I sometimes forget about the importance of mayfly spinners. I was on the river the other night with no visible activity. I decided to blind-cast in a couple locations where I know trout live. What fly should I tie on? I remembered PMD’s had been hatching recently and knew from past experience a Rusty Spinner would be a good choice. I tied one on.

Do you recall what spinners are? They are the final stage of a mayfly’s life. And they can be very important to the fly fisher!

Here are a few real mayfly spinners


Callibaetis Spinner - Ennis Lake | www.johnkreft.com
East Lake Callibaetis Spinner | www.johnkreft.com


Rusty Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

Green Drake

Green Drake Spinner on Water | www.johnkreft.com

Lastly, here is the smallest…a size 24 or 26.


Trico Spinner from Missouri River | www.johnkreft.com

The main characteristic to identify the spinner phase of a mayfly are the clear, opaque wings which lay outstretched and flat on the surface film.  These are called hyaline wings and provide an extremely reflective surface which I think attracts fish. You can see the similarity of wings in all the photos.

I wrote about spinners in other RiverKeeper Flies posts – Mayfly Spinners and Spinners. To learn more about the mayfly life-cycle, read Pale Morning Duns – PMDs.

If you see dimples on the water from a trout, it has probably sipped a PMD spinner.

How about a few flies to imitate this stage? I believe the silhouette of the transparent wing is a key characteristic to imitate mayfly spinners.

Rusty Spinner – Biot Body

Rusty Spinner Biot Body | www.johnkreft.com

Callibaetis Spinner

Callibaetis Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

Rusty Paraspinner

Rusty Paraspinner | www.johnkreft.com

Trico Spinner

Trico Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

I seem to get caught up in using mayfly cripples and dun fly patterns and forget about the importance of spinners. Trout eagerly take these flies.

Here is a Youtube video I took on Ennis Lake of a Trico Dun turning into a Trico Spinner.

Remember my original story? I did catch one unsuspecting rainbow with the Rusty Spinner I tied on the end of my line. It saved the day!

Enjoy…go fish!

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