Hellgrammite, The King Kong of Aquatic Insects

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If Jabba the Hut from Star Wars was an aquatic insect, he’d have to be a Hellgrammite. Photo By Louis Cahill

I was on the water trout fishing the other day, when my buddy Erik Ashlin said, “it was just about this time last year, when all the hellgrammites began crawling into the shallows to begin their pupation. Let me flip over a rock and see if I can find one real quick, these guys are wicked looking”. No joke, the first rock Erik turned over, this freaking giant 3″ Hellgrammite was laying there with its jaws of life (mandibles) snapping. It was very clear it was gesturing, “come on, get closer…, let me get a piece of you”!

If you ever get the opportunity to examine a big Hellgrammite up close, there will be no doubt in your mind that the Hellgrammite is the King Kong of all aquatic insects. Be careful handling them because they can pack one hell of a painful pinch capable of breaking the skin. Hellgrammites are like a five course meal in terms of food value to trout. I’d lay a bet they pack every bit as much caloric worth as sculpins and crayfish do. Great times to fish hellgrammite imitations are during high flows after heavy rains. During these conditions, they often get dislodged from under rocks and swept down stream. Hellgrammites are also very vulnerable during behavioral drifts, when the larva are searching out new feeding grounds or better water conditions.

If you’re trying to tempt a trophy brown trout, rainbow trout, or smallmouth bass into eating, you can’t go wrong with a hellgrammite imitation. That being said, Hellgrammites shouldn’t be used as your everyday searching pattern. Somedays you’ll find fish won’t pay them any attention, while other days, they’ll be your big fish producers. Eirk Ashlin, the creator of the “Hellaiser” with Rainy’s Flies, agrees saying, “I frequently tie one on during the spring summer months right off the bat in the morning and after I fish two or three holes, I know if I’m going to keep it tied on or stow it away in fly box the rest of the day”. I think every fly angler should always carry a few hellgrammite patterns in their fly box, if not just to pay respect to this amazing aquatic insect.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Hellgrammite, The King Kong of Aquatic Insects

  1. You know dare I say it but it legal to hang one of these creatures under a bubble where I am from. Absolutely deadly after a fresh when all these critters have been washed out from under the rocks. Hard to resist but a I persist with my fly imitation.You know I do OK. We call then toe biters in New Zealand.

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