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.


How to Match a Yellow quill

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

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


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.