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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to email me and I'll try to answer quickly. Maybe I'll even add it to this list.


  • How can I help improve (answer)
  • Can I use your images for (presentation, personal homepage, article, etc.)? (answer)
  • Are your pictures available in higher resolution for printing? (answer)
  • What camera(s) do you use? (answer)
  • Why do you say what rivers your pictures and specimens come from? Aren't you worried they'll be overrun with tens of millions of people from the Internet the day after you post a picture? (answer)
  • Isn't seining for nymphs illegal in Wisconsin, New York, or (your state here)? (answer)
  • When is your book coming out? (answer)
  • Why is there nothing to show scale in many of the photographs? (answer)
  • Can I submit my bug pictures to (answer)
  • How long have you been tying flies? (answer)
  • Does the number of specimens on this site indicate a species' population? (answer)
  • Why are there little dark spots all over some of the photos? (answer)
  • Are the insect pictures on this site in "true color?" (answer)
  • There's a species I can't find on your site. Where is it? (answer)


“How can I help improve”
The best way to help improve this site as a resource for all fly fishermen is to add your experiences with the various hatches. Use the new topic forms at the bottom of each hatch's page to share your own stories and observations.

If you have some expertise in insect identification, you're encouraged to similarly chime in on the specimen pages and help keep the photographic collection in order.
“Can I use your images for (presentation, personal homepage, article, etc.)?”
Yes, with some restrictions.

You cannot remove my name and the address of this site from any of the images without emailing me for permission. If you're using them in a document with a bibliography, list my site in it. If you want to use a few as decorations on a personal homepage or similar application, feel free, but don't start your own archive with my stuff. It's pretty straightforward. And, of course, I'd appreciate it if you put in a good word for my site wherever you use my images or videos, but that's not required.

In general, if you want to choose between crediting "Jason Neuswanger" or "" for a photo, credit "" (linked) so people see where to go for more photos.
“Are your pictures available in higher resolution for printing?”
Many of them are. Some of my cameras take such high-resolution photos that I shrink them to get the "full-size" pictures I put on the web. The pictures I have on the web should be suitable for almost any purpose, but if you need extremely high resolution, send me an email with a link to the picture you're looking for and I'll try to send you a better version.

Prints offered through the "Buy Print" links on this site are made using the highest resolution available.
“What camera(s) do you use?”
I use a Canon EOS 20D digital SLR for most of my photography, but I also carried a waterproof Pentax Optio WPi with me while fishing and used it for underwater pictures. Now I've replaced that one with a waterproof Canon D10 for 2011.

An article is coming soon detailing the lens and accessory system I use for the insect photography.
“Why do you say what rivers your pictures and specimens come from? Aren't you worried they'll be overrun with tens of millions of people from the Internet the day after you post a picture?”
I've gone back and forth on this, starting out showing locations, and then hiding them for years. Now, I show most locations, with a few exceptions:

  • I hide locations that I was told about in secret, even if they could withstand the attention.
  • I hide the most precious and sensitive small streams. (You'll see them as Mystery Creek #something.)
  • I hide the locations where I caught or photographed exceptional fish, so those photos show up in the "Trout & River Pictures" section but their location is hidden. I make an exception to this for places anyone who's ever held a fly rod already knows about. For example, I'm not doing much harm if I let slip this little "secret" right here: The Kenai River in Alaska has some really, really, really big trout. Also, psssssst, did you hear the West Branch of the Delaware has some nice trout in it? Only me and these one million other guys know about it...

I switched back to showing locations in general because it's the most logical way to organize all the non-bug pictures on this site, and it adds meaning to all the pictures and specimens when you can see where they're from and which ones come from the same place.

I kept them hidden for years because I originally had a backlash from people who didn't like seeing their home river's name (including such top-secret rivers as Beaverkill) mentioned on a popular website. They feared that every angler in the world, having never heard of the Beaverkill, would swarm to it and wipe out the entire trout population within minutes (or something like that).

I think that fear is unjustified. There is information on all these streams online, in books, and in state agency publications; that's how I found them. Fishing pressure (especially from catch & release fly fishermen) is probably not even on the first page of the list of dangers to some of these streams. Those that might be at risk from pressure are already so well-known that mentioning them here changes nothing. All of these streams need friends more than they need their privacy.
“Isn't seining for nymphs illegal in Wisconsin, New York, or (your state here)?”
It depends on the state.

The spirit behind these laws is to keep bait dealers from wrecking ecosystems by mass collecting insects (usually hellgrammites or Hexagenia mayfly nymphs) to sell as bait. Small scale collection for educational/scientific purposes does no such harm, and in states where the law by some oversight does not allow for it, local state biologists and wardens are usually understanding and flexible when approached for permission. I recommend you seek permission if your state has such laws, but I can't imagine a game warden anywhere writing someone a ticket for small scale bug collecting. Maybe you'd get to appear in an episode of Ephemerella's Most Wanted.

