Good Places to Learn Bug Identification


Active Member
I was wondering if anyone knows any good websites where I can learn about bug identification and get some species and stuff down pretty well? All I've been able to find are articles explaining what mayflies are and a site with every bug ever but not super helpfully organized. Any book recommendations that are helpful for bug identification would be awesome to know too!

Rocking Chair Fan

No more hot spotting
@Taxon is our resident expert and most likely on other sites. Hope he can give some guidance. Always nice to see younger people to want to learn more. It should be encouraged for sure. He has been notified of your post...
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Active Member
Gabe - As Rockin' chair fan suggests @Taxon on the forum. Oh, then there's this forum itself. Lots of good books out there. Are you more interested in stream or lake entomology? I don't have too many books anymore but a few come to mind: Stillwater Strategies (by our own @Tim Lockhart), Phil Rowley's Fly Patterns for Stillwaters, a classic: "Kamloops" by Steve Raymond. Here's one for streams: Selective Trout: The Last Word on Stream Entomology and Aquatic Insect Imitation: Swisher, Doug, Richards, Carl, Whitlock, Dave, Lyons, Nick: 9781510729858: Books A true classic.

Good luck. I'd suggest a fly club but if you're 17 - you ain't gonna want to hang out with a bunch of Boomers.


WFF Supporter
This book by Thomas Ames has sections about the natural history of mayflies, caddis flies, and stone flies and then facing pages with a picture of the real bug and on the opposite page several imitations and suggestion on how to fish them. He takes his own photos and most of the bug photos were taken along the White River in Vermont.

Edit, Good Lord, I don't how this book got to be $90!! It's good, but maybe not that good.

Jim M-glass guy

Active Member
I have recently (1 year ago) read "BUG WATER" by Arlen Thomason, which deals with bugs in their aquatic environment. Very pictorial and informative and alot of info in there. In one coversation with TAXON, online in this forum, he had a link to what I believe was a NW emergence chart and it was incredible and worth finding and printing for a chart on whats "what" and when its coming online in the time of the year. Very good info. I have, but have yet to read Dave Whitlock's Guide to Aquatic Trout Foods and I believe it is also good. I have also picked up and read many of Dave Hughes books which are very good and he has one, I haven't read yet, but you mentioned Mayflies, One of his books on Mayflies is ..."Mayflies... everything you need to know to match any mayfly you'll ever encounter". I have yet to read it as well but its on the list. Anything written by Gary LaFontaine is excellent and especially .."Caddisflies" and I am presently finishing "The Dry Fly.. New Angles". LaFontaine's books are excellent and also discusses methods of fishing the flies as well as the insect life applicable to the water setting and fishing. Sometimes it may be a little technical and tough sledding to read but very good in depth information on his research with insects and fly fishing. I sometimes find some amazing books at a very reasonable price at Half Price Books and also thrift stores around. I have also bought new books from fly shops. Like to find the ones I really want to keep forever and buy them new but I have found treasures as used books. Don't overlook the fellow, "TAXON" who is incredibly informed with insects and also a really nice guy and so helpful to all. Hope I didn't get too carried away. Good luck.


WFF Moderator
Hi Gfisher2003-

Assuming you are interested in developing skill in identifying the aquatic insects and other aquatic invertebrates found in our freshwaters, the book I would strongly recommend for you is Aquatic Entomology: The Fishermens Guide and Ecologists Illustrated Guide to Insects and Their Relatives by W. Patrick McCafferty. It is unquestionably the most complete and highest quality book on general aquatic entomology, particularly for those interested in getting more than ankle-deep into the subject.


Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
I know you mentioned internet but I find working with a book easier. I try to take good pictures, or keep actual specimens collected and put them in short wide mouth mason jelly jars. Then I also use The Complete Book of Western Hatches by Hafle and Hughes as mentioned by @Kilchis also to identify. I find that noting the environment I found it in helps, as I don't have the detail eye to differentiate different bug parts. The books descriptions help in that area. I live in South East Washington and it helps with them all that I encounter.
On the web troutnut
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