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  • Writer's pictureBecky Hulsey


Over the years of teaching fly fishing classes, our entomology portion is one of the most exciting parts of the class. During this section, we grab a seine net and head out into the water to kick up bugs. After we have gathered a good sample, we pull up the net and start identify the different bugs that have accumulated. Everyone seems so surprised to see the prolific number of bugs that we have gathered out of the stream. I think it is at this point that our students put together that the flies we use at the end of our line match the bug life in the stream. Of course, you can have “junk flies” in your fly box but matching the hatch is can sometimes be the only way to outsmart the trout that has seen it all.

Next, we get out our fly boxes and match the flies to the different bugs. We will show how we might have different fly boxes to carry flies based on the bug’s life cycle such as dry flies and nymphs. However, you may have a fly box dedicated to a type of bug like terrestrials. Mostly how folks choose to store their flies is just personal preference. I can always tell when my husband, David, has raided my fly boxes! Further, we explain how trout can be zeroing in on the size and color of the bug for that day. This might help justify all the flies we accumulate in our fly boxes. But, realistically after a while you get familiar with the common colors, sizes, and flies that you use most often on your most commonly fished waters.

In addition to identifying bugs in the stream, we also relay how the season or time of year is important to what flies you might want to cast out on the water. We get excited when we see bloodroot and trout lilies blooming on the side of the stream. This means the start of the wakening of life from winter so a March Brown pattern fly might prove successful. Some bug hatches will often correlate with blooming wildlife flowers and herbs. Good times are ahead when you hear grasshoppers or see ants dropping from a rhododendron flower in the summer. Time to get your terrestrials. Nothing quite like seeing a trout rise to gulp your fly!

There are several hatch books that can show you the life cycle of the bug and which fly represents it. Dave Whitlock and Doug Swisher/Carl Richards have fantastic books that dive into this subject more and make it easier for folks to understand. Some entomology books can get pretty intense. I highly recommend for you to check out local or regional match the hatch books too.

We have a hatch chart on our website for North Georgia. David developed this chart after spending many years guiding on these waters. I would carry a little hatch book with me in my fly vest or pack to help me identify bugs when getting started fly fishing especially if this helped me to catch the elusive trout.



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