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How to identify the summer stone when fly fishing

Article and photos by Jon Baiocchi
Classinea Subulosa, also known as the summer stone can be an important part of the trout's diet during their emergence in late summer and early fall. During this time most of the big bugs of spring and early summer have hatched, some exceptions are the October Caddis, and the Isonychia mayfly which give the trout their last prime rib dinner of aquatic insects a bit later in the fall.

Jon Baiocchi, Under developed wings of the male Stub Wing Stonefly are clearly visible.
Under-developed wings of the male Stub Wing Stonefly are clearly visable.

This species is very unique because the male has very short wings and cannot fly; the female has fully developed wings yet runs across the water to oviposit her eggs. I've seen live specimens on the lower Yuba just after emergence as they crawl around moist decomposed plant matter hiding out in search of a mate. They are elusive.

The Summer Stone can be identified by the shape of a
The Summer Stone can be identified by the shape of a "W" on its head.

It's tough to get an ID on them as they are closely related to the Golden Stonefly, I've misidentified them many times myself. The easiest way to tell one from the other is the Stub Wing has a large "W" on the head, while the Golden has an hour glass shaped vertical marking on its own head. Another clue to identification is the Stub Wing has much longer antenna and tails which are darker than that of the Golden Stone. On some tail waters like the lower Yuba their emergence can be timed as the flows are decreased from the dam.

Nymphs on rock, Scent trails of emerging nymphs attract other Stoneflies for mating., photo by Jon Baiocchi
Scent trails of emerging nymphs attract other Stoneflies for mating.

For nymphing, high sticking the side water with a nymph that closely resembles the Stub Wing is a great tactic; size and profile count more than an exact color match when choosing a fly. These presentations should be dead drifted. For the adult, a tan stimulator skated and twitched in and below the riffles can result in some very explosive takes. Aquatic insects continuously impress me, the one rule I have learned with them is there are no rules, only guide lines. Fresh large stonefly shucks this time of year are most likely the Stub Wing, look for clues on your next venture of your favorite river; you just may find the summer stone.

Jon Baiocchi has been fly fishing and tying flies since 1972 and is a California licensed fly fishing guide, published author, educator, innovative tier and public speaker has given fly fishing presentations to clubs and expos around the state. Jon operates Baiocchi’s Troutfitters guide service in Northeastern California where he has a reputation as a hard working guide who has been trained by some of fly fishing’s best known master anglers. He can be reached at BaiocchisTroutfitters.com.


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