I've collected most of what's on this site in Wisconsin and New York. In Wisconsin my collecting is legal but the regulation pamphlets suggest otherwise, so I had to talk to DNR personnel familiar with the actual statutes. In New York, this kind of collecting is illegal without a permit, so I got the permit.

If your state restricts collection and you aren't able to get a permit, see if the law is specific to trout streams. If so, then you may be able to collect aquatic insects from other streams without any problem. Your local warmwater streams probably have many species in common with your trout streams.
“When is your book coming out?”
Ha-ha, I wish! :) I would love to publish an angling book. One thing I've learned in creating this site is that there's a big void in the fly fishing literature when it comes to insect species identification. Excellent writers (like Schwiebert, Arbona, and LaFontaine) have published fine references on the hatching behavior and recommended patterns for various species, and the USGS Mayflies of the United States is a great reference for their distribution, but there is a terrible lack of information that might allow confident determination of one species over another. Almost all such information is in obscure scientific papers which aren't available online, even privately, and aren't found in most public or university libraries.
“Why is there nothing to show scale in many of the photographs?”
Including scale is more tricky than you might expect, because insects like to scurry around rather than pose nicely next to a ruler. When I started this site in January 2004, the insects were not at their mature hatching size, so tying flies to match their sizes would have been a mistake.

I tried to include at least one picture to show scale for each specimen I photographed in 2005. Most of these were photographed at the right time of year, and I had refined my handling methods enough to get them to cooperate.
“Can I submit my bug pictures to”
Not yet, but contact me if you're interested. Adding proper support for user-submitted specimens is a complicated task with some legal issues and many technical issues to work out. It's something I'm strongly considering for the future, but for now I'm just keeping a list of interested photographers.
“How long have you been tying flies?”
Since about 9 pm on November 3, 2003, when I received an Orvis fly-tying kit for my 23rd birthday. I have taken an occasional break to eat or sleep.
“Does the number of specimens on this site indicate a species' population?”

I photograph a specimen if I find one of something new, if I find one that looks like it might be something new, if I find one that looks particularly large or intact or lively or colorful or... you get the idea. I'm really aiming for variety.
“Why are there little dark spots all over some of the photos?”
Those are "dust spots," an unfortunate consequence of using digital SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses under certain conditions. When I switch lenses, tiny particles of dust can enter the chamber holding the camera's sensor. These particles are attracted to the electrically charged surface of the sensor cover, and they show up in the picture as small dark spots.

The problem is most severe at "narrow apertures (Aperture: The aperture is one of the main settings a camera or photographer determines before taking a picture. It is the diameter of the opening in the inside of the lens through which light can pass, and it varies from picture to picture.)," aka "higher f-stops," which in non-photographer lingo means all the light is coming through a tiny little restriction in the lens. This allows for a greater focus range, which is very important for close-up photos of insects, but it also exaggerates the dust spots.

I've learned how to combat them quite well, but I took many of the photos on this site before I understood how to deal with dust. I've tried to eliminate the dust spots in the existing photos with a complex digital filter, but a few may still remain.
“Are the insect pictures on this site in "true color?"”
Not exactly.

True color is very difficult to define, because it depends not only on the color of the subject, but also on the color of the light hitting it. The colors trout see are even more variable, because they're often viewing the subject through tinted water, or at a depth that transmits short wavelengths poorly.

Since it's difficult to simulate the colors our eyes will see, and impossible to show the colors the fish will see, it's a moot point to try to show a picture of the exact color your flies should be to imitate a certain insect. A decent approximation will usually work.

With that in mind, I decided to process the pictures on this site for a vibrant appearance rather than strict color accuracy. This makes it easier to detect subtle hues and some color patterns which are used for identification. These colors are close to the colors you would see on the real insect under a bright white light with a magnifying glass, rather than what you'll see under normal conditions. It is a good idea to slightly mute the colors seen here when tying imitations.

The pictures from the 2004 edition of the site are particularly inaccurate, because I didn't really know what I was doing. The newer pictures taken with the Canon 20D are better in every respect.
“There's a species I can't find on your site. Where is it?”
This can happen for any of three reasons:

  • It doesn't exist anymore, because it's been reclassified and/or combined with another species. This has happened to many well-known mayfly species, such as Ephemerella rotunda, which was combined with Ephemerella invaria. If you think this may be the problem, go to the species list page on Purdue's Mayfly Central website and use your browser's search function to see if there's a new name for it.
  • It's not a North American species.
  • I just haven't written anything for it yet or taken any pictures.
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