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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 Pycnopsyche guttifera (Limnephilidae) (Great Autumn Brown Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen appears to be of the same species as this one collected in the same spot two months earlier. The identification of both is tentative. This one suffered some physical damage before being photographed, too, so the colors aren't totally natural. I was mostly photographing it to test out some new camera setting idea, which worked really well for a couple of closeups.
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 Mayfly Species Ephemerella subvaria

The Hendrickson hatch is almost synonymous with fly fishing in America. It has been romanticized by our finest writers, enshrined on an untouchable pedestal next to Theodore Gordon, bamboo, and the Beaverkill.

The fame is well-deserved. Ephemerella subvaria is a prolific species which drives trout to gorge themselves. Its subtleties demand the best of us as anglers, and meeting the challenge pays off handsomely in bent graphite and screaming reels.

Example specimens

Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Dec 26, 2006December 26th, 2006, 9:34 am EST
Jason, thanks for the underwater photos of subvaria nymphs and the stillborn dun. Anyone looking at this thread may have to search for them a bit, (click on "There are 29 more specimens") but they are well worth the viewing! They have given me a better understanding of how to modify my upside down mayfly tie to better represent still born and crippled subvarias, and the underwater nymph pictures have confirmed my thoughts about coloration on flies designed to imitate subvaria nymphs. The photos are phenomenal, not like any bug photos I've seen before, in that they show the insects in a natural habitat.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Dec 27, 2006December 27th, 2006, 4:25 pm EST
Thanks. :) Hopefully I'll get many more like that this coming spring! It's dreadfully cold on my hands, but I think I found some streams this past summer that will make it worthwhile early in the spring when most nymphs are still out and about.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Dec 28, 2006December 28th, 2006, 1:10 am EST
Welcome back, Jason. Hope you had a good holiday so far, and best wishes for a Happy New Year. For others interested in making Gonzo's Tyvek nymphs, I came up with an idea that may be helpful. I've made a color chart on tyvek using all the markers I have on hand, and numbered each square of color. I'm going to fold it up in my vest and take it on bug collecting trips. When I've seined one of the little buggers (May--not Wooly), he (or she) goes onto the chart for a color match. I'll then be able to jot down the number, stream name, and his (or her) species for a better color match at the vise.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Dec 28, 2006December 28th, 2006, 8:30 am EST

I just wanted to mention that despite the vast array of colored art-markers that are now available (especially if you check art supply or craft shops), I still have trouble finding some of the colors I need. It is possible, however, to blend or layer different colors to some degree. There is even a special marker called a "blender" that may (or may not) help to do this. I assume that this is a marker containing the colorless solvent.

I think your color chart is a good idea (kind of like Borger's color system for markers). I once made a similar chart, except it had overlapping stripes of color in a grid that allowed me to judge the effect of one marker color over others.


I certainly second Louis with regard to your outstanding photos of nymphs in their natural environment. Per a much earlier discussion of ours, I hope you'll have a chance to try to photograph emerging caddisflies this coming season. (The ones of B. appalachia are already some of the most revealing I've ever seen.) The photos could go a long way toward resolving a debate that has been modestly raging for more than twenty years!
Posts: 8
PeterO on Apr 21, 2007April 21st, 2007, 2:53 am EDT

Be very careful putting species names on your Ephemerella nymphs. To see the characters needed for determination requires a microscope, and even then I've had late instar specimens that I couldn't identify.

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