Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > Baetid Confusion, Page 2

This topic is about the Mayfly Family Baetidae

"These little critters supplant the importance of many other well-known mayfly hatches."

-Fred Arbona in Mayflies, the Angler, and the Trout

Arbona did not overestimate these critters. Their great numbers and multiple broods each season make up for their size, which is rarely larger than size 16 and often smaller than size 20.

Hardly mentioned in angling literature prior to the middle of the last century, baetids have become increasingly important to anglers, rivaling any other family of mayflies in this regard. This is largely due to the extension of fishing seasons that now include the early and late periods when this familys species usually dominate hatching activity. Another important reason is the tremendous improvement in tackle allowing more practical imitation of these little mayflies. The dramatic ecological changes in many of our watersheds and the subsequent impact this has had on the makeup of taxa populations is also a factor.

Taxonomically speaking, this is a most unruly family. The entomological community seems to be perpetually reclassifying its genera and species to the chagrin of many anglers. These changes are not capricious. The reason is older nomenclatures haven't provided the taxonomic flexibility required as more becomes known about the complexities of baetid relationships. Classification of this familys genera and species is very much a work in progress. The changes have been so extensive that it is beyond the scope of this hatch page to track the taxonomic history effectively without interjecting even more confusion. If you are frustrated by the inability to find some of the old familiar names, you're not alone. Rest assured these popular hatches are listed here, just under the latest classifications. The old famous names are referenced in their hatch pages.

Common baetid hatches with a national distribution are the species Acentrella turbida, Baetis brunneicolor, and Baetis tricaudatus. In the West, Baetis bicaudatus, Diphetor hageni and Plauditus punctiventris can also be common. In the East and the Midwest, look for Baetis intercalaris and Plauditus dubius. The species Iswaeon anoka is important in both the West and Midwest. Some of the Procloeon and Anafroptilum (prev. Centroptilum) species are coming to the increasing notice of anglers across the country.

Stillwater anglers are likely to run across Callibaetis ferrugineus ferrugineus in the East and Midwest. Western anglers will find Callibaetis californicus and Callibaetis ferrugineus hageni to be very important.

Streamside identification of these mayflies to specific and often even generic level has always been difficult. This is now even more so as new taxonomic evidence has shown hind wing conformation (or lack of hind wings) and other features are less dependable as ways to tell the genera apart. Many of the lesser-known species probably produce excellent local hatches but have not caught enough attention to be properly recognized by anglers. The lesson is that we should not assume anything about the identity of many Baetidae hatches we come across; they may not even be in the Baetis genus, let alone familiar species. Read more...

There are 94 more specimens...

The Discussion

OldredbarnJanuary 24th, 2011, 8:42 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Roger & Tim,

I almost don't want to say anything more. This thread is what this site is all about and Tim's last comment there should put a cap on it since so many interesting things have been said.

I'll just give a short analogy to maybe explain another way to look at it. Many years ago I sold surveying equipment and was part of the team that sold the Michigan Department Of Transportaion Design group their first ever GPS receivers.

The satelites that made this science possible belong to the department of defense and were not really intended to help surveyors. Some smart guys figured out a way to use the signals from these satelites to do some high end mapping etc. The department of defense can fiddle with the signals or even move the satelites around for their particular purposes and leave the surveying users out of the loop.

The entomologists/scientists are basically doing their thing for their paticular purposes and some of us curious anglers have tried to incorporate their knowledge in to our sport...Science has to do it's thing and the rest of us will just have to adapt or just "go fishing" as Tim said...

Roger, "observation & experience" are important to science and us "older" anglers are pretty damn good at it too, especially when it comes to fooling the wily trout...

"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
EntomanJanuary 25th, 2011, 3:12 am
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Hi Jason,

Thanks for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to answer my questions and add to the general discussion. This long thread really has two different "strands" consisting of multiple points and counter points that you effectively managed to address in your single post. Not an easy task since it's hard not to take some of them out of context.

Fortunately the new changes aren't radical enough to affect our ability to do this. Most life-history differences that matter for fishing are distinguished at a high enough taxonomic level that they're immune from the species or even genus-level tinkering.

Admittedly true to a point... I concede information most relative to fishing is at the familial level. But there are some differences within families in terms of form, behavior and habitat that are important to angling success, i.e. "cracking the code" so to speak. There is no question that proposed/accepted(?) generic "shuffling" for lack of a better term (particularly in the Baetidae, Ephemerellidae, and Heptageniidae), has made these differences more difficult to ascertain in the field for many genera. Especially on "new" water where you don't have the benefit of previous experience & research.

Ernest Schwiebert in his later writings lamented these changes and refused to use (for purposes of discussion) many of the taxonomic changes occurring.

I wrote this poorly and did a disservice to Mr. Schwiebert. My understanding of his backround is that he was a profound lover of science and its advancement. What I should have said was NOT that he lamented "proposed taxonomic changes" but rather their imprudent use in fly fishing literature. He was worried about potential damage to the "movement" he started... and what to do to preserve it. I allude to this later in the thread.

If we want to be scientifically attuned anglers, we can't just pick a snapshot of past scientific results and run with it indefinitely. We can stay up-to-date, or we can use common names and just go fishing, or we can even personally choose to use old scientific names at times with the disclaimer that we know we're doing it.

