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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 family’s 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 family’s 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 79 more specimens...

The Discussion

EntomanOctober 25th, 2011, 11:12 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
I wanted to share a couple of patterns that have proven very successful over the years (and the last several weeks in particular) when baetids are about. They hale from England where they have been popular for a very long time. Their construction is simple - silk thread, a wing covert or shoulder hackle, bee's wax, and maybe the merest smidgen of natural dubbing on a few of them. No plastic flash, no head cement, just natural materials delicately applied. There's something very elegant in their understated appearance, and boy do they work! Their thin bodies and sparseness ape the baetids perfectly and the hook set is enhanced as well.

Fished dead drift or under a controlled swing with the rod elevated, they can be deadly when the small stuff is awash in the drift. The two patterns below are the Waterhen Bloa and the Snipe & Purple both in the class of wet flies called North Country Spiders. I find them especially valuable for fishing during baetid spinner activity on freestone rivers in the moderate to slow current sections. They also work fishing "under" the hatch of duns. I never know which one they will prefer, nor have I found any increase in catch rate by doubling up on the one they do for that day, so I just tie 'em both on and leave it be.

Size 16 Waterhen Bloa



Size 18 Snipe & Purple
"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
SofthackleOctober 26th, 2011, 9:38 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Kurt,
Both flies are nicely tied. The Bloa is an especially good fly and to me is a perfect blend of materials and technique. The S & P is also a great favorite among lovers of these flies. It is a very old pattern indeed and is actually the predecessor of the popular Iron Blue Dun.

The North Country Flies, also called Soft-hackles, are, traditionally, fished upstream according to Stewart, and gives them a historical connection to the dry fly. With importation to the US By Leisenring, the great American wet-fly master, via Skues, and later promoted by Vern Hidy and Sylvester Nemes, the wingless wet flies have been growing in popularity. More and more fly fishermen are recognizing their effectiveness and their versatility.

As an artist these flies have a special-less is more- appeal to them and contributes greatly to their versatility and effectiveness. Also, the soft hackle and, sometime, dubbed bodies, lend motion and life to these flies. I have only occasionally had to rely on another style of fly to catch trout. Generally, matching one of these flies to the hatching insect yields good fishing.

Kurt, consider this beauty designed and tied by my good friend Hans Weilenmann. During our Baetis hatches, here, this fly has cleaned house. I tie it on size 14-18, but instead of using Partridge, which is often too large for smaller flies, I like Coq de leon hen in a natural gray color.(A simple gray hen or bird hackle would work as well.) These hackles are smaller for those tiny ties.
http://www.danica.com/FLYTIER/hweilenmann/partridge_olive_emerger.htm

Mark





"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
EntomanOctober 26th, 2011, 2:48 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Hi Mark,

A couple of comments on these flies I hadn't noticed until seeing them in these photos under magnification. The shoulder and body feathers sure have a unique structure, almost like tiny super saddles. Now there's hackle for size 300 hooks.:) Is this why Stewart, Pritt, et.al, preferred them to regular hackle? Also, the look of the thread with beeswax surprised me a little. The primrose takes on a waxy pale olive appearance that looks as much like a baetis body as any material I've seen.

It is a very old pattern indeed and is actually the predecessor of the popular Iron Blue Dun.

Interesting... I didn't know that. I have no idea why the purple works, but if that's what the fish want, that's what they're gonna get. Those are flies directly from my box and both have been bloodied (notice the little dried particles of fish slime hanging around the purple). I've read before somewhere that a popular color for the british olive ephemerellids is orange, could they have come to the same conclusion regarding purple for baetids? Who knows how fish really perceive color, I guess.

...consider this beauty designed and tied by my good friend Hans Weilenmann. During our Baetis hatches, here, this fly has cleaned house. I tie it on size 14-18 ...

You're right, it's a beaut. Looks like my collection is going to get a little larger.:) I love the small head, which is one of the things given up using Pearsalls all the way through. Gossamer isn't so gossamer.:) The head on an 18 is almost as big as the head on a 12.

I tie it on size 14-18, but instead of using Partridge, which is often too large for smaller flies...

Brother, isn't that the truth. I often joke that Soft Hackles are among the quickest flies to tie (not that they are easy to do right)... If you don't count the time finding and preparing the proper materials.:) Particularly for the smaller sizes.

Regards,

Kurt
"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
SofthackleOctober 26th, 2011, 4:17 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Hi Kurt,
The bird feathers like partridge, starling, waterhen, snipe, etc, all have a more thicker fiber than chicken-especially the genetic hackle we get. One to a turn and a half of these feathers are often enough. Regular hen, like those in the barnyard are not too bad.(two to three turns) Look at this Blue Dun Hackle:


The hackle is standard gray hen, not genetic. It's a bit heavier. Bird feathers are softer, a bit thicker, and these feathers might just have been easy to come by at the time these flies were being formulated.

