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Green Drakes

Like most common names, "Green Drake" 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 Ephemera guttulata

These are pretty much always called Green Drakes.
Ephemera guttulata's size, numbers, and hatching characteristics have made it a favorite of fly fishermen since the sport first came to our waters. Caucci and Nastasi described the addiction in Hatches II:

"To many afflicted Eastern fishermen, the 'Green Drake Hatch' is as irresistable and habit-forming as black jack, whiskey, or easy women."

It is on par with the Midwest's Hexagenia limbata hatch for its ability to lure huge piscivorous (Piscivorous: Anything which eats primarily fish is a piscivore.) brown trout to eat insects at the surface once a year. The special charm of the Green Drake hatch is that it often takes place during pleasant Spring afternoons. It can be challenging because the large flies are easy for trout to inspect in the daylight and they feed very selectively, especially late in the hatch.

The Green Drakes are on the decline due to environmental degradation.
Female Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) Mayfly DunFemale Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) Mayfly Dun View 16 PicturesIt's about time I got a green drake on this site!
Collected June 1, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 4, 2007
Male Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) Mayfly SpinnerMale Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) Mayfly Spinner View 12 PicturesThis spinner was the only member of its species I saw all night during an incredibly thick and tricky mixed hatch on Penn's Creek a few days before the real start of its famous green drake hatch.
Collected May 26, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 4, 2007

Mayfly Species Drunella grandis

These are sometimes called Green Drakes.
This species (or rather group of subspecies (Subspecies: Entomologists sometimes further divide a species into distinct groups called subspecies, which have two lower-case words on the end of their scientific name instead of one. The latter is the sub-species name. For example, Maccaffertium mexicanum mexicanum and Maccaffertium mexicanum integrum are two different subspecies of Maccaffertium mexicanum.)), together with Drunella doddsii, make up the famous Western Green Drake hatches. They are widespread throughout the vast Western region and can be abundant enough in many locations to provide world class angling.

It hasn't been all that many years since Western traditions and entomological "facts on the ground" began to influence the angler's lexicon heavily dominated by Eastern writers. Their initial reporting after visiting the region first popularized the phrase "Rocky Mountains answer to the popular Green Drakes of the East". This led to a false impression that lingers to this day. The reality is these giants of their family have abundant populations all over the West with no counterpart in the East, and the West does have abundant hatches of comparable Ephemeridae. The Western tradition of naming outsized Mayflies "Drakes" is the reason for what many consider a misnomer by giving it the same common name as the legendary Ephemerid of the East and surely contributed to confusion for anglers unconcerned with such subtleties.
Drunella grandis (Western Green Drake) Mayfly NymphDrunella grandis (Western Green Drake) Mayfly Nymph View 2 Pictures
Collected June 5, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 28, 2011
Female Drunella grandis (Western Green Drake) Mayfly DunFemale Drunella grandis (Western Green Drake) Mayfly Dun View 3 Pictures
Collected June 29, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 28, 2011
Drunella grandis (Western Green Drake) Mayfly AdultDrunella grandis (Western Green Drake) Mayfly Adult View 3 Pictures
Collected June 30, 2010 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 29, 2011

Mayfly Species Drunella doddsii

These are very rarely called Green Drakes.
This species together with the Drunella grandis sub-species make up the Western Green Drake hatch. Besides being smaller, the adults are difficult to tell apart from it's larger siblings; but D. doddsi nymphs have a few peculiar traits that set them apart. D. doddsi looks much thicker in the thorax (Thorax: The thorax is the middle part of an insect's body, in between the abdomen and the head, and to which the legs and wings are attached.), has a flat frontal head margin and a unique oval disk-like ring of hairs on its ventral (Ventral: Toward or on the bottom.) surface. However, There are very few differences between the habits of these two species, and they are almost always discussed together in fly fishing books, so for many of the characteristics of doddsii, refer to the Drunella grandis page.
Drunella doddsii (Western Green Drake) Mayfly NymphDrunella doddsii (Western Green Drake) Mayfly Nymph View 12 Pictures
Collected July 17, 2011 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on July 20, 2011
Female Drunella doddsii (Western Green Drake) Mayfly DunFemale Drunella doddsii (Western Green Drake) Mayfly Dun View 7 PicturesI still haven't got my good camera gear set up, but I wanted to get my first Alaskan bug specimen online, so I photographed this one with my point+shoot in the raft.
Collected July 8, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on July 19, 2007

Mayfly Species Hexagenia limbata

These are very rarely called Green Drakes.
It starts like a rise of small trout. There are dimples on the surface, little fingerlings eating midges, perhaps. But these are no fish. The water breaks and up pop the yellow sails of a giant Hexagenia dun, then another and another. A vortex appears in a flash below the mayfly and it vanishes in a slurp so loud it echoes off the distant bank. A square tail like a shark fin breaks the surface behind the swirl as a brown trout twice the size of your net turns back toward his deeper lair. The Hex hatch is on.

This Midwestern legend plays out every year on calm, dark, humid nights in early July. Anglers who only fly fish once a year drive hundreds of miles to play their part in the drama, while the mayflies themselves make the television news by showing up on doppler radar or calling snowplows out of dormancy to remove layers of Hexagenia duns from the bridges. In the cold trout rivers of Wisconsin and Michigan, huge nocturnal brown trout whose usual menu consists of smaller browns become, for a week or so, prime dry fly quarry.

According to the literature, these are the second largest mayflies in the United States, behind the related Litobrancha recurvata flies. However, there are credible reports of limbata exceeding 40mm in some locales that challenge this assumption.
Hexagenia limbata (Hex) Mayfly NymphHexagenia limbata (Hex) Mayfly Nymph View 9 Pictures
Collected June 8, 2005 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 26, 2006
Male Hexagenia limbata (Hex) Mayfly DunMale Hexagenia limbata (Hex) Mayfly Dun View 7 Pictures
Collected June 28, 2005 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 26, 2006
Male Hexagenia limbata (Hex) Mayfly SpinnerMale Hexagenia limbata (Hex) Mayfly Spinner View 13 Pictures
Collected June 26, 2005 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 26, 2006

Mayfly Species Hexagenia rigida

These are very rarely called Green Drakes.
This species is reportedly important in places, but it is not discussed very much in angling literature. I suspect its importance is very localized.
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