Monday, 30 December 2013

A salvaged day

The promise of a full days fishing was unfulfilled. Yet another weather front blew over the country and despite me checking the river levels, which were good, it was a little too coloured. Not wanting to waste the hours drive I forged ahead and gave it a go.

I tried an area that gave me several grayling last time but apart from one missed fish, which it suspect was a trout, I failed to catch anything. Other previously productive areas were tried without success. I'd been soaked by the rain and blown apart by the wind, I was beaten.

The hour drive home gave me time to contemplate. I had no motivation to tie flies for the remainder of the afternoon. I wasn't due to collect my daughter until four o'clock. Arriving back home at two gave me a couple of hours and given the weather I had already put up with, I felt I may as well try something else my end.

Living in the Fens I am surrounded by many drains, big and small. The stocks of predators aren't what they used to be but I knew a very small drain that I hoped would get over looked. It's a little walk just out of town and I have caught pike there before.

Armed with my spinning rod and soft rubber lures I started at the end of the drain where the pump house is. Most of he smaller land drains have pumps to take the excess water out and pump it into the main drain systems.

A little way up I had a couple of knocks, as the lure reached the bank I could see a posse of perch attacking. I was using a 13cm Savage Gear soft 4play that  was much too big for these perch. A delve into lure my bag produced a much smaller 8.5cm version supplied with a SSG weighted jig head. I had around twenty minutes of fun watching the shoal of perch attacking my lure, as a bonus I even caught three of them. They were probably barely half a pound but he lighten my day up no end.

I missed a very small pike as I was toying with the perch, probably struggled to make 12" but again being able to watch the strike made up for the miss.

I reverted back to the original lure and made further progress along the drain. I caught a pike, again this was a small one, but I didn't care I was catching something. I hooked and lost another pike fished for a further twenty minutes without any more hits and that was my time up.

I can't complain, four fish in less than a couple of hours on a day I had written off.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Jingle all the way

Well Jinglers all the way actually. Like so many other people, I can only tie so many heavy bugs, bead heads and nymphs in general. I long for Spring and the new season, dreaming of floatilers of smartly attired upwings. To carry me along the winter months I tie up many dry flies that help me fantasise of the mild days ahead.

There appear to be two forms of the Jingler, one with a dubbed body imitating the march brown and another sporting a stripped quill body to represent the large dark olive. Living in the proverbial South I have no March Browns, that doesn't mean I can't use a Jingler, I just have to adjust it to suit my needs. I came across the Jingler via Matt Eastham's North country Angler blog on a post here and here.

It is a wispy fly, gangly almost. The hackle is long and sparse with a partridge collar. Peacock quill provides the body and the tail is cock hackle fibres the same colour as the hackle. I have used Nature's Spirit dyed peacock eyes, much cheaper than pre-stripped quills and I don't find them difficult to prepare; I either use a rubber eraser or I pull the quill between my finger and nail. You can find Nature's Spirit quills at Funky Fly tying here.

So for me the most useful versions of the Jingler would be a danica mayfly along with variations to emulate different species of olives. I have also tied up the original Jingler as this will also serve me well.

On the original Jingler the hackle and tail is red game, the body natural peacock quill with a grey partridge hackle finishing the fly off.

My mayfly variant is tied with a red game tail; a coachman brown tail would be much better, owing to the dark tails of the natural. I have used a bleached and dyed light Cahill quill for the abdomen. The yellow grizzle hackle and natural grey partridge should give a good impression of the wings and legs.

I have tied a much smaller fly as a general olive imitation. Olive dyed quill, with medium grey dun hackle and tail and a yellow dyed partridge hackle should give this fly a chance of working.

Although not a Jingler but a fly of similar design the Spring Olive spider dry by Davie McPhail is another fly worth looking at. This fly has a long hen hackle wound through the main hackle which is of standard length. You can see Davie tie the fly here.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Adams Humpy

I have been accumulating some new products from Nature's Spirit. They have a very good range of deer, elk and moose hairs, one that has caught my attention is Humpy Deer, the one I have is dyed medium dun.

The blurb says "Long, fairly fine hair with nice tips. Just the right textures and length for tying high floating humpies. This hair also spins well for collars and heads."

The patch is dyed well and the colour even and to be honest it is what the tin says. You can find the Humpy Deer at Funky fly tying.

I am determined to catch at least one trout on a Humpy next season.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Last session.

I've been rather busy these last few weeks. The house purchase is rolling along smoothly, and I have been working overtime where I can fit it in, just to make things easier. I still have a pretty horrendous credit card bill to pay. My own fault really, too eager to tie some of these up and ooo, they look good I'll have to get the materials to tie them too. Ahh but what the heck, it'll all last me for years.

This morning there was no overtime available and as I didn't start work until half one this afternoon I'd have been foolish to not use the opportunity to get a few hours fishing in. And in all honesty this would probably be my last session this year.

I have been tying a few heavy bead head bugs and such for grayling and I was determined they would get a swim of some sort.
Sturdy's fancy bead head
Pink baetis nymph
Pink brassie
The river was painfully low and clear. I could see the fish shoaled up and they were very spooky, added to this, was the winter league coarse fishing match that takes place every Wednesday. Not much I could do but fish around them. Thankfully it turned out they had left alone many of the areas I wanted to fish.

