Monday, 26 August 2013

This week I have mostly been tying...

Klinkhammers and bead head nymphs.

Black Klinkhammer with black and grizzle hackles
Light tan Klinkhammer with red game hackle
Pheasant tail bead head tied with wire
Baetis bead head nymph with biot body and dubbed thorax
Copper bead head Pheasant tail nymph

Bead head Baetis nymph with wire over dubbed body and squirrel thorax
Copper bead head caddis pupa
Copper bead head caddis pupa (wet)





Saturday, 24 August 2013

Never forget the edges.


As we get towards the end of the season, the rivers I fish are now bank to bank weed. This can make fish spotting problematic; if they are slightly tucked underneath they are virtually impossible to spot, if your lucky you might see the end of a tail.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Frustrating failure to connect.


An early finish at lunchtime saw me able to have an afternoon on the river. The river I fished on today was running painfully low; stark contrast to the beginning of the season when it was the fullest I'd ever seen it. The low water conditions made things difficult, most glides were as flat as glass and any riffles simply too shallow. This river has a lot more weed growth than it used to in the past. Ranunculus has sprouted up in so many new areas which can only be good, before there would be yards and yards of bare gravel bottom. A downside to all this new growth especially getting towards the end of season, is when it starts to die off; there were many clumps floating down river. Despite the conditions there were frequent rises all along the stretch I fished. I saw the odd olive hatching along with caddis on the wing. I couldn't discern what the trout were taking, though I suspect they were taking whatever came along.

To cover all angles I tied on a size 16 Adams klinhÄmmer; this fly really is my all-rounder searching pattern. The first fish that took failed to connect, the second came off after a few seconds. It wasn't until the third fish did I actually land a fish, a small escapee rainbow of around 7". A fine-looking fish with a full tail but it shouldn't be in the river so I chose to remove it; the fish had other ideas and wriggled its way to freedom.

The afternoon continued with many more unconnected takes along with another fish that came off mid-fight. Most rises came to the klink but I also tried a small CDC olive but this didn't improve matters. It was very frustrating and to make things worse my casting wasn't up to par either; many a branch was hooked and a few flies lost.

The best fish of the day was also my last. Stationed on the edge due to ranunculus filling the middle of the river, this fish was hanging mid-current in a narrow, deeper section of river. A couple of casts with a klink brought the fish up to inspect but it refused to take. I feel the surface was far too flat for the klink so I looked for a more refined alternative. Out came a size 16 CDC olive; I dressed this with a watery-olive biot and a small amount of squirrels guard hair dubbed as a thorax. I made a couple of casts but they failed to bring the fish up, much more to do with them being out of line than anything. The first cast that drifted the fly directly over the fish saw it lift up and sip down the olive. It fought well taking line off the reel before lodging itself into some weed. I brought the weed and the now quiet fish to the net, the weed kindly blinding the fish in to submission. The trout was long and a bit lean, but it's pleasing to finally catch a sizeable fish. A couple of pictures and it was promptly returned. I called in a day after that I was nearly time to go so better to end on a good fish.



Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sawyer's Killer bug


My love for Sawyer's Pheasant tail nymph has been lengthy, I have used this fly for years now. My romance with the Killer bug is much more recent, this year in fact. I have in the past fished with this pattern; they were tied with Veniards 477 sub which is a perfectly acceptable. My results were relatively poor with very few fish succumbing to it. It became one of those back of the fly box, forgotten, only to surface when all else fails; a last-ditch effort. But unsurprisingly as I never gave it a chance, it rarely produced the goods. With my return to fly fishing and fly tying this year it was placed on my to do list; not sure why given its poor record with me, but I felt it had a place in the fly box.

Chadwicks 454 along with a couple of
beige yarns

With my obvious desire to tie flies in their original form I set about looking for some Chadwicks 477. For those that have ever looked at buying some original 477 yarn you'll know it's not cheap; I've seen cards go from £50-£90 each and recently a metre sold for £28.77 on eBay. As much as I want to tie traditional flies as closely as possible there is no way I'm spending that. I had to find an alternative.

Along with the Killer bug in its original form I also wanted to tie some in a cream coloured wool with a gold wire under body to imitate the humble maggot. This fly would solely be for coarse fish and a look in a local haberdashery found some Chadwicks wool in beige. I found in the past that the Veniards sub is quite thick and it was easy to create a fly that ends up far too bulky. The beige wool was quite slim in comparison, I though that perhaps there were other colours made by Chadwicks that are close to the original 477. I stumbled across a Chadwicks wool in colour 454; I had read whilst researching that it was a good substitute, at 90p for a card it was well worth a punt, in fact I bought three. In my hands the colour looks close enough, and as everyone argues that the fish don't know the difference it would certainly do.

