Monday, 26 January 2015

Still flirting with deer hair

Mike's Roe deer

It seems I haven't finished my flirtation with deer hair. Last year was the first time I used Bob Wyatt's Deer hair emerger. It proved to be effective not only for still-water rainbows, but wild browns and grayling. Originally tied on a curved grub hook, I find the Daiichi 1160 klinkhamer a great shape for the DHE although it really is horses for courses. Again Mike's deer hair proved to be impeccable, I have some comparadun hair but it's too light in colour or my liking.

As well as the standard Dhe sporting a hares ear body, I have used a dubbing blend sent to me Andrew Ellis of buzzerfan fame. The dubbing blend - simply labelled scruffy buzzer mix - is originally meant for a deadly buzzer pattern of the same name. I can't see any reason why it wouldn't make a great body for a stillwater emerger, and of course I had to tie the buzzer version too.

Bob Wyatt's DHE
The Dhe mk11 - Wyatt no longer covers the deer hair butts.
Hook: Daiichi 1160 Klinkhamer hook
Thread: 55d GSP
Body and Thorax: Hares ear dubbing
Wing: Deer hair
Bob Wyatt's DHE

Bob Wyatt's DHE
Standard and scruffy buzzer Dhe
Scruffy DHE

Scruffy buzzer dubbing
Scruffy buzzer dubbing blend up close.
Scruffy buzzer
Andrew's Scruffy buzzer
Hook: Curved grub style sizes 10-14
Thread: 55d GSP
Body: Andre Ellis' Scruffy dubbing mix
Rib: Gutermann Sulky metallic thread pearl
Hotspot: Orange seals fur
Thorax: Scruffy buzzer blended with squirrel
Breathers: White antron
Scruffy buzzer

Scruffy DHE

Sunday, 18 January 2015

If I could only have one fly...

Oliver Edwards Heptagenid nymph, a
staple fly for me in the past.
Having always had a predilection for close copy, realistic flies, I lent towards those patterns which may seem too much bother to be worth tying, only to possibly - or eventually - lose it in a tree or submerged obstruction. There's no doubt simpler patterns are equally and possibly more effective - depending on your view of things - and at times I used flies that were more impressionistic. Despite there being easier, quicker flies to tie, my preference was to use ones that could take up to twenty minutes to tie. It was possibly a confidence thing; we all fish better with a healthy dose of confidence and I guess I was guilty in the past of thinking scruffy, uncomplicated patterns couldn't be as good or better than the more realistic ones I used.

Oliver Edwards Baetis nymph, still regularly used
to deadly effect.
There is one fly that has completely changed my view. It hasn't diminished my love to tie intricate, realistic patterns, but they no longer dominate my fly-box. This fly has caught me a huge variety of species from the expected trout and grayling to a wide range of coarse fish species.

It was when watching the urban fly fishing DVD produced by Fish On productions, that I came across JP's caddis pupa. Without realising, I had been tying it slightly differently as I had been tying the hackle behind the bead rather than behind the thorax. This is certainly down to me not paying enough attention to the pattern on the video, although I have purposely changed the ribbing, abdomen and thorax to different materials - very much a variant - it is essentially the same fly and it's effectiveness definitely hasn't been diminished by these small changes.

My variant of JP's pupa, the hackle tied in the right place, behind the thorax.
The most successful colour for me has been the cream bodied one, the green version catches occasionally, though I often find myself fishing just the cream one. A thick brown coloured wire provides a high contrast against the light abdomen colour enhancing the segmentation effect. The hackle is partridge, the thorax is squirrel dubbing - grey or fox - it doesn't really matter which; again this is different to the original pattern which incorporates the same dubbing as the abdomen. As a rule I tie it in sizes 12 to 14 with 2.5mm and 2mm tungsten beads respectively. To give more options larger and smaller beads can be used; in fact this summer - because of low water flows - I was forced to tie some up with copper brass beads, as tungsten was simply too heavy and affected presentation; I ought to tie some without a bead of any sort for use in skinny water and low flows.

The JP Pupa has caught me three barbel this year, this first time I have caught
this species on the fly.

The versatility of this fly is further demonstrated by the many different ways you can use it. I have successfully targeted sighted fish, generally casting upstream and to one side of the visible fish. The plop of the fly landing alerts the fish to its presence - so don't worry too much if the fly lands off course - often this results in an immediate inspection, and with luck an immediate take. You can imagine what happens if that scenario doesn't unfold,  a flat refusal to engage, the trout then becomes suspicious and any repeated casts causing the fish to flee. Of course the JP pupa is not always the right choice, but its effectiveness gives confidence that the majority of times it will catch you that fish. Be mindful about the size of fly and tungsten bead; if you use it to deceive sighted fish, a lighter bead is beneficial in the slower, smoother surfaced waters.

