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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.

Ventral view of a Hydropsyche (Hydropsychidae) (Spotted Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
With a bit of help from the microscope, this specimen keys clearly and unsurprisingly to Hydropsyche.
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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to email me.

Yes, limited non-commercial use is allowed for free.

You cannot remove my name and the address of this site from any of the images without emailing me for permission. If you're using them in a document with a bibliography, list Troutnut.com in it. If you want to use a few photos as decorations on a personal homepage or similar application, feel free, but don't start your own archive with my images. I'd appreciate it if you put in a good word for my site wherever you use my images or videos, but that's not required.

In general, if you want to choose between crediting "Jason Neuswanger" or "Troutnut.com" for a photo, credit "Troutnut.com" (linked) so people see where to go for more photos.

I've used several cameras over the years since beginning digital invertebrate photography in 2003 with an Olympus C-740UZ point-and-shoot. The camera doesn't matter nearly as much as the supporting equipment. Most invertebrate photos on the site taken from 2005 through 2013 used a Canon EOS 20D digital SLR with the Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8 and Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 macro lenses and Canon MT-24EX macro flash. In 2014 I upgraded the camera body to a Canon 7D Mark II but kept the same lenses and flash. In 2021, I started experimenting with the HeliconFocus software for focus stacking, and in 2022 I got a WeMacro focusing rail to take properly controlled focus stacks. At some point I hope to write an article detailing the rest of my gradually accumulated, highly customized bug photo setup.

Not at the moment. If you're interested, please email me.

I've gone back and forth on this, starting out showing locations, and then hiding them for years. Now, I show most locations, with a few exceptions:

  • I hide locations that I was told about in secret, even if they could withstand the attention.
  • I hide the most precious and sensitive small streams. (You'll see them as Mystery Creek #something.)
  • I hide the locations where I caught or photographed exceptional fish, so those photos show up in the "Trout & River Pictures" section but their location is hidden. I make an exception to this for places everyone already knows about. For example, I'm not doing much harm if I let slip this little "secret": The Kenai River in Alaska has some really big trout. Also, did you hear the West Branch of the Delaware has trout in it? Maybe that's why there's an angler every thirty feet in the springtime.

I switched back to showing locations in general because it's the most logical way to organize all the non-bug pictures on this site, and it adds meaning to all the pictures and specimens when you can see where they're from and which ones come from the same place.

I kept them hidden for years because I originally had a backlash from people who didn't like seeing their home river's name (including such top-secret rivers as Beaverkill) mentioned on a popular website. They feared that every angler in the world, having never heard of the Beaverkill, would swarm to it and wipe out the entire trout population within minutes (or something like that).

I think that fear is unjustified. There is information on all these streams online, in books, and in state agency publications; that's how I found them. Fishing pressure (especially from catch & release fly fishermen) is probably not even on the first page of the list of dangers to some of these streams. Those that might be at risk from pressure are already so well-known that mentioning them here changes nothing. All of these streams need friends more than they need their privacy.

I'm a salmonid ecologist with a PhD from the University of Alaska. Aquatic invertebrates are frequently involved in my research, but mostly as food for trout. As an entomologist, I'm just an advanced amateur / educator, and I wouldn't be qualified to describe a new species or anything like that.

It depends on the state. I have obtained permits for collecting in some places but not others. I do not collect in national parks, but I would guess most or all of them have strict permitting requirements and enforce them more stringently than any general statewide rules.

Some states have old laws on the books to keep bait dealers from wrecking ecosystems by mass collecting insects (usually hellgrammites or Hexagenia mayfly nymphs) to sell as bait. Other states or parks are concerned with people collecting insects of any kind, for example to sell specimens of rare or endangered butterflies. Small-scale collection for educational/scientific purposes, as represented on this site, does no such harm.

In my experience, asking about the legality of small-scale bug collecting, and how to obtain a permit if necessary, results in getting an email bounced around the agency for a while and only maybe ever reaching somebody who knows the answer. Typically, everybody along the way is fine with it, but they're not sure how to come up with an official answer. Because of that, this might be a good place for Admiral Grace Hopper's famous quote, "It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission." Apply that at your own risk.

This website is my book. I created it because the web has potential a printed book does not: to include unlimited high-resolution photos, to be updated at any time, to include clickable definitions of scientific jargon, to make related information available at a single click, to allow user discussions, and to organize information more efficiently. I have a wall full of books I love, but I can't imagine anything I would want to say (at least about bugs) that can't be communicated better in this format than in a book.

Possibly. I do have a system in place for users besides myself to contribute insect photos to the main trout stream insects library. However, the pictures should ideally be in the style I use for my own photos: high-resolution closeups, with multiple views of each specimen from different angles, including at least one shot with a ruler to show scale. You should generally be able to identify your specimens correctly, at least to the family level. If you're interested in contributing such photos, please email me!

I don't have any kind of budget to pay photographers, unfortunately. But I do sometimes get requests for commercial image use rights (by magazines, phone app developers, etc), and I forward such requests to the photographer of any image that isn't mine. There isn't a lot of money involved, though, so contributing is more about getting your images seen and helping build this site as a useful resource for others.

Since about 9 pm on November 3, 2003, when I received an Orvis fly-tying kit for my 23rd birthday. I have taken an occasional break to eat or sleep.

I started taking photos with a DSLR back in 2005 and frequently used a very narrow aperture (high f/stop number) to maximize depth of field. This really enhances the appearance of dust on the camera's sensor. Several of my photos from 2005–2007 have problems with this, which have been only partially digitally corrected. It is no longer a problem in new photos thanks to improved techniques and hardware.

As close as I can get. True color is very difficult to define, because it depends not only on the color of the subject, but also on the color of the light hitting it. The colors trout see are even more variable, because they're often viewing the subject through tinted water, or at a depth that transmits short wavelengths poorly. Since it's difficult to simulate the colors our eyes will see, and impossible to show the colors the fish will see, it's a moot point to try to show a picture of the exact color your flies should be to imitate a certain insect. A decent approximation usually works.

The colors on my insect photos are typically what you'd see with the insect under a bright white light and a magnifying glass. That isn't how they'll always appear in the wild.

This can happen for any of three reasons:

  • It doesn't exist anymore, because it's been reclassified and/or combined with another species. This has happened to many well-known mayfly species, such as Ephemerella rotunda, which was combined with Ephemerella invaria. If you think this may be the problem, go to the species list page on Purdue's Mayfly Central website and use your browser's search function to see if there's a new name for it.
  • It's not a species from the US and Canada. My database doesn't cover those found elsewhere.
  • I just haven't written anything for it yet or taken any pictures. I dislike websites that fill up search results with uninformative placeholder pages. I have a page for every US/Canadian species, but most of them are private and empty. They automatically become public if I add a picture of a specimen or any information about the species at all.
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