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Al514September 26th, 2007, 9:19 pm
Central New York

Posts: 142
There were hundreds upon hundreds of these doing their "dance" all over a small stream this evening. I think its so interesting watching the spinners fall and rise so many times, over and over and over again. No luck on the fishing end - low water makes these trout spook at the slightest movement. Sorry the picture isn't the best, my camera and I weren't on the same page tonight.
TaxonSeptember 27th, 2007, 2:42 am
Site Editor
Royse City, TX

Posts: 1348

Sure don't think that photo is anything for which you should be apologizing. Shoot, it's great. In any event, your mayfly looks to me like a male Paraleptophlebia imago, likely P. debilis, also sometimes referred to as a Jenny Spinner.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
SofthackleSeptember 27th, 2007, 5:46 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Nice shot. Many trout fishermen often ignore spinners. That's a mistake from my point of view.

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
GeneSeptember 27th, 2007, 8:07 am
Posts: 107Gentlemen:

I agree with Taxon that is definitely a a male Paraleptophlebia spinner. There used to be a lot of them on Spruce Creek in the late summer and fall. Variations of that group were also on Falling Springs where it was fall hatch just about this time of the year.

The Duns are usually called the Chocolate Dun in some areas of the country; they are quite pronounced with their dark bodies and dark blue dun wings.

Nice photo

tight lines and rising trout


MartinlfSeptember 27th, 2007, 8:14 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
I have heard that some, if not all late season Paralep spinners (P. mollis etc.) return to land to die as opposed to falling on the water to create a fishable spinner fall. Is this true?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TaxonSeptember 27th, 2007, 9:44 am
Site Editor
Royse City, TX

Posts: 1348

I have heard that some, if not all Paralep spinners return to land to die as opposed to falling on the water to create a fishable spinner fall. Is this true?

It is not unusual for mayflies to mistake other large reflective surfaces for moving water. Also, it is generally necessary to think of the male and female mayfly post-copulation behaviors separately. However, in the case of Paraleptophlebia, assuming the mating swarm has actually formed over water, as opposed to having formed over some other reflective surface, both female and male imagoes expire in the water.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
GeneSeptember 28th, 2007, 2:05 pm
Posts: 107Martin:

think of it this way: if all the spinners died on land what would happen to the species over time! Mayflies especially Hex, Green Drakes etc. often die in large masses near street lights near cities and bridges. Parts of the Mississippi are are so covered with the flies that they need bulldozers to get the bodies off the roads. If I can find an old photo of this I'll post it. Yet the species survive because most of those flies that emerge get back to the water to reproduce.

You were right on the Miller's stuff. I have another one I can't find from where but I'll post it here.

tight lines and nymphs dancing in your head

MartinlfSeptember 28th, 2007, 5:10 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Gene, Roger,

What I was told, by a fellow who should know, is that late season/summer paraleps such as P. mollis often shed their eggs over the riffles, then fly to the bushes and collapse there. I've never seen summer paralep spinners on the water, though I've waited and waited for them to fall a few times. It's not that I don't believe you, I just for a long time had sought an answer for why I hadn't seen them on the water but in the air, then a very experienced guide gave me the answer I mentioned above, and I believed it so long that now it's hard not to wonder if there's some truth in his claim. Would a paralep expert please weigh in here and shut me up once and for all? Konchu?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GeneSeptember 28th, 2007, 9:17 pm
Posts: 107Martin:

Your guide may or not be right on a certain stream but I fished the spinner falls on Spruce Creek and I've seen them come down--- both males and females on other streams as well. I'm not saying that what the guide says is wrong but I also know as an aquatic ecologist and entomologist that there is a lot of myth that creeps into our fly fishing game.

Do the flies actually fly to the bushes or trees and then come back again perhaps in the middle of the night? Because I've seen many mayfly species go to the so called trees and then come back at 3:00 a.m. or so in the morning! Why? I don't know unless it's some evolutionary trick or environmental conditions cause it.

I've heard the same thing about March Browns. They never get to the water! I've watched them for hours on Penns and other streams and they dance, form groups but...go back to the trees again and aqain when the anglers are fishing. But I've found tons of dead March Brown spinners on streams at day break. So they must get to the water somehow because these things seldom come down during the early evening.

But one night on Yellow Creek I got up because I couldn't sleep and decided to check out the stream. I got a flash light and was hit in the face by insects. March Brown spinners.... they were everywhere and the stream was covered. I've seen the same thing on Penns while fishing the Drake all night so the Paralepts may actually get down on some streams when no one is around.

Another factor is that these flies are translucent and a very hard to see on the water. Many anglers miss them. Also, some fishing mags over the years have featured them as trikes and many fly angler mistake them for trikes. On Spruce Creek I have fished them one time in the early afternoon(returning spinners) and the fish took them readily (right above a bridge next to the private club area if any of you have fished there).

So I have seen them come down and unless one is on the stream at all times it my be harder than we think to ascertain when certain species return especially with climate changes over the last 10 years or so.

tight lines and rising trout

The river sleeps and the wood nymphs dance
but soon the Gods will awake from their slumber,
And the waters will boil and Dryades will run
but Potamedies will rise from the depths,
And the trout will chase her children.

MartinlfSeptember 29th, 2007, 5:50 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Gene, thanks for the information. It all makes sense. A few years back Don Douple pointed out to me that Paraleps dance more straight up and down than Trikes, some of which will have a more side to side motion, so I don't mix them up as much now. By the way, which poem does the quotation come from? You're killing me on these. :)
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GeneSeptember 29th, 2007, 2:06 pm
Posts: 107Martin:

Don is correct. When I guide or teach entomology to fly anglers that's the easiest way I try to explain how to tell them apart at a distance. The trikes are in sort of wild ball going side to side and the Paralepts do the up and down dance.