Another grayling succumbs to the charms of the JP pupa
A plump chub, no other fly has caught me such a diverse number of species.
By far the best way to use this pattern is as a team of flies searching faster sections of the river, the technique matters not, be it Czech style, European leader or good old upstream nymphing. Often two JP pupa's occupy the leader, a larger heavier one on the point below a smaller lighter fly on a dropper. As advocated by John Tyzack in the urban fly fishing DVD you can use two different colours to determine which one is best for that day and swap the least effective fly, in productive waters it's not uncommon to catch more than one fish at the same time.

This smashing 18" trout was caught on the JP pupa fished with a french leader.
Not only is the fly simple to fish it is simple to tie.

A selection of pre-tied hooks with a floss under-body.
I perhaps add an unnecessary step but I build up an under-body with floss. This allows me to dub the abdomen tighter meaning the rib doesn't disappear making it more prominent. I often do a batch of hooks with beads and under-bodies ready for when I need to fill gaps in my fly box.

Take a ready prepared grub hook; this is a Tiemco 2487. You can of course start the fly as a blank hook and bead. Tie on the thread - I'm using UTC70 - securely tie down the wire rib. This is 0.20mm coloured copper wire, equivalent to UTC brassie sized wire.

Once the rib is securely tied in, apply the dubbing to the thread - I use Fly-Rite poly dubbing, the colour is no, 25 cream variant.

Because of the floss under-body you won't need so much dubbing to give the right shape.

Wind the rib in evenly spaced turns.

Prepare a brown speckled partridge feather and tie in by the tip.

Wind the partridge hackle where the abdomen ends; you normally only get a couple of turns.

Dub a good quantity of squirrel dubbing - this is fox squirrel but grey will work just as well. Ensure you have a good mix of guard hair and underfur, I pluck the fur straight of the hide.

Wind the dubbing to create a thick thorax and tie off with a whip-finish or a few half-hitches

Once finished give the fly a good rough-up with a piece of velcro or tailor made dubbing brush to give the fly an enticing scruffy look.

This year I caught my biggest wild brown trout of 5lb 6oz, this fish measured approximately 24", and what did I catch it on - a JP pupa of course! No wonder I could survive if I only had one fly.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

2015, the year of the caddis

As a rule I rarely fish into the evening; it's something that needs to change this coming season. I fished late only once last year, it proved to be quite a productive evening, balloon caddis and KlinkhÄmers were the successful flies. I didn't have any proper adult caddis patterns, something that will be rectified this year and I have started to tie some already.

A pattern that has been successful in the past is the G&H sedge, the deer hair body ensures it floats superbly and stays afloat too. There has been a large piece of roe deer laying in my fur drawer, it's intended use has always been G&H sedges - rarely fishing stillwaters means muddler patterns aren't much of a priority at present. If you need any well prepared and reasonably priced deer hair, my friend Mike sells it on eBay, have a look here for deer hair and other patches of fur.

The original pattern calls for a dubbing loop twisted with green seals fur for the under-body, most tiers omit this these days; the ones I have been tying haven't had an under-body, but I may do some with another time.

G&H Sedge
Hook: Partridge Supreme dry sizes 10-16
Thread: 55d GSP
Body: Deer hair
Hackle: Two Coachman brown Hebert Miner cock hackles
Antenna: Hackle stalks
Another fly I have been tying is a pattern I came across on the Flyforums. Kris (hydropysched) revealed this pattern after a good days fishing. Kris used seals fur to give the fly a shaggy thorax and after a combined brainstorm with Mike we modified it by changing the thorax to mouflon. For those of you who haven't heard or come across mouflon before, it's a mountain sheep with hair very similar to deer. I found a vintage hide on eBay that went for a reasonable final price, a fly called Prawu sedge led to the desire of wanting to try this material. You can find the fly here on Hans Weilenmann's excellent website.

Best used sparsely in a dubbing loop, trim and kink the hair strands in your fingers.
Christened the Mouflon Marauder - I'm not sure if Kris ever named it - it will likely be taken for an emerging caddis although I'm sure with some crafty twitching and skating it could make a passable egg-laying female.

