How do I Raise Hellgrammites?

by Rachel Rosman
To find often ellusive hellgrammites, upturn rocks along river currents.

To find often ellusive hellgrammites, upturn rocks along river currents.

Hellgrammites, the larval form of the dorsal fly, resemble a cross between a scorpion and a centipede with brown coloring and pinchers at the forward end. They typically reside under rocks in cold, fast-moving streams, lakes or rivers and spend most of their two- to five-year lifespan in this larval stage. Trout and bass fisherman often use hellgrammites as an optimal form of live bait. Hellgrammites are generally caught in the wild rather than raised.

Using a three person team, allow two people to run the minnow seine below the stream current.

The third person will upturn rocks along the stream and scratch at the gravel beneath them. As the rocks are upturned, the current catches any exposed hellgrammites and sweeps them upstream into the seine. This method may require several attempts before you successfully catch any hellgrammites.

To preserve the life of captured hellgrammites, fill a plastic tub with approximately two inches of water.

In the center of the tub, add a few rocks to allow the hellgrammites to climb out of the water. Add river moss to give them a place to hide.

Store the plastic tub in a cool, dark place and change the water every three to four days. Caught hellgrammites can survive for weeks.

Items you will need

  • Minnow seine
  • Steep-sided plastic tub
  • Rocks
  • River moss


  • Known for painful pinching, handle hellgrammites with caution.

About the Author

Rachel Rosman started writing in 1997 as a movie reviewer for her local newspaper. She currently writes for a Boston-based daily deals website. Rosman graduated cum laude from Brandeis University in 2011, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing

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