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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

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.

Sulphurs

This very common name can also be spelled "sulfur," as can the metal and color after which the mayflies are named. Fishermen use both spellings frequently, and according to the dictionary both are correct.


Like most common names,"Sulphur" can refer to more than one taxon. They're previewed below, along with 6 specimens. For more detail click through to the scientific names.

Mayfly Species Ephemerella invaria

These are pretty much always called Sulphurs.
This species, the primary "Sulphur" hatch, stirs many feelings in the angler. There is nostalgia for days when everything clicked and large, selective trout were brought to hand. There is the bewildering memory of towering clouds of spinners which promise great fishing and then vanish back into the aspens as night falls. There is frustration from the maddening selectivity with which trout approach the emerging duns--a vexing challenge that, for some of us, is the source of our excitement when Sulphur time rolls around.

Ephemerella invaria is one of the two species frequently known as Sulphurs (the other is Ephemerella dorothea). There used to be a third, Ephemerella rotunda, but entomologists recently discovered that invaria and rotunda are a single species with an incredible range of individual variation. This variation and the similarity to the also variable dorothea make telling them apart exceptionally tricky.

As the combination of two already prolific species, this has become the most abundant of all mayfly species in Eastern and Midwestern trout streams.
Lateral view of a Male Ephemerella invaria (Ephemerellidae) (Sulphur) Mayfly Dun from Penn's Creek in Pennsylvania
Lateral view of a Male Ephemerella invaria (Ephemerellidae) (Sulphur) Mayfly Spinner from the Teal River in Wisconsin
Dorsal view of a Ephemerella invaria (Ephemerellidae) (Sulphur) Mayfly Nymph from the Beaverkill River in New York
This small Ephemerella invaria nymph was at least a month away from emergence.

Mayfly Species Epeorus vitreus

These are often called Sulphurs.
This is the second most common Epeorus species in the East and Midwest. Most anglers will encounter sporadic hatches of Epeorus vitreus once in a while, and sometimes a more concentrated emergence causes a good rise of fish.
Male Epeorus vitreus (Heptageniidae) (Sulphur) Mayfly Dun from the Beaverkill River in New York
This is my favorite mayfly from 2004, and it appears on my popular Be the Trout: Eat Mayflies products. Check them out!

Its identification is really up in the air. It might be a late-season vitreus dun but it may very well be one of the more obscure species in that genus.
Artistic view of a Female Epeorus vitreus (Heptageniidae) (Sulphur) Mayfly Spinner from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Epeorus vitreus (Heptageniidae) (Sulphur) Mayfly Nymph from unknown in Wisconsin

Sulphurs

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