Al Caucci Fly Fishing
Clark Fork & Bitterroot
Al Caucci's Biography
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By Al Caucci
Paralep is the scientific "nickname" for the genus Paraleptophlebia. Heavy
hatches of these small mayflies are among the first to greet winter-weary eastern and midwestern anglers. My memories are bright with their April midday hatching amid
unexpected afternoon snow showers. The most popular common names for Paraleps are
"blue quill" and "mahogany dun."
Just before the Hendricksons start, you can expect heavy hatches of Paraleptophlebia
adoptiva. They will hatch when the water temperatures are approximately 50 degrees F. for
a few days. Hatches start as early as 11:00 A.M. and continue through most of the
afternoon, with the best activity occurring during the warmest part of the day.
There are over 30 species of Paraleptophlebia, most inhabiting the rivers of the
Rockies and west coast. The most significant species in the East and Midwest are P. adoptiva, P. mollis and P. debilis. In the Rockies and on the west coast, it's P. debilis,
P. bicornuta and P. packi.
P. adoptiva is a key hatch in the East and Midwest, such as on Pocono, Catskill and
Adirondack streams, as well as in the rivers of northern Wisconsin and Michigan, including
the Upper Peninsula. I have experienced excellent Paralep action during the last two weeks
of April on the Upper Delaware River, just prior to the Hendrickson (Ephemerella) hatch.
Once the Hendricksons get going, the trout may lose their interest for the smaller
Paralep nymphs prefer slow to moderate water, and their streamlined appearance is very
similar to those of the Baetis nymph. They are most easily recognized by their size
(6 to 10mm long) and their long and delicate "forked" gills.
The three-tailed duns have dark brown or mahogany bodies (6 to 8mm)
and pale- to medium gray wings, which seem solid in color. The small hind wings are
distinctly oval in shape and are easily distinguished from the minute, ribbon-like hind
wings of the two-tailed Baetis that hatch during the same period.
Comparaduns are the imitations of choice for the duns, especially in the early season
when the body of the dun floats in the film for a long time. On rivers like the West
Branch of the Delaware, where their numbers are extremely prolific, you may have to resort
to a Compara-emerger with trailing shuck. CDC emergers are also effective and easy to see,
but less durable. All patterns should be tied with thin bodies, like the
natural, -a thickly-dubbed body can be a definite turnoff with selective, wild trout.
Drag free drifts are also a necessity! The spinner is
usually not as important during cool weather, but can be very
important when the air temperature warms up.