Home » Entomology » Black stonefly

Small Brown Stonefly

Scientific Names: families Nemouridae, Capniidae, Leuctridae

Common Names: Small Brown Stonefly, black stonefly, winter stonefly, winter black stonefly, early brown stonefly


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NYMPH SIZE: 6-12 mm

NYMPH COLOR: Shades of brown

ADULT SIZE: 6-12 mm

ADULT COLOR: Dark brown or black body and head. Wings smoky gray to nearly black. Black stonefly adults (family Capniidae) have very black body, head, and wings.

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Nymphs have few or no external gill filaments.


About Small Brown Stoneflies

Many fly anglers are unfamiliar with the brown stoneflies. They have excuses: the insects is small and not as glamorous as salmonflies or golden stoneflies; hatches are rarely intense; and the insects hatch January through April, when many anglers have hung up the rod for the winter. But trout do not ignore these bugs, and when one lands on the water it is soon inhaled by a hungry trout.

Nymphs are rarely taken by trout until the hatch season. By February, however, a nymph pattern dead-drifted near the bottom can pick up a fish or two.

The adults are much more interesting. Females lay eggs sporadically throughout the day, so you won't see big mating swarms. They land on the water and release their eggs--quickly because trout are looking for them and will take them eagerly.

Look carefully in streamside vegetation and on snowbanks. When you find a stonefly (about size 12), match its size and color with a Parachute Black Stone or Elk Hair Caddis.

Articles Small Brown Stoneflies

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Small Brown Stoneflies Small brown stoneflies--some of which are black, not brown--are a winter hatch that is overlooked by many fly anglers. Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele


Adult small brown stonefly. (photo © 2006 Arlen Thomason. Used by permission.)

Matching Small Brown Stoneflies

Only standard fly patterns are shown. Click here for all matching flies in the database.







A. P. Nymph, Hares Ear

12-16/Dark brown

Indicator, Tight line

Bankwater, slow-moderate runs


Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis

12-16/Black, dark brown

Standard dry fly

Bankwater, slow-moderate runs

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