The beauty of working in streams most of the summer is that I get an in depth look at the diversity of macroinvertebrate life and streamside ecology. Performing stream restoration and habitat improvement projects allow me to witness insect hatches alongside excavators, loaders, and ASVs moving rock and placing in rock riffles, weirs, and coarse woody habitat. This knowledge helps me place when and where I'll find certain insects and where they'll emerge. Know where the bugs are, and you'll find the fish.
Turning over stones will give you an indicator of what bugs are present and where. Kick seining is also a useful tool, though sometimes you may catch drifters from a reach upstream that may not be entirely indicative of the assemblage under foot. Regardless, getting this involved in investigating what's going on in the stream bed is a hell of a lot more useful than approaching a reach blind, especially when there is no apparent hatch going on. Even more so when approaching new waters, and not knowing whether or not that section of stream possesses the water quality necessary for many species of mayflies and stoneflies, as well as other macroinvertebrates.
I found a treasure trove of stonefly nymphs the other day, ranging in size from microstones to golden stoneflies and brown willow flies. Plecoptera provide some of the biggest meals for many fish, especially those that prefer invertebrates without claws. They are also an excellent indicator species, intolerant of water pollution. Seems that Skwalas are the buzzword lately, especially among folks in the PNW. Whether or not it's the hip fly for you to fish or not, stoneflies are big meaty morsels and fish do eat them.
There are a ton of different patterns you can fish as stonefly nymphs, ranging from attractor patterns like yellow sallies and prince nymphs to skwala skaters. I typically rely on my Fresh Pimp Nymphs to get the job done when fishing stonefly waters. This is probably my most fished pattern in the spring, next to the Thunderbird. They both are great attractor patterns worthy of fooling fish feeding on stonefly nymphs, hellgrammites, or large mayfly drakes.
Tough to beat big meat.