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Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns

Like most common names, "Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns" can refer to more than one taxon. They're previewed below, along with 5 specimens. For more detail click through to the scientific names.

Mayfly Family Leptophlebiidae

These are pretty much always called Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns.
The champions of this family are Leptophlebia and Paraleptophlebia. The large mayflies of Leptophlebia are on the water sporadically for a long time. The Paraleptophlebia flies are smaller but come in much more concentrated numbers.

Leptophlebiidae also contains several genera and species which are never mentioned in fly-fishing literature, either because they are too rare or because they require water too warm for trout.
Leptophlebia cupida (Black Quill) Mayfly NymphLeptophlebia cupida (Black Quill) Mayfly Nymph View 7 Pictures
Collected January 13, 2004 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on January 25, 2006
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 (Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns) Mayfly SpinnerMale Paraleptophlebia (Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns) Mayfly Spinner View 15 PicturesI wasn't actually fishing the river where I caught this one. I was just scouting, didn't like the look of the water, and as I was walking back to the car this little dun landed on my vest. Why can't they all be so easy to collect?
Collected September 8, 2006 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on October 4, 2006
Male Paraleptophlebia heteronea (Blue Quill) Mayfly AdultMale Paraleptophlebia heteronea (Blue Quill) Mayfly Adult View 1 Pictures
Collected May 16, 2012 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 18, 2012

Mayfly Genus Paraleptophlebia

These are pretty much always called Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns.
There are many species in this genus of mayflies, and some of them produce excellent hatches. Commonly known as Blue Quills or Mahogany Duns, they include some of the first mayflies to hatch in the Spring and some of the last to finish in the Fall.

In the East and Midwest, their small size (16 to 20, but mostly 18's) makes them difficult to match with old techniques. In the 1950s Ernest Schwiebert wrote in Matching the Hatch:

"The Paraleptophlebia hatches are the seasonal Waterloo of most anglers, for without fine tippets and tiny flies an empty basket is assured."

Fortunately, modern anglers with experience fishing hatches of tiny Baetis and Tricorythodes mayflies are better prepared for the two region's Paraleptophlebia. It's hard to make sense of so many species, but only one is very important and others can be considered in groups because they often hatch together:
In the West, it is a different story. For starters the species run much larger and can be imitated with flies as large as size 12, often size 14, and rarely smaller than 16. Another difference is the West has species with tusks! Many anglers upon first seeing them think they are immature burrowing nymphs of the species Ephemera simulans aka Brown Drake. With their large tusks, feathery gills, and slender uniform build, it's an easy mistake to make. Using groups again:
Paraleptophlebia (Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns) Mayfly NymphParaleptophlebia (Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns) Mayfly Nymph View 6 Pictures
Collected February 7, 2004 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on January 25, 2006
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 (Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns) Mayfly SpinnerMale Paraleptophlebia (Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns) Mayfly Spinner View 15 PicturesI wasn't actually fishing the river where I caught this one. I was just scouting, didn't like the look of the water, and as I was walking back to the car this little dun landed on my vest. Why can't they all be so easy to collect?
Collected September 8, 2006 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on October 4, 2006
Male Paraleptophlebia heteronea (Blue Quill) Mayfly AdultMale Paraleptophlebia heteronea (Blue Quill) Mayfly Adult View 1 Pictures
Collected May 16, 2012 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 18, 2012
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