As to the first sentence, agreed... It certainly wasn't my intent to pooh-pooh that notion, though I certainly see how it could be taken that way. I guess my whole point really boils down to discerning between solid results that take root and those results still contested that are later determined to be wrong. If "scientifically attuned" anglers blindly accept the latest species concepts while still very much in the proposal stage, I would think it could lead to many becoming "out of tune." My engaging in hyperbole didn't help to make my point, but wanting to slow down in terms of the wholesale throwing out of existing names without reference (at least for our purposes) shouldn't equate to some kind of "Church vs. Galileo" polemic.

But what we should not do is belittle or reject the new changes because of convenience or communication concerns... If we turn around and complain about that scientific rigor when it becomes inconvenient for us.

Beware the attack of the Luddites!! Of course you're right. Taking your warning in context, be assured the intent is to question, not belittle or reject. Did I engage in unfounded hyperbole regarding the dark side of human nature's influence on Academia? Yes, so please allow me to pull my foot out of it and apologize. Especially since I see one of the prime "evil doers" contributed to this topic! Ha Ha! However, I do reserve the right to avoid being "inconvenienced" unnecessarily. The core issue I tried to raise is potentially losing the ability to determine generic level in the field... and possibly species back in the study. Not a matter of convenience, a matter of passion...

That's similar to my policy for this site. I want to keep it as current as I can taxonomically, but build in references to well-known former names to combat confusion.

I guess this means we agree after all. Of course, a lot depends on what we mean by "current". Is there an updated generally accepted monograph or paper extant that codifies all these revisions in one location akin to Biology of Mayflies? I'm not aware of one and I don't profess to know how fully accepted a lot of these revisions truly are in the scientific community, let alone the ones soon to come down the pike. I think Purdue publishes a valid species list they update... Is that what you go by?

BTW - Thanks for clarifying the disciplines. So is it safe to say that Entomology is the field of study where the classification of insects take place, in consultation with taxonomists and systematists not to mention other specializd fields? But not always as some of these disciplines/names can be applied/attributed to entomologists as well? No longer peeved, just dizzy (at least about this topic)! Very informative... Thanks again!

Best regards,


"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
OldredbarnJanuary 25th, 2011, 6:41 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Praise be to Neros Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybodys shouting
Which Side Are You On?
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captains tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Bob Dylan
"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
GutcutterJanuary 25th, 2011, 5:56 pm

Posts: 470
Yes, bur doesn't phylogeny recapitulate ontogeny? :)
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
EntomanJanuary 25th, 2011, 10:06 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Hi Tony,

A tad esoteric, but my wife would concur. She firmly believes that my dog and I are proof. On the other hand she may further stipulate that neither of us have diverged from the embryonic stage anyway, so her evidence is weak. Ironically, the genetic testing that I guess I've been disparaging a little is what gets me off the hook since it causes more than a few problems with the concept. Have we long since "gone from the ridiculous to the sublime" on this thread? Thought I'd ask...

Best regards,

"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
Re: mayfly common names
In General Discussion by Konchu
10Nov 30, 2006
by DMM
Re: Where's Taxon or Gonzo?
In Penelomax septentrionalis Mayfly Nymph by Oldredbarn
7Jan 22, 2010
by Taxon
Re: i posted this in the forum, but...
In the Insect Order Ephemeroptera by Rckrego
1Apr 18, 2007
by Troutnut
Re: White Miller Bug
In the Caddisfly Species Nectopsyche albida by MIKE54
3May 4, 2013
by Adirman
Re: Au Sable Holy Waters Sulphurs
In General Discussion by Brian314
16Jul 18, 2019
by Oldredbarn
Re: Caddis sedge
In Fly Tying by FredH
5Sep 1, 2012
by Entoman
Re: Baetis doesn't look like a BWO!!
In Female Baetis Mayfly Dun by Adirman
10Sep 12, 2010
by Martinlf
Re: cahills
In the Mayfly Genus Stenacron by LittleJ
8Dec 1, 2006
by Troutnut
Re: A Strange One
In the Identify This! Board by Taxon
10Aug 27, 2006
by Flymedic
Re: Taxonomy
In the Arthropod Class Crustacea-Malacostraca by DMM
2Dec 1, 2006
by DMM
Most Recent Posts
Re: Timpanoga hecuba
In the Identify This! Board by Leskorcala
Boulder-hopping on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie
In Site Updates by Troutnut
Re: Fly Fishing Rookie
In Gear Talk by Tor (Troutnut replied)
Re: Exploring up the Skykomish
In Site Updates by Troutnut (Martinlf replied)
Re: mean one thing, write another?
In Male Onocosmoecus unicolor Caddisfly Adult by Creno
Stuck on the family ID on this one -- any thoughts?
In Female Plecoptera Stonefly Adult by Troutnut
Quick evening on the upper Yakima
In Site Updates by Troutnut
Smoky float down the Yakima Canyon
In Site Updates by Troutnut
Quick stop on the Green River
In Site Updates by Troutnut
Site updates from September 5, 2020
In Site Updates by Troutnut