Fishing, or even identifying a mayfly spinner fall can be one of the most challenging situations a fly fisherman can experience! Its all about breaking codes and learning to read the signs. With the larger mayflies its somewhat easier to recognize the spinner fall, danica and vulgata are so large that they can be seen at a greater distance floating in a crucifix posture and lifeless in the surface, sometimes with such a high mortality rate they cover the whole surface of the river. But smaller darker and sometimes almost transparent species can be difficult to see even at close quarters.
Mayflies are known for their short lived life, with some species having less than an hour to find a mate and deposit eggs before they die. The first sign to look for, after the initial hatch, is high above you, the swarming dancing, mating mayflies high above the tree tops. After mating and this swarming becomes sparser the males are drained of energy and are fighting to keep themselves airborne but gradually floating down closer to the water, where they die and lie with wings and tails spread out on the surface. The females, who hatch later than the males have a little more energy left to fly upstream to lay their eggs so the current will carry them back down to be deposited in the same stretch of river bed where she lived her nymphal stage of life. After which she dies and becomes spent.
If after examining the waters surface and no spent spinners are visible, look for fish that are steady risers. This is a normal rise form for fish selectively feeding on spent spinners. That being said, smaller fish can become wild in the beginning of a spinner fall making small splashy rises and even leaping clear of the water to take them as they fall. As day turns into night and the spent spinners begin to drown and are trapped in the surface film slightly sinking, the larger fish begin to feed on them, rising every few seconds, not big splashy rises but sipping or slow head and tailing as the spent spinners float over them, as with all predators maximizing energy intake and minimizing energy consumption. Larger ‘Experienced’ fish seam to know that there is no escape for these dead and drowning flies.
This is a mayfly pattern shown here represents NO specific species, but with just a tiny alteration in size and colour can be a good representation for most hatches of smaller to medium sized mayflies. The most time consuming part of this pattern is stripping the peacock herl of its fibers. There are a few ways that you can do this. One is with a regular pencil erasure, just lie the herl down on a flat surface and rub the herl away from you. The other is to pull the herl through your finger and thumb nail as shown here. It takes a little time to master this technique but once you have done it a few times its plain sailing!
Hook Mustad R50 # 18-12
Tying thread Dyneema
Tail Coq de leon
Body Stripped peacock herl
Over body Bug Bond
Wings CDC hackles
Thorax CDC spun into dubbing loop
June 28, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Step by Step | Tags: Bug Bond, CdC, Dry Fly, Fly Fishing, Fly tying books, May fly, small flies, spent spinners, Spinner, Step by Step | 2 Comments
Early tomorrow I will be leaving for the SIM fly festival in the small mountain village of Castel di Sangro in Italy.
I will be demonstrating tying small deer hair dry flies on the 21st and 22nd, along with some other great tyres at the Italian museum of fly fishing.
If you are around its well worth a visit, its a great festival, great town and the Sangro is one great river with some huge trout!
House building caddis larva are available in most waters all year round, and are an important segment of the diet of trout and grayling. There are many techniques that have been developed over the years from fly tying benches all over the world to imitate the house of the caddis larva, but this technique really gives the right impression. This is a pattern I believe was developed in the US, but other than that I cant find any other information about it. The great thing about this pattern is if you trim the rubber legs close to the body you get the impression of a caddis larva house built out of gravel, but if you spin the rubber legs not so tight and trim them a little longer it makes for a great house made of vegetation and sticks. Also the rubber gives that extra needed weight when you need to get down deep and not least extremely durable.
You may find that this isn´t the easiest pattern to tie at the first attempt as the rubber legs seem to have a life of their own, but after a few attempts is no more difficult then any other pattern. Try mixing colours and rubber types to achieve different effects.
Hook Mustad R72NP-BR # 12-6 with Bead head
Tying thread Dyneema
Body Rubber legs
Head Course antron dubbing
June 7, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing art, Fly fishing photography, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Step by Step | Tags: bead head, Caddis, CdC, dubbing, Elasticaddis, Fly Tying, Materials, Rubber legs, Step by Step | 1 Comment
Once again this is a request I have had from several fellow bloggers for the fur hackle spinning technique. Although similar too the spinning deer hair article, there are a few pointers you should be aware of when mastering this technique.
Just about all natural and synthetic furs, feathers and hairs can be used as one form of dubbing or another. Before you start its worth considering what type of hair or material is suitable for the type of fly you are tying. There are several factors regarding the choice of natural materials.
1. Dry fly, nymph, wet.
2. Sinking, floating.
3. Ridged or pulsating.
4. Neat or scruffy.
When you are using natural materials you should consider what kind of animal, lifestyle, and climate it derives from. If choosing a dubbing for a small dry fly the under fur from otter, beaver and coypu have, because of their aquatic lifestyle a super fine under fur which is impregnated with natural water repellant oils, rather like the fur equivalent of CdC. On the other hand if you would like a long pulsating, sinking hackle choose a soft finer hair from an opossum or a rabbit that will absorb water but remain mobile and lively when fished. For nymphs there is of course the classic spiky hares ear dubbing. So to achieve optimal function and design of the the pattern you intend to tie, consider the above before starting.
1. Here I am using an old fashioned bull dog paper clip to hold the fur but for perfect dubbing spinning I can recommend the Marc Petitjean Magic tool. Marc’s magic tool is made from transparent plastic, the advantage with this is that you have much more visual control over the length and lie of the material being used. The above material is a regular hare zonker strip. Place this in the clip so the fibers are 90 degrees to the clip and at this stage you also determine the length of the hackle required.
