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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Dorsal view of a Setvena wahkeena (Perlodidae) (Wahkeena Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from Mystery Creek #199 in Washington
As far as I can tell, this species has only previously been reported from one site in Oregon along the Columbia gorge. However, the key characteristics are fairly unmistakable in all except for one minor detail:
— 4 small yellow spots on frons visible in photos
— Narrow occipital spinule row curves forward (but doesn’t quite meet on stem of ecdysial suture, as it's supposed to in this species)
— Short spinules on anterior margin of front legs
— Short rposterior row of blunt spinules on abdominal tergae, rather than elongated spinules dorsally
I caught several of these mature nymphs in the fishless, tiny headwaters of a creek high in the Wenatchee Mountains.
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.
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Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Nov 17, 2007November 17th, 2007, 11:39 am EST
Why do we tie,fish, and catch fish on black stone fly nymphs. I was looking through the stone fly pics on here and did not see a single nymph that looked like the "black" stonefly that I tie. I originally started looking to try and see if I could improve on my pattern but unless I missed something the best improvement I could make would be to get rid of the black and switch to dark brown.
JOHNW's profile picture
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
JOHNW on Nov 17, 2007November 17th, 2007, 1:54 pm EST
I look at it this way: Most of the places we fish stonefly nymphs are pretty rough and toumble and the trout get a split second look and make their decision. So black and dark brown aren't really all that far apart.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
Milton, DE

Posts: 82
Flybyknight on Nov 18, 2007November 18th, 2007, 7:38 am EST
There are two species of small dark Stoneflies in the early spring that are of interest here. Black Stonefly: Taeniopteryx navalis, and the Brown Stonefly, with T. hatching around late February, and S. following a few weeks later.
The nymph of the former in 14-16 2XL is a dark brown to black, while the latter in 16-18 is brown to dark red/brown. They are often found together, which quite frankly confuses me sometimes when the adults are on the snow banks.

Lightly on the dimpling eddy fling;
the hypocritic fly's unruffled wing.
Thomas Scott
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Nov 18, 2007November 18th, 2007, 1:12 pm EST
What about larger black stones? I tie a black in all the same sizes as a golden. Maybe I'm not even imitating a particular species and they just take it because it looks tasty. I don't know? I agree with John in that your fishing riffles so color is less important, I suppose I just figured that this big black stone fly that I always fished with was an actual species. Who knew.
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Nov 18, 2007November 18th, 2007, 4:28 pm EST
Jeff, there is a little black stonefly, size 18, that hatches around here in March and April. If you fish the Letort or Yellow Breeches then it's good to have nymphs, wets, and dries to match it.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Milton, DE

Posts: 82
Flybyknight on Nov 19, 2007November 19th, 2007, 11:30 am EST
Oops! The little brown stonefly that I was referring to above (my home water: East Branch of the Delaware) is Strophopteryx faciata.

The next Stonefly to hatch is the Giant Black Stonefly: with the ferocious name Pteronarcys dorsata. It too is dark brown, but the ventral is sort of yellow / orange. That is what I believe the discussion is about, but this little bugger in size 12 to 16 does not come off till early April.

Another Black Stonefly: Isogenoides hansoni in sizes 12 to 16 follows a week later. It is black, with light green markings around the head and thorax.

I tie in a chocolate color, except for P. in which case the overhand weave keeps me humble.

Lightly on the dimpling eddy fling;
the hypocritic fly's unruffled wing.
Thomas Scott

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