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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
Baetis

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 Epeorus albertae (Heptageniidae) (Pink Lady) Mayfly Nymph from the East Fork Issaquah Creek in Washington
This specimen keys to the Epeorus albertae group of species. Of the five species in that group, the two known in Washington state are Epeorus albertae and Epeorus dulciana. Of the two, albertae has been collected in vastly more locations in Washington than dulciana, suggesting it is far more common. On that basis alone I'm tentatively putting this nymph in albertae, with the large caveat that there's no real information to rule out dulciana.
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.

This topic is about the Caddisfly Family Hydroptilidae

Both anglers and entomologists know these diminutive flies as "Microcaddisflies." The term refers to this family specifically, not to all tiny caddisflies. Many are large enough for imitation on small hooks, but some are impossibly small, as tiny as hook size 36.

Like the Tricorythodes mayflies, Microcaddisflies can be important to trout because of their extreme abundance in certian waters.

Example specimens

Dai_sca
Joplin, MO

Posts: 3
Dai_sca on Dec 29, 2010December 29th, 2010, 4:54 am EST
I had not fished Bennett Spring for many years and ended up there on Nov 26. I was not very prepared for the stream's entemology, spoke to someone at the flyshop and went with fishing a midge or two and this was very successful. But it was quite obvious that the trout were feeding on the surface or just under and it wasn't a midge. As the day progressed and late afternoon brought sunshine, a hatch of Tiny Caddis(Black) appeared. I had a size 18 but it wasn't dark enough or small enough. A gent who fished the stream regularly gave me a #24 black Elk Hair(or other hair) caddis. The fish took this fly as a dry off the surface. I am hard pressed to ID this fly aside from Protoptila. This, however, is not a marginally temp spring, the water is consistent flow a cold. The description of the Protoptila indicates that this insect is more a warm water insect. The hatch was occurring right at the spring itself. Any ideas?

Again, this was a size 24 fly, and maybe,just maybe, a 26 or 28 might have been the appropriate size for the insect as there were obvious refusals at the surface.

David (dai_sca@yahoo.com
David Edwin Bell
Taxon
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Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1311
Taxon on Dec 29, 2010December 29th, 2010, 7:44 am EST
David,

My guess would be Agapetus. You have two species in MO, A. artesus and A. illini.

Best,
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
Motrout
Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Dec 29, 2010December 29th, 2010, 9:10 am EST
Nice to hear from a fellow Missouri trout fisherman. I thought I was the only one on here.

I'm not familiar with any tiny black caddis that hatch during the winter on the streams I fish, but then I don't really spend any time at Bennett. (I'm more of a Current River guy). Anyway, it's cool that you got into some steady dry fly action this time of year-it's a pretty rare treat. It's just about two months till the real good caddis hatches will get going again-sometime in March. I'm sure looking forward to that.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
Creno
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 302
Creno on Dec 30, 2010December 30th, 2010, 1:00 pm EST
David - did you happen to keep a specimen? Protoptila does not have a spur on the forefemur, while Agapetus has two forefemur spurs. If you don't have a specimen, or a real good wing or dorsum of head photo, you probably cannot tell which genus it is. Agapetus artesus seems to be endemic to a couple large springs in Oregon and Phelps counties, MO and has been collected in September. Agapetus illini is widespread and a common early season emerger from small streams.
While Protoptila are usually found in larger, warmer streams, Protoptila tenebrosa has been reported from Bennett Spring, although collected in June.
Seasonal patterns of many taxa are often atypical in constant temperature springs with typically univoltine taxa occasionally being multivoltine.
have a great new year
Creno
Motrout
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Posts: 319
Motrout on Jan 1, 2011January 1st, 2011, 4:29 am EST
I literally understood every tenth word of that post.

But interesting all the same.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
Taxon
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Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1311
Taxon on Jan 1, 2011January 1st, 2011, 4:49 pm EST
Hi Motrout-

Of necessity, entomologists converse in language littered with technical terms and scientific names. However, in as much as Creno may just ignore your gentle ribbing, I will attempt to provide you with (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) definitions to assist you in the understanding you profess to lack.