Mouflon marauder
Hook: Partridge 15BN Klinkhamer sizes 12-16
Thread: 55d GSP
Body: Fly-Rite poly dubbing no.19 light tan
Wing: Nature's Spirit cow elk back strip
Thorax: Mouflon tied sparsely in a dubbing loop
A close up of the shaggy mouflon thorax
I have used Nature's Spirit cow elk back-strip for the wing, it has thicker walls to the hair so doesn't compress and flare so much giving it a better shaped wing; you can find it here at Funky Fly Tying. As for the mouflon, I don't know where you could find it except eBay, I don't know of any suppliers that sell it, maybe as it is a continental species you might be able to buy some from a European supplier.

The balloon caddis is a fly that until last season never really did anything for me. I managed to catch a number of fish on it, not only in the evening, but during the day, in a variety of water from pockets in between boulders on the River Barle in Exmoor and smooth glides full of slashing, jumping trout. For extra buoyancy and to further enhance its float-ability I use Fish-on ultra dry yarn in cinnamon as an under-wing beneath the elk hair. A chartreuse green butt and brown body, both Fly-Rite poly dubbing complete the abdomen, with a thorax of fox squirrel dubbed thickly under a yellow foam head.

Roman Moser's Balloon caddis variant
Hook: Partridge SLD sizes 12-16
Butt: Chartreuse dubbing
Body: Brown dubbing
Underwing: Cinnamon Fish-On Ultra dry yarn
Wing: Natural elk
Thorax: Squirrel
Head/Thorax cover: Yellow foam 
A product that is new to me, are the very realistic sedge wings from Reel wings. Ever since I first read Steve Thornton's Listen to the River, have I longed to come across decent realistic caddis wings. The ones sold by Virtual nymph weren't great and the Lierfjord caddis wings used by Steve are unobtainable as far as I can tell, I've never been able to find them.

The Reel wing sedge wings look great once they have been coloured; they are made from white plastic, perfect for colouring any shade you want. I'm unsure whether the rigidity of the plastic will affect hook-ups, but they are by no means solid.

Again I have used mouflon for the thorax, trimmed in a way that the top follows the angle of the wing leaving hairs protruding from the side and rear simulating legs. The body is made from CDC feather that are twisted and wrapped around the hook shank, any stray fibers trimmed to form a close, slightly segmented abdomen.

Reel Wings Caddis
Hook: Tiemco 100BL size 10
Thread: 55d GSP
Butt: Troutline Select CDC caddis green
Body: Troutline Select CDC brown
Wing: Reel Wings Caddis wing large
Thorax: Mouflon tied sparsely in a dubbing loop

Friday, 9 January 2015

First fish of the year.

Went for a very brief trip this afternoon having finished work at lunchtime. The wind that howled the previous night had died down somewhat although rain greeted me on my way. I found the river in good nick, with a good volume of water flowing through and a slight tinge. This was certainly a fishing trip as the catching part I found particularly difficult and it wasn't until the end that I finally caught a fish.

I could see the fish holding station in the current, but my position meant I couldn't use the end of the fly nice to signal a take. Casting my team of two flies across the flow I watched as the grayling purposefully moved across the river and intercepted the fly; fish on. A lovely grayling fought sinuously in a strong current and although it would be small by national standards it was average for the river.

It was great to get out and even better not blanking, but the pressure was really on and I seriously thought I wasn't going to catch anything. Hopefully I'll fare better next time.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A catch of caseless caddis.

I haven't been tying much in the last few weeks. When I've found time and the effort to do so, I've been filling my fly boxes with caseless caddis.

Oliver Edwards hydropsyche and rhyacophila patterns are well renowned and I have had reasonable success when using them. The materials to tie the hydropsyche are easy to get hold off, the specified yarn for the rhyacophila is a little harder to track down. If you're not a fussy person you can use any wool or yarn of the right colour to tie them - being mindful that natural fibers darken when wet; I'm more of a fussier tier, I would rather use the specified materials.

A little bit of effort, has seen me source a large quantity of sparkle yarn that is probably equal to the original Oliver Edwards product. I have a small amount of the 1a rhyacophila sparkle and the new stuff is comparable to the original in its make up and the colour seems spot on. I also have a small amount of yarn in another colour; I have used this to make a variation on the hydropsyche using yarn for the body instead of nymph skin.

OE Rhyacophila
Oliver Edwards' Rhyacophila larvae
OE Hydropysche
Oliver Edwards' Hydropsyche larvae
The two combined