2. Now with long straight scissors cut off the base and hide from the strip leaving only 2 or 3 mm of fur out from the clips jaws.
3. The finished loaded clip. You should now take care not to apply pressure to the clip and open it before needed. Otherwise all the material will shift or fall out.
4. Make a dubbing loop. If the material you are using is dense ( thick guard hairs and under fur) you will need to make a loop of double tying thread as above. But if the material is fine, a finer loop of split tying thread is sufficient. Also its important that where the two sides of the loop meet the hook shaft that they are touching. If you have them open, one strand of thread on each side of the hook shank the loop will not close correctly, and the material spun will loosen and fall out.
5. Move your bobbin forward towards the hook eye and attach your dubbing spinner.
6. If you are using Dyneema or another thread that is un-waxed, you will need to apply a little dubbing wax to the thread to gain ultimate traction.
7. Once you have placed the material in the loop carefully remove the clip in one smooth movement while keeping tension on the spinner to hold the dubbing loop tight and closed.
8. While keeping tension, spin the dubbing loop clockwise until all the material is secured and flares like a regular hackle.
9. You can now wind on your fur dubbing loop in a traditional hackle style. Taking care to brush back the fibers of each turn before making the next.
10. With this technique you can make as many turns of fur hackle as required. If you make only two turns you have a perfect fur hackle collar or you can cover the whole of the hook shank. If you would like a very spiky dubbed body for a nymph you can cover the whole hook shank and then trim it all down to the body shape you would like.
11. For a buggy nymph dubbing you would need a material that will sink and command a little more volume that a fine dry fly body. This is hares ear. Pull some stiff short fibers from the ears of the hare and some softer more dense hair and fur from the mask.
If you would like to use a fine material make use of a dubbing rake. When pulled through the fur on a skin, this will collect only the finer under fur. If you don’t have a dubbing rake you can also just pluck out the fibers with your fingers.
12. Now place the under fur in the palm of your hand and with the finger of your other hand rub the dubbing around in a clockwise motion. This will blend the dubbing evenly, making it easier to work with.
13. Select a small amount of dubbing and place it between your index finger and the tying thread as shown. When I am teaching people to tie flies one of the most frequently asked questions is – how much dubbing shall I use ? Most fly tyers apply way too much dubbing to the tying thread at one go, so I say, take what you think you should use, half it, and then half it again, and normally you arrive at a usable amount.
14. Now its time to roll the dubbing material onto the tying thread. With the tying thread and dubbing resting on your index finger place the tip of your thumb on top of this so as to trap the material and the thread between your finger and thumb.
Still trapping the thread and material between your finger and thumb push the tip of your thumb towards the tip of your finger, clockwise, thus rolling the material around the thread. You must do this several times up and down the thread to attach the material, forming a kind of dubbing rope. You should also remember one of the most common mistakes with attaching dubbing is that the fly tyer will roll the dubbing firstly clockwise and then anti clockwise when replacing the thumb back into the beginning of the rolling stage, this unwinds the dubbing. Also don’t try and make more than a few cms of dubbing rope at one time, this will also unwind as you wind it onto the hook shank.
15. Once your dubbing rope is ready you can now begin to wind it onto the hook shank to form the body. When you have wound on the first length of dubbing, repeat the process until the desired size of body is achieved. If you would like to taper the body, as in most nymphs begin with a thin dubbing rope, and the apply more dubbing each time making a thicker rope.
16. Once the nymph body is finished tie off behind the hook eye.
17. If you would like an even more buggy effect use a brush ( I use an old tooth brush ) to pull out the fibers to make a buggy body.
18. The brushing gives a soft and mobile, yet spiky nymph body.
19. But if you would like a fine slim body without too many fibers you can trim these off with a fine pair of scissors.
20. The finished trimmed cigar shaped body. Good luck! If you have any questions regarding dubbing dont be shy.
The Midas nymph is my rendition on a more common pattern called the copper John, which uses copper wire instead of gold oval tinsel amongst other things. The interesting thing about the copper John, according to Bruce Olsen sales manager for Umpqua Feather Merchants, The worlds largest manufacturer of commercially tied flies, the copper John is the best selling trout fly in the world. “We sell them by the tens of thousands” Bruce says, and thats just the original copper version. When you add in all the colour variant of that pattern, the numbers get to be absolutely staggering.”
Thousands of anglers around the world cant be wrong. If you haven’t tied and fished with the copper John, its probably time you did!
Head: Gold brass bead head
Hook: Mustad S6ONP-BR # 16-10
Tying thread: Dyneema
Tail: Golden pheasant topping
Thorax: Peacock herl
Legs: Goose biots
Wing case: Medium oval gold tinsel
After having great success with bead head nymphs for both trout and grayling, over a period of time a pattern began to develop. Since the introduction of bead heads in the early eighties, we all know how well they fish, but if I was fishing with exactly the same weighted nymph, but tied with a black bead head instead of a gold one, the amount of takes where not dramatic, but noticeably reduced! So my natural chain of thought is that its the gold head which was the main attractor factor. Why not try a nymph that is totally gold ! After my initial attempts, I quickly discovered that the tinsel body and thorax where extremely venerable to small sharp teeth, and had a very short lifespan. But a coat or two with Bug Bond or Epoxy sorted that out. This is a relatively new pattern and I have only fished it seriously last season, although the results where good, its still too early to say how good! Tie some up and try for yourself, you won’t be disappointed! This spring it will also be tested on sea trout…
June 4, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing art, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step | Tags: bead heads, Bug Bond, copper John, Fly Tying, Grayling, hooks, Midas, Nymph, sea trout flies | Leave a comment