David - did you happen to keep a specimen? Protoptila does not have a spur on the forefemur, while Agapetus has two forefemur spurs. If you don't have a specimen, or a real good wing or dorsum of head photo, you probably cannot tell which genus it is. Agapetus artesus seems to be endemic to a couple large springs in Oregon and Phelps counties, MO and has been collected in September. Agapetus illini is widespread and a common early season emerger from small streams.
While Protoptila are usually found in larger, warmer streams, Protoptila tenebrosa has been reported from Bennett Spring, although collected in June.
Seasonal patterns of many taxa are often atypical in constant temperature springs with typically univoltine taxa occasionally being multivoltine.
have a great new year
Creno


specimen - a retained (and hopefully, preserved) insect
Protoptila - one of (3) genera of the caddisfly family Glossosomatidae (Microcaddis) found in Missouri
spur - a sharp spine-like projection from the legs of certain adult caddisflies
forefemur - the third (often stoutest) segment of an insect's front legs
Agapetus - one of (3) genera of caddisfly family Glossosomatidae (Microcaddis) found in Missouri
dorsum - upper surface of
genus - level of biological classification below family and above species
artesus - one of the (2) species of genus Agapetus found in Missouri
endemic - exclusively native to
springs - natural situations where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground
Oregon - a county in the state of Missouri
Phelps - a county in the state of Missouri
MO - abbreviation for the state of Missouri
September - ninth month of our calendar year
illini - one of the (2) species of Agapetus found in Missouri
tenebrosa - one of the (3) species of genus Protoptila found in Missouri
Bennett - a high volume spring located in Missouri
atypical - not representative of
univoltine - insects which have exactly one generation during a 12-month period
taxa - plural of taxon, which is a group of (one or more) organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit
multivoltine - insects which have more than one generation during a 12-month period
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
Shawnny3
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jan 2, 2011January 2nd, 2011, 3:28 am EST
This has suddenly ascended in my mind to the realm of the great threads on Troutnut. This is just the sort of interaction that makes this forum special.

Thank you, Motrout, for expressing so succinctly what so many of us are thinking when we read these kinds of posts. Thank you, Roger, for taking the time to explain some of the esoteric jargon to us ignoramuses (ignorami?) in kindygarden terms, with a little humor tossed in for good measure. And, finally, thank you Creno for understanding all this stuff in the first place - it's comforting to know that someone does.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jan 2, 2011January 2nd, 2011, 2:28 pm EST
For those of you that have not had the opportunity to view some of the larvae of the family Hydroptilidae, many of them spin transparent cases out of silk that look like tiny Erlenmeyer (conical) flasks used in chemistry labs! I discovered that during my own aquatic entomology studies in Missouri for my (not completed) PhD work. Just one of those tiny natural wonders that you have to be a biologist to appreciate!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Creno
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 302
Creno on Jan 3, 2011January 3rd, 2011, 2:26 pm EST
Roger - thanks for the reply - I doubt Motrout meant much by his comment given his Gierach postript professing the need to know.

But - I couldn't resist a few comments on your definitions -
"specimen - a retained (and hopefully, preserved) insect"
- hopefully the specimen is properly preserved. 70% or greater alcohol is great, And I know from personal experience that saving them dry in the corner of an envelope works alot better than putting them in suntan lotion or dry fly floatent. And properly labeled. This includes sufficient info to allow a complete idiot to actually find the location again - gps data alone does not work for us idiots as we keep driving all over the country every time we enter one digit wrong (did ya know you can end up in China with one character missing?) State, County, stream name, distance from, and name of, the closest road/local town, etc. and date collected. I sure wouldn't worry about an entomologist disclosing that favorite stream of yours as most of them don't fish anyhow. While I still fish a few times a year, it is a great excuse to collect with friends.

"Protoptila - one of (3) genera of the caddisfly family Glossosomatidae (Microcaddis) found in Missouri"
The taxonomist in me struggles with the term "found" when it is used to refer to "what has been reported." While a minor detail that few may be interested in, if they have even read this far, it is important to those of us who constantly look for new taxa records in areas were they have not been "found."

"spur - a sharp spine-like projection from the legs of certain adult caddisflies"
- inlike a spine, a spur also sits in a dent on the femur which allows it to spin around - it has connected muscles and probably many sensory properties.

