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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Zapada cinctipes (Nemouridae) (Tiny Winter Black) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
Nymphs of this species were fairly common in late-winter kick net samples from the upper Yakima River. Although I could not find a key to species of Zapada nymphs, a revision of the Nemouridae family by Baumann (1975) includes the following helpful sentence: "2 cervical gills on each side of midline, 1 arising inside and 1 outside of lateral cervical sclerites, usually single and elongate, sometimes constricted but with 3 or 4 branches arising beyond gill base in Zapada cinctipes." This specimen clearly has the branches and is within the range of that species.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Great Brown Spinners

Like most common names,"Great Brown Spinner" can refer to more than one taxon. They're previewed below, along with 4 specimens. For more detail click through to the scientific names.

Mayfly Species Litobrancha recurvata

These are sometimes called Great Brown Spinners.
Litobrancha recurvata is generally reported to be the largest North American species of mayfly in angler entomologies, though this understanding is being challenged by reports of Hexagenia limbata that may exceed 40mm in some locales. Regardless, it is certainly the largest mayfly in the region of its distribution. Sometimes it appears together with species of Hexagenia or Ephemera, but in other places it creates excellent action on its own.
Female Litobrancha recurvata (Ephemeridae) (Dark Green Drake) Mayfly Dun from the Au Sable River (Mainstream) in Michigan
These photos were contributed by Spencer Vanderhoof.
Male Litobrancha recurvata (Ephemeridae) (Dark Green Drake) Mayfly Spinner from the Au Sable River (Mainstream) in Michigan
These photos were contributed by Spencer Vanderhoof.

Mayfly Species Timpanoga hecuba

These are very rarely called Great Brown Spinners.
Timpanoga hecuba is not abundant enough, and its emergence not concentrated enough to provide great hatches, but where it is locally abundant it creates fishable action because of its large size. This species seems subject to substantial fluctuations in population densities, possibly in relation to the amount of silted habitat they prefer. When silt builds up in drought years, their numbers appear to increase. It is the largest species in the Ephemerellidae family, often rivaling Drunella grandis (Western Green Drake) in length but appearing even stouter due to its dramatic lateral abdominal spines. It contains two subspecies. See the Timpanoga genus hatch page for details.

Anglers call them by a confusing array of names, although many fly shops have fortunately started to clear things up by rightly calling them Hecubas. Great Red Quill and Western Red Drake seem fairly descriptive, and some refer to them as Giant Dark Hendricksons. A fly shop serving Yellowstone out of Gardiner, Montana calls them Drake Mackerels in their hatch chart.
Female Timpanoga hecuba (Ephemerellidae) (Great Red Quill) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #178 in Idaho
This specimen is 14 mm. Technically this is the subspecies T. h. hecuba. The Cascades, Sierras and further West is where the other subspecies, T. h. pacifica is found. The Great Basin seems to have formed a barrier preventing any overlap in their distribution.
Timpanoga hecuba (Ephemerellidae) (Great Red Quill) Mayfly Nymph from the St. Regis River in Montana


Great Brown Spinners

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