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This topic is about the Mayfly Genus Tricorythodes

A cult following is something to which few insects can lay claim, but the tiny Tricorythodes mayflies certainly qualify. Their widespread, reliable, heavy hatches draw impressive rises of ultra-selective trout which demand the most of a technical dry-fly angler's skills.

It is surprising that such a great hatch took so long to come to the attention of fly fishermen. The Tricos were first introduced to anglers in a 1969 Outdoor Life article by Vincent Marinaro, who misidentified them as Caenis. By the early 1970s the identification had been corrected but Swisher and Richards still wrote in Selective Trout, "Few anglers are familiar with these extremely small but important mayflies." The next wave of publications boosted Tricorythodes to its current fame. I suspect their early dismissal was due in part to tackle limitations; anglers in the 1950s had no means to effectively tie and present size 22-28 flies. Read more...

There are 7 more specimens...

The Discussion

MartinlfDecember 23rd, 2009, 3:53 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2955
I just don't have a digital camera. Perhaps I'll get Caddisman to help me get some fly photos up this spring.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TilmanDecember 28th, 2009, 9:46 am

Posts: 37

The third article is on the Trico. Is that the one you all are talking about ?

I have some very small hooks here and i will try that one anyway.

Its like a gnat of some kind.
"Live and Learn" - Mr. Spock
OldredbarnDecember 29th, 2009, 12:12 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599

Tricorythodes stygiatus (Trico) is a very small mayfly. Along with other tiny mayflies like Baetis cingulatus & Pseudocloen anoka, to name just a couple, have been known collectively as "The Fisherman's Curse". They are very easily missed due to their size. They are very prolific hatches, especially here in Michigan, and are of a long duration compared to some other mayflies.

Some version (cousins) of these bugs exist all across the US and are very worthwhile for an angler to know. I have had folks tell me that they never fish with a fly smaller than a 14, but I think they are missing out on some real fun...As you can tell from some of the earlier posts here...Small Fly fanatics are cut from a different cloth...Small rods (3-4 wts), sometimes only six and a half feet in length, and long fine tippets (7-8x).

These tiny mayflies are usually the culprit when you read or hear about the "Hidden Hatch". It is very easy to be fooled. Not so much with the Trico since they are about in the early morning, but some of the Baetis and the Pseudocloen can throw you if you are not careful.

In June, around Father's Day, on the Au Sable here in Michigan I have been waiting around for the dorothea (Pale Evening Dun/Sulpher) to start and for an hour or so before I start seeing them I have seen the fish feeding. If one looks really close you will see that they are on these small flies (Pseudocloen)...Add on some finer tippet and instead of waiting around for the Sulphers you can have a couple hours of fun fishing.

You mentioned "gnat"...I will confess that one April I was fishing over stockies in a put-and-take stream. There was little real food for these poor fish to eat except for a very tiny midge which they took without a problem. I had tied up only a half dozen of a very tiny imitation and and somehow burnt through them...In desperation I found a couple Trico's in the corner of my box...snipped off the tails...cut the wing back a bit, and I was back in business.

Take Care!


"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
TilmanJanuary 4th, 2010, 3:19 pm

Posts: 37
Thank you again, Spence, for this explanation.

The confusing thing about the term "Mayflies" for me is, that in germany the one to one translation would be "Maifliege", but that one is your "Green Drake".

Anyway, i think that i can (and will) use it on one occasion, or another.

One thing i am not yet sure about is the length of the wings and the tail.

Have you got any recommendations for that ? I looked at quite a few pictures by now and if my guess is correct, then the wings are fairly short and the tailfibres are fairly long, as far as proportion goes.

I already done 10 of them today, but i left the wings long enough to cut them down, if necessary.

"Live and Learn" - Mr. Spock
MartinlfJanuary 4th, 2010, 4:31 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2955
Hi Tilman,

I fish Tricos a lot. For as tiny as the bug is, the wing's no shorter than most mayflies, but the tails are long. However, I only tie tails on my Tricos when I need them for balance or flotation. Flies with no tails seem just as, or more, appealing to the fish. Trico imitations make good midge/gnat imitations for tiny bugs also. Best of luck.

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

--Fred Chappell
BwoklinkJuly 14th, 2018, 6:20 am

Posts: 3
My brother and I encountered a terrific trico hatch last year, but we’re unprepared. Believe or not, among the far too many patterns we brought, neither of us had anything smaller than a size 20. After an hour of frustration, my brother got irritated enough to throw on a elk H caddis to use as an attracter pattern. He didn’t clean house, but managed to catch a few. I didn’t think too much about this until later learning that a little brown caddis hatch can begin soon after the trico male spinner fall is petering out. Anyone else have experience fishing caddis patterns during a trico hatch? Also, I will never be caught on a stream in mid summer w/o patterns smaller than a size 20!
WbranchJuly 14th, 2018, 7:49 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2550

Anyone else have experience fishing caddis patterns during a trico hatch?

I dislike fishing a Trico spinner fall. In Montana where I fish for two weeks every late June to early July there is a phenomenal Trico dun emergence followed by an everyday epic spinner fall where millions of spinners are on the water. Often pods of fish are rising and sections of slow water appear to be riffled because so many trout are rising at the same time.

I often just refuse to tie on a Trico spinner and instead prefer to tie on a #20 CDC caddis. The trout are used to seeing the caddis and eat it jut as much as the Trico and I have no trouble seeing it on the water.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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