"forefemur - the third (often stoutest) segment of an insect's front legs"
- be sure to start counting segments from the body :-)

"taxa - plural of taxon, which is a group of (one or more) organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit"
- adjudges?! adjudges?! we don need no stinkin adjudges! - I had to go to wikitionary to define adjudges: To declare to be.

have a happy!
creno
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Jan 4, 2011January 4th, 2011, 1:36 am EST
bug doctors - creno and taxon -
does 70% ethanol dehydrate the specimens?
is there a difference in the exoskelton/muscular insect structure or fluid (hemolymph?) that decreases the amount of dessication that we see in attempts to preserve mammilian tissue with etoh? in my profession formalin is used to immediatly preserve cellular architecture which is to be evaluated under the microscope for pathologic diagnosis. saline is used for fresh specimens that are evaluated immediatly.
does the fluid composition of insects allow saline preservation?
the reason that i ask is that in my rudimentry attempts at "preserving" specimens (70%etoh) for my own purposes of fly design, all of the bugs turn a pale white/gray after a day or so, but retain their structural integrety. why does the color "wash out"? it would be great to preserve the color, but size and profile is generally what i get out of it...
just curious
tony
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jan 4, 2011January 4th, 2011, 2:46 am EST
70% ethanol is pretty much the standard for preserving aquatic insects, at least that's my experience and I almost did a PhD on the subject...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Gutcutter
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Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Jan 4, 2011January 4th, 2011, 3:23 am EST
jonathon
my question was not about what is used. i understood that from the previous posts.
my questions are "why is it used?" and "are their alternatives?" and "what is the rational for usage?".
i'm sorry if you didn't understand the question, but i thought that it was pretty clear.
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jan 4, 2011January 4th, 2011, 3:55 am EST
GC, I think 70% is used because it is the best as far as preservation without making the specimens too fragile. Ethanol always washes out some color, which is why formaldahyde is used for most preservation. However, formaldahyde, besides being very toxic (my hands once went completely numb from handling fish specimens preserved in it, even though I was wearing gloves - I'll never do that again), also fixes tissues in such a way as to make specimens brittle. Fine for fish, amphibians, etc. but not for invertebrates. The same is true apparently of isopropyl alcohol - it is OK for killing but dries out the specimens too much so again they become brittle. 95% ethanol can also be used for killing but, again, sucks too much H20 out of the critters so they break too easily. Of course you want to be able to move parts around without breaking them off all over the place! And, toxicity is a factor - ethanol is so harmless you can actually drink it (as we all do in our wine, beer, vodka, etc...)! Don't know how those nymphs & larvae would affect the flavor, however...

(A little story here: during my very first entomology class in 1987, we had some 95% around the lab and one of my fellow students suggested we party with it. The prof overheard him and said, "It'll blister your tongue!" To which we all replied, "How do YOU know that?")

A somewhat more sophisticated preservative that is commonly used for insect larvae, especially terrestrials like grubs (beetle larvae) is KAAD, composed of kerosene, alcohol, acetic acid, and dioxane (NOT dioxin!!). Apparently it is better at preserving colors but is considerably more toxic and requires more ingredients. I'm not even sure where one can get dioxane, whatever THAT is, but our Immature Insects Class professor back at MSU substituted detergent (which one exactly I don't know - and I actually blew a question in an entomology quiz-bowl game by saying detergent INSTEAD of dioxane...cost us the National Championship!). I don't know the exact mixture but either someone else on this site might know or you might even be able to buy a ready-made solution from some company like BioQuip (they have LOADS of entomology gear, books, microscopes, etc. - good source for entomology - www.BioQuip.com) or maybe Carolina Biological Supply Co.

I hope this helps!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Creno
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 302
Creno on Jan 4, 2011January 4th, 2011, 8:45 am EST
Tony - as far as I know the loss of natural colors in aquatic insects occurs in all preservatives. But it also occurs, to a lessor extent, in material collected dry - like collecting and pinning butterflies. Often the typical colors and hues you see on live material are the result of refraction/reflection etc, not the result of pigmented coloration, although the pigmented areas add their own twist to the refraction/reflection. This becomes real obvious when you look at a picture of a live specimen and the same specimen when dead and pinned. In general dark colors last the longest and the less exposure to light the better. Museums keep their material in the dark. I seem to remember a discussion of how we see insect natural coloration with some optical explanation in the mid 1900s fishing literature but I cannot remember where. Just another example of CRS (cannot remember s&*%).