Many tiers like to wax the body silk heavily. This darkens it some, as you have mentioned. Others prefer not to because the silk becomes translucent when wet, making the bodies look more like a natural. To me, this makes sense. In fact, I have started tying the soft-hackles using silk sewing thread for the abdomen with no tying silk beneath. This I learned from reading Leisenring. He used silk button-hole-twist for abdomens. Silk is definitely much better than synthetics for this purpose.

Using the synthetic tying threads do result in smaller, neater fly heads. You can use co-ordinating colors. Uni-thread comes pretty close to Gossamer colors.

Mark

PS-try starling instead of snipe in the proper dun color. The feathers are much smaller, but somewhat more delicate.
"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
SofthackleOctober 26th, 2011, 4:54 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Kurt,
I forgot to mention that many times tiers strip off one side of a bird feather like partridge to reduce the number of fibers wrapped around the hook. Look at Han's tutorial on the Partridge and Olive Emerger. It shows how it's done.

Mark
"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
EntomanOctober 26th, 2011, 5:11 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Mark -

This darkens it some, as you have mentioned. Others prefer not to because the silk becomes translucent when wet, making the bodies look more like a natural.

Interesting... I always assumed that the silk gets darker and translucent when "wetted" either by water or wax. I would think the wax subdues the hue somewhat by introducing amber to the mix while water is obviously clear. To test the hypothesis, I'll see if I can take some decent photos to post of both methods underwater. It will be an interesting comparison.

Regardless, I must admit my decision to use wax was not to improve their attractiveness to fish as much as addressing my aesthetic desire to avoid synthetics and head cements with this style.

Regards,

Kurt

"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
EntomanOctober 26th, 2011, 5:30 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Mark -

I forgot to mention that many times tiers strip off one side of a bird feather like partridge to reduce the number of fibers wrapped around the hook.


Yes, you can tell I fold mine. A lot of guys prefer them very sparse. Some believe it heterodox to have more than a half dozen or so barbules. You know how us westerners tend to over-hackle everything.:). I don't know, it just seems to me that flies that sparse are turned into midge larvae by the trout in short order. Partridge, starling and such are pretty delicate feathers.

Regards,

Kurt
"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
OldredbarnOctober 26th, 2011, 5:46 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
My question...On the Waterhen...Did you "touch-dub" or did you split the thread and place the material between the strands? What is the dubbing?

I would think that the wax would inhibit the water from penetrating the fibers, for what that's worth...More like a sealant or some such.

Nice looking flies there guys!

Spence
"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
SofthackleOctober 26th, 2011, 5:51 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Kurt,
Are you speaking of westerners like, meaning on this side of the pond, or the western U.S? I believe, in the case of U.S. versus England and Europe, you are correct. I have not really compared western U.S. flies to eastern U.S.

Also, many tiers test their flies wet, just to see what they look like.

Mark
"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
EntomanOctober 26th, 2011, 6:29 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Mark,

Yeah, by westerner I meant West of the Mississippi. Some of our dry flies are excellent imitations of bottle brushes.:)

Also, many tiers test their flies wet, just to see what they look like.


Yes, and I have too. I especially like testing them in the pool to see how they swim as well. But my eyes aren't what they used to be and macro-photography shows fun details I just don't see as well with the naked eye or even a magnifying glass anymore.

Spence - The dubbing is muskrat. As to dubbing method, it is lightly twisted on (no thumb) which seems to trap enough of the fiber length when wrapped that the ends sticking out aren't too long. The amount of twist depends on the size of fly. I'm not explaining this right... It's like stropping a razor? You place the dubbing on your fingers, crease it with the thread and pull your fingers across it? Muskrat is too long a staple for the touch method and I don't like chopping it up. I don't think you can split Pearsalls though I've never tried. Mark can perhaps address this. I pull the fur from the hide for this fly and form a little flat skein as wide as the hook on my finger tip. There's so little fur that you can hardly see it.

Regards,

Kurt
"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
SofthackleOctober 26th, 2011, 7:37 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Hi Kurt,
Gossamer can be untwisted and split. I forget exactly which direction to unwind the twist, but it is possible. I've seen quite a few beautiful soft-hackles created in this manner.

Myself, I twist my dubbing brushes Leisenring fashion, in a loop, off the fly on my pant leg. There is also a dubbing block as created by Leisenring student Dick Clark. The pant-leg method is, in my opinion, the best way. You get a lot more control of the amount of dubbing, direction of the fibers, and friction created if the method is followed properly. Brushes can be created prior to actually tying and stored on cards for future use. This method takes a bit of time to learn, but the results are, IMO not attainable by other dubbing methods. These brushes are also very strong.