Killer bug tied with beige Chadwicks
Killer bug tied with Chadwicks 454










I tie this pattern in the traditional way, using just wire and wool. I use either red or wine coloured wire and start with a double layer of wire for the under body. Tie the wool in by itself and wrap two or three layers depending of hook size of which I use are sizes 12 and 14. Tie the wool off with the wire at the bend making a little hot-spot and super-glued for durability. When wet the flies darken up and the beige bugs look nice and translucent, much like a maggot it imitates.

Chadwicks 454 when wet
Beige Chadwicks when wet










So are you wondering where this new-found love comes from; it simply comes from it catching my PB wild brown trout on a Sawyer's Killer bug.


I found this fish milling about a small section; the river in question is an urban river. It flows along steep high banks which make fishing from the bank difficult to say the least along with this that water is clear, sluggish and relatively deep; wading fails miserably. Although these fish are well used to human traffic walking by, they are immediately suspicious if you stop to look. The trick is to walk along, spot a fish and keep walking, then back track whilst keeping very low. This still only really gives you one or two casts, after that forget it; move on and find another fish. So back to the fish I had spotted. I spent half an hour just watching this trout. It mostly swam around in a circular route, it chased of any other trout that came within view but more importantly it rose occasionally taking Danica mayflies. Unfortunately for me I didn't have any mayfly patterns. The closest I came was some size 10 Yellow Humpy's tied with grizzle and brown hackles.

Sawyer's Killer Bug Fooled This Big Urban Trout

I tried this fish about three or four times with the Humpy, it ignored it except for once when it did swim underneath, rising up to inspect it, but failing to take. I then tried with a smaller fly, the PHD, this was completely ignored. This left me in a quandary, I have never had this many chances at a trout like this on this section, least of all a big trout. So I scrapped the dry flies. I opened the nymph box; I felt I had a problem, most of my nymphs are size 16 or smaller and because I had only been tying flies for a couple of months, the inventory was small. I felt I needed something substantial, meaty, to tempt this fish; and there they were, Sawyer's Killer bugs. I chose a size 14, a big enough morsel without being to large to attract suspicion. Before I cast out the Killer bug I gave this fish some more time. Never before in my fishing career have I ever devoted so much time to one fish, more amazingly I didn't spook this fish either. It took a couple of attempts before the fly landed and drifted down to the fish perfectly. As the fly reached the trout it was at the same depth, the trout did nothing but open its mouth and inhale; all of this was about ten feet in front of me. A quick lift set the hook. The fish was very dogged, it used it weight to stay down deep in the water. It didn't produce any long powerful runs, with the river being relatively deep and sluggish it just bored deep in to the weeds. It fought for a good five minutes, luckily for me a passer-by took some pictures; not perfect but I'm so pleased to have this fish on film. I feel this season has been the turning point for me, I have become more relaxed and methodical in my fishing and the result is this fish.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Danica Humpy variant


I find the old traditional American dry flies fascinating. To me they are eye candy flies when perfectly tied. But despite that I enjoy looking at and tying them I have never really had much confidence to fish with them. I have no idea why I feel they way about them, I suppose I have never really given them a fair and thorough use. Of all the US flies the Humpy is a particular favourite of mine and to give it a fair chance I have tweaked the recipe to give me a pattern that may well prove its worth. In a larger size the Humpy can certainly be used to imitate the Danica mayfly. This got me thinking that maybe I could make the fly an even better representation of the mayfly by adjusting the colours of the materials used. The best video I have ever seen on tying the Humpy is found on a YouTube channel by tightlinevideo, the videos are clear, instructional and the flies are perfectly tied. I have used the Humpy in this video as my benchmark for this pattern.

Oliver Edwards Mohican mayfly
One of my favourite mayfly patterns is Oliver Edwards Mohican mayfly; so much so that I exclusively only use this pattern as a dun imitation. So I thought about what I could take from the Mohican and transfer it over to the Humpy to make it a closer match to a Danica. The Humpy uses grizzle and red game for the hackle; the Mohican uses medium dun and grizzle dyed yellow so an easy swap there. The Humpy has many variants simply by adjusting the underbody colour; I've used a cream coloured thread to match the body of the Danica. The moose body hair used on the Humpy has been kept, the Mohican uses moose mane. On the tightlinevideo the wing and over body hump is tied using one stack of elk hair, this keeps the pattern simple and helps minimise bulk. The Mohican mayfly has a yellow dyed deer hair wing tied so it is laterally compressed.

Bleached elk wing
Yellow deer hair wing
                          

I originally tied some Danica Humpy's with the standard bleached elk wing and hump, but given the colour of the Mohican wing I thought the extra step of tying in a separate yellow deer hair wing could be worth it. I have found the yellow wing mostly blends in to the hackle and not standing out as a separate feature. Aesthetically the bleached wing looks better but the yellow wing looks tastier; I'll let the fish decide.

Underneath shot showing the cream underbody
Moose body hair tail and elk hump upper body