I started in a slow pool of moderate depth, I knew it held silverfish and with some persistence, I winkled out two dace on a size 16 biot bodied bead head nymph.

Utah Killer bug
Next swim was below a weir. I fished a short line with a Utah Killer bug and JP caddis pupa and after some time I caught my first and biggest grayling. The UKB proving too irresistible. No other fish came out of that pool so I moved on. Another weir only produced an OOS brown trout.

Red tag variant bead head
The last area I tried was another weir that is much deeper than the majority on this stretch I fish. I have had more grayling from this pool than anywhere else. I changed the JP caddis for a red tag variant bead head as it has a bigger tungsten bead, first cast at the tail provided another grayling of around eight inches. I fished on catching another two grayling of similar size and two more OOS trout one of which was a lovely fish around  twelve inches.

Further down the pool from where I was fishing there were a pair of trout cleaning a size-able patch of gravel. I saw several redds throughout the morning which bodes well for the future. That future does look bleak though after having a conversation with one of the matchmen, he told me that last week a foreign national was trying to sell two carrier bags full of trout to one of the butchers in town. I only hope it wasn't true but I have no reason to disbelieve him.

Male trout lying over the redd

Friday, 6 December 2013

This week I have mostly been tying...(part 3)

My first OE Heptagenid nymph in four years
No idea why it has taken so long, but I finally bought some heavy nylon. Its use as the head post is an integral part of Oliver Edwards Heptagenid nymph; it helps to build the wide head profile. I've had everything else for a long time. The only other thing I bought for this fly was a new marker pen, to colour the ostrich herl for the gills. I bought a Kurecolor marker number 140 mellow Yellow; it's not too glaring, just the right shade of yellow. One of the rivers I fish does contain at least one stoneclinger species. Having seen Yellow May Duns on the wing I can with certainty tie the heptagenid nymph to imitate these.

I have not tied one of these nymphs in nearly four years. This along with the OE baetis nymph are staples for early season upstream nymphing. I've caught a lot of fish on this pattern; the weight helps put it in the prime area, near the bottom of the river. I guess it would catch 70% of the trout compared to the baetis. I morn the loss of Spanflex in the smaller sizes, the small and extra small made perfect legs for size 14 and 16 nymphs.

Peter Hayes' Muskrax
I have also rediscovered a tying technique used in one of Peter Hayes flies, the muskrax. When I gave up fly fishing and fly tying I rather foolishly threw away all of my old magazine clippings that I had collected over the years. I couldn't quite figure out, if what I was thinking about the body of the muskrax was right. I had in my head that the body was formed from silk soaked in liquid wax. I asked on the fly forums and nobody seemed to know and others couldn't find the said magazine article that revealed the fly. I was left stumped. This year I managed purchase nine whole years worth of FF&FT for a pretty decent price. I think it worked out at just over a pound per magazine; crazy some might say, in fact the other half couldn't believe I'd wasted all that money on some "poxy magazines". But to me they were priceless, all the old articles and flies I knew plus a couple of extra years worth that I'd not read. So I hunted through and found the article on the muskrax and I was right, the body was silk and liquid wax.

Finally I could tie the muskrax properly and promptly knocked a few up. The fly is similar to the PhD; the wing is mallard flank, it is tied forward of the hackle but still split into a V. The hackle is fully wound around the shank but the micro fibbet butts are brought underneath the thorax and split the hackle giving the impression of it being clipped. Peter's reason for this is to form a breast plate, making the bottom of thorax smooth like on dun. Another positive off shoot from this is that the fly sits up in water, the split hackle and tail keeps the abdomen off the water.

I liked the effect that the wax body provided. I decided to combine the muskrax and PhD. I used the liquid wax body and forward split wing from the muskrax, (the PhDs wing is split by the hackle, the mallard wing intermingling with the hackle fibres), with the paraloop technique from the PhD. I tied two versions but with only one difference between them; the yellow silk drawn through cobblers wax to give a darker colour. One fly being a pleasant dark olive colour the other a paler yellow olive.

As a rule I would tie the darker olive fly with a darker dun hackle and colour the wing with a grey marker. This in size 16 would be a great imitation for the large dark olive. Tie the yellow version with a lighter dun hackle and leave the wing natural, sizes 18-20 will suit the spurwings and pale wateries.
Yellow Pearsalls silk coloured with cobblers wax

If you feel like tying some of the liquid wax bodied flies up just be aware that it doesn't dry hard, after it has soaked in it will feel slightly tacky but it won't come off or leave a residue on your fingers. Tie the flies first then apply small amounts of the liquid wax using a dubbing needle. Don't put too much on otherwise it can soak in to the wing and hackle resulting in clogged up fibers.
Yellow Pearsalls silk left natural with liquid wax

I've also been tying some bead head nymphs with stripped peacock quill.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Classic grayling flies: The dries.

What better to do than tie up on these dull days, some flies sporting bright woolen tags for tails. Everyone loves the classic grayling dry flies, when I can get a day on the river I'll be giving these a go.
Red tag

Treacle Parkin

Sturdy's Fancy

Grayling Witch