As far as tissue preservation, there is dehydration and tissue alteration with the alcohols (I don't know anything about saline preservation of insects), but, like you inferred, it becomes a matter of selecting the preservative for your purpose. I like non-denatured or grain alcohol (ETOH)because it does not interfere with the typical processing I use for identification. For caddis it is often necessary to remove the inner tissues to properly expose the private parts used to tell the species apart. ETOH does not interfere with this process while Isopropyl and formalin do. And, as we start into using DNA analysis, ETOH does not interfer with that processing too much, although the gene jockies would prefer everything in 95% as it slows down the genetic material breakdown better. And 70-80% ETOH is a good compromise for long term preservation of collections while still allowing the specimen to be flexible enough for easy examination. I have worked with 100 year old 80% ETOH collections that are as easy to work with as freshly collected material, and much better than even fresh material in Isopropyl or formalin.

And, as Jonathon mentioned, it is also a matter of safety and convenience. Most of the other choices in preservatives are either acutely or chronically poisonous, and all need to be handled with some care, especially when exposure is daily over long periods of time.

hope this helps
creno
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Jan 4, 2011January 4th, 2011, 9:06 am EST
Of necessity, entomologists converse in language littered with technical terms and scientific names. However, in as much as Creno may just ignore your gentle ribbing, I will attempt to provide you with (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) definitions to assist you in the understanding you profess to lack.


Roger,

I know I'm busting up the thread a bit here, but I'm grinning ear-to-ear! I love the above quote..."Somewhat tongue-in-cheek" sounds like something from Spence's playbook! :)

On Jan 2nd I passed over in to old-fart-dom by arriving at the ripe-old-age of 57...So the old-red-barn's going to have to change his handle...So Creno I understand you oh-so-well when you wrote the following:
optical explanation in the mid 1900s fishing literature but I cannot remember where. Just another example of CRS (cannot remember s&*%).
By-the-way it may have been Vinny Marinaro, "A Modern Dry-Fly Code"...

Sorry for the intrusion here...Great info!

Spence
"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
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jan 5, 2011January 5th, 2011, 2:57 pm EST
With regards to insect colors, I was told that the metallic greens and blues found in some insects (we're talking terrestrial beetles, wasps, and those bright green damselflies, Calopteryx maculata males) are not pigment colors but rather refraction colors, produced by microscopic structures rather than pigments. Whatever actually causes them, they sure are beautiful!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Bruegy
Missouri

Posts: 1
Bruegy on Mar 2, 2011March 2nd, 2011, 3:17 am EST
Never thought i would have found a BSSP post on here. I have been searching for over a year to identify this caddis fly. I have seen this hatch at bennett springs often from October through April. Just as you said its small, i would say a 26 or 28. The best i can describe it as being a solid jet black. I will try to catch a few and post pictures.
Kevin
Creno
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 302
Creno on May 15, 2011May 15th, 2011, 3:52 pm EDT
Any luck collecting your Bennett Spring critter this spring?
Dai_sca
Joplin, MO

Posts: 3
Dai_sca on Jun 9, 2014June 9th, 2014, 9:24 am EDT
I had not realized there was response, and I apologize for not seeing this was the case sooner. I did not capture any specimen. I was only there a few hours. Thanks for the input however. - David
David Edwin Bell
Dai_sca
Joplin, MO

Posts: 3
Dai_sca on Jun 9, 2014June 9th, 2014, 9:35 am EDT
One large note about this: My eyesight is not what it once was. The insect was caddis and very tiny. I was not prepared with any sort of selection of flies which I carry to get down to the size needed.

I am not an amateur entemologist of any sort. I use the information here to understand the nature of the insects I am imitating, gather information and perhaps use the photos to develop fly patterns.

My complete points were:

1. It was an unusual time for the hatch.
2. From talking to others, it is significant.
3. Without a properly sized imitation when fish are selectively feeding, you are unlikely to have a great deal of success.
4. This is a chance for someone to address themselves to an important hatch and subsurface emerger pattern for Caddis on Bennett Spring.

Oddly enough, since this time, I had gone through the Tornado at Joplin, eventually having to resign my position and retire. I then bought a boat and lived on it in FL, which was not my cup of tea, sold it to my elder son who lives on it part time and is now in Estonia. Myself? I now live in Avery, ID on the St Joe River. A completely different environment though there are spring creeks feeding the river.

David Bell

David Edwin Bell

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