look to the surface after a hungry winter.
Male Paraleptophlebia adoptiva (Blue Quill) Mayfly DunMale Paraleptophlebia adoptiva (Blue Quill) Mayfly Dun View 14 Pictures
Collected April 30, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 3, 2007
Male Paraleptophlebia adoptiva (Blue Quill) Mayfly SpinnerMale Paraleptophlebia adoptiva (Blue Quill) Mayfly Spinner View 7 PicturesBased on the pale longitudinal forewing veins (excepting the costals), dark middle terga (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.), and genitalia (Burks '53), this specimen is P. adoptiva.
Collected May 9, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 18, 2007

Mayfly Species Rhithrogena impersonata

These are very rarely called Red Quills.
This intriguing species has two distinct colors of nymphs, which were once considered to be different species. Most nymphs are a dark olive gray, but some are a surprisingly bright reddish brown. The red ones were once classified as Rhithrogena sanguinea. There is no apparent difference between the adults of the two varieties.
Rhithrogena impersonata (Dark Red Quill) Mayfly NymphRhithrogena impersonata (Dark Red Quill) Mayfly Nymph View 6 PicturesThis was the only Rhithrogena specimen in a large sample of nymphs from a small Catskill stream. It looks virtually identical to Rhithrogena impersonata specimens collected in the Midwest, but I didn't get to check the distinguishing features under a microscope.
Collected April 19, 2006 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on April 21, 2006

Mayfly Species Rhithrogena jejuna

These are very rarely called Red Quills.

Mayfly Species Ephemerella tibialis

These are very rarely called Red Quills.
Ehhemerella tibialis (Little Western Red Quill, Little Western Dark Hendrickson) is a common western species that can be very important at times. It is perhaps also one of the most confusing species. Unlike it's western generic counterparts the species is described as dark and their females produce dark eggs. Until recently, it was classified in the Serratella genus with species that share these traits. Regardless, it is the only small, dark ephemerellid the western angler is likely to find important. Favorite patterns used for size 18 Pale Morning Dun hatches tied in eastern Dark Hendrickson colors should be the ticket.

As with many of it's sister species it is widely adaptable and may be variable in its appearance. Scientific literature and many angling sources describe it as a small dark mayfly. Not everybody agrees. Ralph Cutter, West Coast author of several angler/entomology books and articles describes it in Sierra Trout Guide as a much larger pale mayfly and dubs it the Creamy Orange Dun. He also mentions the nymph as being easy to recognize by the feint dorsal (Dorsal: Top.) stripe running down its back and its often fiery brownish red color. These descriptions also match a variation of the ubiquitous and common Ephemerella excrucians.

Mayfly Species Rhithrogena undulata

These are very rarely called Red Quills.
This is one of the two most common species of Rhithrogena.
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