Yellow Quill

Scientific Name: genus Epeorus

Yellow quills are members of the clinger group of mayflies, so the nymphs are seldom available to trout until emergence. Hatches can be sporadic and often lack enough intensity to generate selective feeding. But some days the hatches are significant, and if you are not prepared you'll be shut out.

The hatch has baffled some fly anglers because in many localities it occurs at the same season as the pale morning duns and the adult is a similar color. Closer observation reveals that the yellow quill is bigger and the wing is yellow, not blue-gray.

It's important to know which is hatching, yellow quills or PMDs. Not only is the yellow quill bigger, but the dun usually hatches underwater and drifts to the surface. Trout prefer to take them underwater, so a dry fly is of limited use during a hatch. A yellow-bodied Soft Hackle presented on a wet-fly swing is a good tactic.

Spinner falls of all Epeorus species can be--but usually aren't--important. While the spinners usually fall onto the riffly water where they laid their eggs, they tend to drift downstream and collect in backeddies or quiet water below the riffles. That is where trout wait for them and where you should cast your imitation.

Another species of Epeorus, the pink albert , is covered elsewhere.


NYMPH COLOR: Brown, olive brown

DUN SIZE: 8-15 mm (5/16-5/8 in)

DUN COLOR: Wings--yellow, tan. Body--yellow, tan

SPINNER SIZE: 8-15 mm (5/16-5/8 in)

SPINNER COLOR: Wings--clear. Body--yellow, tan

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Nymph--flattened. Nymph, dun, and spinner--two tails.


Click on the fly name to see the pattern. Click on the presentation to learn how to do it.

Nymph Pheasant Tail 10-14
Brown, olive-brown
indicator, tight line Riffles, below riffles
Hares Ear 10-14
Brown, olive-brown
indicator, tight line Riffles, below riffles
Emerger Soft Hackle 10-14
Yellow body and wing; gray-brown body
surface swing Riffles, below riffles
Dun Sparkle Dun 10-14
Yellow body and wing; gray-brown body
standard dry fly Below riffles
Spinner Rusty Spinner 10-14
Light brown body
standard dry fly Backeddies