Fly Tying 1 min read

Mayfly Life Cycle: A Trout’s View

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

March 31, 2016

mayfly life cycle

Last Friday night we kicked off our Baetis fly tying video series in anticipation of one of the most prolific mayfly hatches of the season, the Blue Winged Olives (BWO).

Before we continue the series I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick review of the Mayfly Life Cycle. Fortunately for us, Ralph and Lisa Cutter produced Bugs of the Underworld a really cool DVD that provides a fascinating trout’s view of the mayfly life cycle.

The video clip above is an excerpt of the DVD that covers Mayfly nymph, emerger, dun, and spinner life stages filmed underwater as trout see them. Clingers, crawlers, burrowers and swimmer mayflies are profiled for the fly fisherman, aquatic ecologist, student, and budding entomologist to see, for the first time, in their natural state.

Mayfly Life Cycle

The mayfly life cycle is rather simple progressing from an egg directly to the nymph stage and then the adult stage, a process called incomplete metamorphosis. Mayfly nymphs closely resemble the adults they blossom into, unlike the Caddisfly that goes through a complete metamorphosis and looks nothing like the adult in the early (larval and pupal) development stages.

Gilbert Rowley illustrates the mayfly life cycle from the egg to the nymph and through the various adult stages (emerger, dun and spinner) that are of interest to flyfishers.

mayfly life cycle

Nymphs, Emergers, Duns and Spinners, Oh My!

Now that we have a visual understanding of the mayfly life cycle, when we come back next week we’ll resume our Baetis fly tying video series and serve up some scrumptious Blue Winged Olive patterns that imitate all the various stages and are sure to make your season.