I got an E-mail recently from a Lady called Natalie at Barblessflies – it contained the following infographic, a very detailed, informative piece on the lifecycle and stages of the Mayfly hatch to get the best from your Mayfly Fishing . I thoroughly enjoyed the article, Natalie asked would I post it here and I eagerly obliged, however, if you ask me to do anything, although you can be sure i’ll do it – it could take 6 months. .

So  here it is,.although a little late, but a piece that can be referenced year on year.




Mayfly lifecycle

Diawa S4

Greys GR20








Fly Fishing the Mayfly Lifecycle

One of the most eagerly anticipated up-winged flies a fly angler encounters on the river is the Ephemera danica, commonly known as the Mayfly. Mayflies generally hatch from mid May, lasting until the middle to end of June. They generally only live for one day, but do you know how to fish them during their short lifespan? If you want to increase your chances of some great trout catches, read on how to conveniently imitate these marvelous flies and learn how to get the best out of Mayfly Fishing .

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Mayflies in demand!

Ever wondered why mayflies are considered the most eagerly awaited hatches in the world of fly fishing?

  • Beautiful and elegant, they are one of the species which attract trout the most, due to their size.
  • They are one of the most important foods for trout. They are extremely nutritious.
  • Trout find them most delicious when they contain eggs. Thus, the mayflies are most attractive and vulnerable during their egg-dropping phase.
  • Imitation Mayflies can be used for fishing throughout the Mayflies entire lifespan. Talk about versatility and convenience!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Did You Know?

  • There are about 41 known families of mayflies with around 2500 different species!
  • About 51 species of mayflies can be found in Britain.
  • Mayflies survive for about 24 hours! That’s quite a short lifespan!
  • Mayfly Fishing is awesome!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The Lifecycle

The mayfly goes through 4 main stages:

  • Nymph: Crawls out from the silt in a morning and swims to the surface.
  • Emerger: The nymph emerges from its shuck and transforms into a Dun.
  • Dun: The adult form of a Mayfly, momentarily waits on the surface for its wings to dry and then flies to some cover to molt into a Spinner.
  • Spinner: In the early evening, the adult mayflies dance above the river to mate, the female then returns to the river to lay its eggs, it then dies and becomes what’s known as a spent spinner.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Catch them all!

Since the mayflies are a jackpot for those hungry trout, amp up your fishing game by keeping a note of the best tactics. With the following guidelines, here’s how you can make the most of the Mayfly in each of its stages.


Spot them: The nymphs incubate in its silt burrow on the river bed for 2 years and in a morning will start swimming to the surface (generally before 1pm).

Expert skill: Use an 8ft to 9ft rod, along with a floating line and 8ft to 10ft of leader. Use a cut down 9ft tapered leader (use the last 5ft) and then 4ft of 5x tippet. Fish a large cream coloured Mayfly Nymph (the nymphs are up to 2.5cm long) so a size 10 or 12 is a good imitation to use Mayfly Fishing .

Pro tip: Remember you are looking for sections of river which are below a slow running silty section and preferably where the river narrows. This funnel effect will act as a conveyor belt delivering the mayfly nymphs to the waiting trout. The better sized trout will be at the head of the pool, so steadily work your way up.

Once the Emergers appear on the water the fish will ignore the nymphs.

– – – – – – – –



Spot them: The Emergers start to appear during the afternoon into early evening. It’s time to change tactics!

Expert skill: Still using the same 8ft to 9ft rod and floating line, use a 9ft tapered leader with 2ft of 4x tippet. Use a typical large mayfly Emerger pattern, something like the Loop-Wing Mayfly in a size 10 or 12 is great when Mayfly Fishing.

Pro tip: The Mayfly Emerger will hatch horizontally and is easy prey for the trout. This can easily be identified by the rise form of the trout, you should see a “head and tail” rise, i.e. the mayfly cannot fly away just yet, so the trout just sip them down. It is essential that no drag is apparent with the fly when fishing emergers, so make each cast count.

– – – – – – – –


Spot them: The mayfly dun is the adult stage of the mayfly. This one can fly away when on the river surface, so you will see the trout splash at these.

Expert skill: The same 8ft to 9ft rod and floating line and a 9ft tapered leader with 2ft of 4x tippet would do here. Tie on an adult mayfly pattern – something like a Detached Body Mayfly, again in size 10 or 12.

Pro tip: Remember to dry your fly thoroughly after each take, these flies need to be presented high on the surface. Don’t be too hasty when striking for these, sometimes it pays to just delay the strike a moment.

– – – – – – – –


Spot them: Once the dun has molted into a spinner and mated, it returns to the river to lay its eggs during the late afternoon. This is some of the most eagerly anticipated fly fishing of the year! A few species crawl underwater – generally down the side of submerged rocks – and deposit their eggs directly on the bottom.

Expert skill: Again using the same outfit as before, use a spinner pattern. These are an easy target for trout, so you will see the same “head and tail” rises. Target slow, deep and silty water; this is where the female will lay her eggs.

Pro tip: If you see spinners dancing above you, pay very close attention to the water for softly rising fish, and look for dead spinners caught in small pockets of dead water behind rocks or debris. If you find any, pick them up so you can get a good idea on their size and colour and then select an appropriate pattern.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

All fly anglers know the importance of imitating a Mayfly during the trout season, using the above tips you should be able to make the most of your day on the river. After all, Mayflies are the trout’s favorite food!

Check out our wide range of Mayfly imitations and make the most out of your day on the river! Tight Lines!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –