Golden Stonefly

Scientific Names: genera Hesperoperla and Calineuria

Golden stoneflies behave in a manner similar to salmonflies , but they are a tad smaller and on most streams they begin hatching about two weeks later. Their hatch season overlaps with the salmonflies, so adults of both species are often available at the same time. I believe that given a choice, trout prefer the golden stones.

Nymphs are large and live in riffles and rocky, bouldery areas with moderate to fast current. They often lose their grip and are taken all year by trout. An appropriate pattern dead-drifted near the bottom is effective. Choose your imitation carefully, however. Many fly shops sell a golden stonefly nymph that is golden in color, but the actual nymph is mottled shades of tan, black, and brown. However, when golden stonefly nymphs molt, the new instar can briefly be a much brighter color. It's possible that trout key in on that brighter shade, which would explain why an imitation works when it seems to be unlike the color of the vast majority of the natural insects.

When mature, the nymphs crawl to shore, climb onto alder trunks, grass stems, exposed rocks, and other out-of-the-water objects. In the process of migrating towards shore, many nymphs are knocked lose. Also, migration is heaviest near dawn and dusk, so fish a nymph pattern near shore at those times.

Once the nymph is out of the water, the winged adult emerges. They soon mate, and females return to the water to lay their eggs--usually in the afternoon or early evening. When adults are present, drift a dry fly through riffles and rocky areas, under overhanging tree limbs, and near shore. If your imitation is well chosen and your presentation is good, you won't be dissapointed.

Nymphs typically live three years underwater. Adult lifespans are two or three weeks. As the adults mature and prepare to lay eggs, they darken in color; if you're a fussy fly tyer, you can change the color of your dubbing to match.

Golden stonefly tactics are mostly the same as salmonfly tactics, so for more details see the articles.


How to Match a Golden stonefly

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

Size 6-10 Kaufmanns Stonefly, Rubber Legs. Brown-yellow, gold-yellow
Bankwater near foilage: indicator, tight line
Riffles, moderate-fast runs, backeddies, seams: standard dry fly, skating
Riffles, moderate-fast runs, backeddies, seams: standard dry fly, skating


NYMPH COLOR: Mottled dark brown to yellow-tan

ADULT SIZE: 22-38 mm

ADULT COLOR: Wings--medium brown. Body--Yellow-brown to golden head and abdomen

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Nymphs have gills between legs ("hairy armpits"). Adult males are smaller than females. Females develop dark brown egg sac at rear of abdomen prior to laying eggs.