Sorry about the poem...I made it up...not too bad for a scientist

eh! I went through all courses of the Norton Anthologies of Eng. lit etc. as well as the mythology texts even though I was Bio major in undergrad. That's where all the honeys were if you know what I mean!

tight lines and I leave you this one ....from guess which writer:


Persephone,fulfill my wish,
And grant that in the shades below
Thy ghost may seek the ghosts of fish!
CaseyPSeptember 29th, 2007, 3:00 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653

gene--nifty poem, and look where i found it...this gent is not alone in his wishes, i'm sure!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
KonchuSeptember 29th, 2007, 8:45 pm
Site Editor

Posts: 505
Looks like P. deblilis to me, based on the of fresh specimens of this relatively common species that I've been seeing recently.

I'm not sure about the behavior of the female spinners; most of my observations have been limited to the males. Seems strange that they'd move to land after laying eggs, unless they were waiting to lay more later. What's the advantage?

I'm tempted to write my own poem, but it would be haiku.

GeneSeptember 29th, 2007, 10:36 pm
Posts: 107Casey:

That's really neat! I got that little verse out of Schwiebert's Nymphs right before the Contents page. I'll save the Times article.

tight lines and nymphs for everyone


I only fish on four occasions: week ends, week days, and when it rains and when it dosen't
MartinlfSeptember 30th, 2007, 4:49 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Gene, I liked your poem. Here's the whole text of Andrew Lang's poem, which is, I believe, a translation from an ancient Greek text:


Within the streams, Pausanias saith,
That down Cocytus valley flow,
Girdling the grey domain of Death,
The spectral fishes come and go;
The ghosts of trout flit to and fro.
Persephone, fulfil my wish,
And grant that in the shades below
My ghost may land the ghosts of fish.

Here's another by Lang, though I'm not sure quite what to make of the end:


The Angler hath a jolly life
Who by the rail runs down,
And leaves his business and his wife,
And all the din of town.
The wind down stream is blowing straight,
And nowhere cast can he:
Then lo, he doth but sit and wait
In kindly company.

The miller turns the water off,
Or folk be cutting weed,
While he doth at misfortune scoff,
From every trouble freed.
Or else he waiteth for a rise,
And ne'er a rise may see;
For why, there are not any flies
To bear him company.

Or, if he mark a rising trout,
He straightway is caught up,
And then he takes his flasket out,
And drinks a rousing cup.
Or if a trout he chance to hook,
Weeded and broke is he,
And then he finds a godly book
Instructive company.

"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
MartinlfNovember 28th, 2010, 9:44 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Here's the old Paralep thread. I don't believe anyone gave a definitive answer on this one. The guide I mention may be Eric Stroup of Spruce Creek Fly Company, but I'm not sure now.

I just remembered that I have seen lots of Paralep spinners on the water--last season, on the West Branch of the Delaware. Adoptivas (the early blue quills), though, not mollis. I think it's the later Paraleps such as P. mollis (with the Jenny Spinner pictured above) that I was told fly back to land to die. They are the ones that seem to dance up and down over the water for hours in the summer without seeming to fall.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GutcutterNovember 29th, 2010, 4:18 am

Posts: 470
i have fished many P. adoptiva spinner falls in northcentral PA freestones in late april. often times they don't start to fall until just before or sometimes after dark and the trout rise well to them. they can be mixed in with E. subvaria spinners and sometimes the trout will take either, but more often each fish is keyed into one or the other. makes for fun (and often very cold) hatchmatching.
the hatch is also fun because the bait fishermen are gone by that time of day and i'll often have a pool or two to myself or to share with a friend.
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
MartinlfNovember 29th, 2010, 12:29 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Sounds good, Tony, especially in late November, when mostly midges (if anything) are hatching.

And I'm also wondering again about those P. mollis spinners. Has anyone encountered a fishable fall of those late season "Jenny spinners"? They sometimes show up on the same streams as Tricos, and have been mistaken for them by more than one angler.

(Tricos have a more side to side dance, while P. mollis spinners move more up and down.)
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
OldredbarnNovember 29th, 2010, 2:20 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608

I second your above obsevation. Those folks who set their clocks by hatch charts would be surprised when we told them that mother nature can't tell time. She's not necessarily doing her thing according to our whims or perceptions...I have had startled angling friends tell me enough times, to maybe make it so, that they have left a bar and decided to pause on a bridge crossing the river, probably to relieve themselves, only to find feeding fish down there. They were even more surprised to find I was just upstream a couple bends from the bridge having a good-old-time!

Here's to things that go bump in the night.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GutcutterNovember 30th, 2010, 8:04 am

Posts: 470
spence - good thing you were upstream of the bladder emptying, stream warming, water raising, drunken fishermen.

louis - as i think about it, during a trico outing in august (shawn and bruce were there) there was a hatch at the end of the trico spinners that didn't appear to be an olive but looked a lot like the mayfly in the photo. the photo at the start of this thread allows me to believe that these are quite small and easily confused with tricos (as you have described) or small baetis (but with a color difference). i erronously called them "caenis" and i was corrected by gonzo for the wings were upright at rest. i didn't pay much attention to it as trout were rising to the duns and a generic small fly was working (a 22 sprout).
i didn't stick around for the spinners so this is all the info i have.
i guess that means that we have an excuse to fish together again to see if this is the "jenny spinner" or not and to see if the spinners fall into the water...
sounds like work to me!! i love that kind of work
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness

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