Brown Drake

Scientific Name: Ephemera simulans

Brown Drakes are burrowing mayflies (family Ephemeridae). Nymphs live in slow sections of rivers where the bottom is fine silt, sand, or gravel. They leave their burrows at night to forage; so at this point, nymph imitations have some small utility for anglers where night fishing is legal and the angler is idiot enough to risk live, limb, and dry clothes by wading rivers in the dark while tumbling a marginally important life-form imitation near the river bottom.

Hatches typically occur in late May or early June, but may happen later in the year, depending on the river. They start near dark, with nymphs swimming quickly toward the surface; they are often taken by trout while enroute. Because the nymphs live in slow sections of rivers, cast your imitation into slow runs, slackwater sections, and slow backeddies where you see duns resting on the surface. Use the rising nymph or vertical retrieve presentation. Put a little speed on the rise: these nymphs are good swimmers.

Shortly before the nymph reaches the surface, the dun emerges. So it is the dun that arrives at the surface, not the nymph. While duns don't drift long before flying off, cripples can struggle atop the water for a long time. So cripple patterns may be your best bet when trout are feeding on the surface.

Spinners come to the water a day or two after the duns hatched. Spinner falls occur at dusk and can generate eager surface-feeding activity from the trout.


How to Match a Brown drake

Hatches are matched from Westfly's database of "standard" fly patterns.

Size 8-10 Quigley Cripple. Brown-yellow
Slow-moderate runs, backeddies, slackwater: standard dry fly
Size 8-10 Green Drake Paradrake. Brown-yellow
Slow-moderate runs, backeddies, slackwater: standard dry fly


NYMPH COLOR: Pale yellow-brown

DUN SIZE: 10-15 mm (3/8-5/8 in)

DUN COLOR: Wings--smoky with brown mottling. Body--yellow-brown.

SPINNER SIZE: 10-15 mm (3/8-5/8 in)

SPINNER COLOR: Wings--clear with dark markings. Body--yellow-brown.

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Nymph--tusks and three fringed tails. Dun and spinner--three tails; dark markings on back.