This is an Iron Blue Dun tied using a Leisenring dubbed body. Also notice how the dubbing thread shows through the mole dubbing, exactly as Leisenring and Hidy wanted.



Mark
"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
EntomanOctober 26th, 2011, 8:26 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Beautiful fly Mark. You can really see the silk and yet the fly presents a fully dubbed silhouette. The pant leg method... Is that the one described in Bergman's Trout as well?

Kurt
"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
SofthackleOctober 26th, 2011, 8:29 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Here it is for anyone interested in trying it. Practice makes perfect.

http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/Leisenring

Mark
"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
EntomanNovember 1st, 2011, 5:51 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Interesting... I always assumed that the silk gets darker and translucent when "wetted" either by water or wax. I would think the wax subdues the hue somewhat by introducing amber to the mix while water is obviously clear. To test the hypothesis, I'll see if I can take some decent photos to post of both methods underwater. It will be an interesting comparison.

Well, here they are. The first photo shows them dry, the second wet. Unwaxed is on the left, waxed is on the right. The thread is Pearsals Gossamer primrose and cardinal, double wrapped. I thought the wax was the cause of the primrose darkening but it maybe more from the hook. It is also interesting to me that the unwaxed got darker and the waxed brightened when fully soaked. If you drag the photos to your desktop and enlarge them, the translucency that Mark was talking about becomes readily apparent.



"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
SofthackleNovember 1st, 2011, 8:05 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Kurt,
To wax or not to wax. I guess it all depends upon your preference. Myself, a slight darkening when wet of unwaxed silk that becomes translucent is more desirable to me, as it was to Leisenring.

Mark
"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
EntomanNovember 1st, 2011, 11:39 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Mark -
Myself, a slight darkening when wet of unwaxed silk that becomes translucent is more desirable to me,...

Yes, as the above shows, especially when using red. I guess if I took the extra time, I could leave it plain and just wax that portion that will be used for tying off the hackle and finishing the head. I could still avoid the head cement that way....

Spence - Talking about thin baetis bodies - I bet some interesting things could be done with silk thread. The primrose ribbed with olive, or the olive ribbed with brown?

Kurt
"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
SayfuNovember 2nd, 2011, 9:07 am
Posts: 560
Entomen..I had locked in on our Fall Baetis that were size # 20-22's I would guess, and having the fluorescent, green bodies, but not so this Fall. They had olive bodies, and never did experience fish taking them on the surface. Different 8 mile stretch of river that I fished this year then the 8 mile stretch below there where I fished last year. That, or we had a considerable higher flow this Fall than last...1,500 cfs compared to 4,000 cfs this year. I still fished riffle water, but with more flow. I'm getting too old to not have the rigged, dependable circumstances I now need.
SayfuNovember 2nd, 2011, 9:14 am
Posts: 560
And softhackle..mole dubbing? I use to stalk those moles in our yard. Actually took a 400 level course I will call it from a farmer down the road. He schooled me on the ways of the mole. I learned to recognize an air hole tunnel from a main runway tunnel, and where their main runways were located. I prided myself in becoming a mole expert, and if one entered my property he was in big trouble. I skinned several out, and their fur is exceptionally clean looking right out of the ground. I'll have to dig them up now. I have never used them, maybe once since I trapped them. Thanks for the inspirational post.
OldredbarnNovember 2nd, 2011, 9:41 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
mole dubbing?


Sayfu...Mole was used here for a very long time for Tricos...Very soft like beaver.

Spence - Talking about thin baetis bodies - I bet some interesting things could be done with silk thread. The primrose ribbed with olive, or the olive ribbed with brown?


Kurt,

Maybe in another thread Mark can speak to embroidery thread...He had me standing inside a JoAnns Fabric a couple years ago because they were having a sale on the stuff...Great color choices...There are like a hundred different shades of olive alone and a near dead on dorothea color...It is used in the same places you would use your silk and it doesn't fray!

While I was there I found these great plastic craft containers that were perfect for bead-heads, hooks, etc...Individual snapping sections so you only have to open the one you want and not toss all your micro-beads in to the carpet...Never to be seen again! Also...Button hole twist for the old-school in me...Button & carpet thread for weaved stonefly bodies...

I remember standing by the embroidery thread display counter and there were these Asian women standing there taking advantage of the sale as well...There was this very good looking daughter..."Ummm...Just an FYI...I'm a fly tyer...I use this stuff for fly tying...Fly fishing? I used to play ice hockey and this is my retired Teamsters card..." :)

Spence


By-the-way Kurt...Those are some rusty looking hooks up there! You know it is ok to toss things out...I know, I know! Us tyers can't toss anything. You never know...Right?!
"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
Jmd123November 2nd, 2011, 12:04 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2351
Ah Spence...having to defend your manhood in a fabric store...could have just said you were buying it for one of your girlfriends and maybe you would have gotten some!

;oD

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
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