Winter is upon us and between sessions in pursuit of grayling, this is the time to replenish your fly boxes. Tying dry flies whilst the cold, wet windy weather hammers on the window allows you to day dream of warm Summer evenings. However, prolonged spells of warm weather can be very challenging for the fly fisher. Often upwings (Ephemeroptera) and Caddis (Trichoptera) reduce in numbers when compared with the spring. More so, the fish can become very picky. When fish are 'smutting' and apparently rising to nothing, often they are locked on to terrestrial insects. Aphids, ants, beetles... the list of insects that find their way from their leafy homes and on and into the surface is long.
Here I offer a tutorial for a pattern that I have come to rely on throughout the warmer months and even later in the year. My thanks to Paul Procter for introducing me to this devastatingly effective pattern.
Perhaps it's the obvious, solid outline or the way it 'plops' onto the surface. Maybe it's the fact it sits deep in the surface, but fish will really move to intercept this pattern. Cast into foam lines and under the over-hanging branches, fish relish this superb little fly.
What makes it even better? It is very simple to tie. No need for fancy foam cutters - I cut a simple wedge of foam. Try a variety of colours ~ I like black, grey and yellow. A sighter tag on the top of the fly helps you to locate it very easily on the water - something which is very helpful when foam gathers in the current seams. Carrying versions with a variety of colours can help in different light conditions.
Hook: Partridge SLD #18 - #12
Thread: Sheer 14/0
Dubbing: peacock herl or coloured dubbing
Wing Case: Foam
Sighter Tag: TMC Aero-wing or Funky Fibre
Instructions for tying:
1) Catch in the thread behind the eye
2) Tie in the foam wedge along the shank of the hook
3) Dub the thread and form a neat body. Peacock herl can also be used - twisting it around the thread gives better durability.
4) Pull the foam forward and secure with two wraps of thread. I like to increase the tension to really bite down into the foam.
5) Tie in a sighter tag - different colours can be useful for different light conditions
6) Dub the thread again and wrap in front and behind the sighter tag.
7) Whip finish behind the eye and trim the sighter tag to length.
8) Heck the tag is sitting upright and in line with the hook shank. The fly is finished.
The foam will float well, but I also like to add a little floatant to the tag. Periodically whilst fishing, just give the foam a squeeze to ensure any water is removed. As for leaders, I like to use a 9' tapered leader with at least 3' of tippet. But don't fish too light - 4X or 5X will help turn a size 12 over and also cushion the savage takes you may experience. Smaller sizes are teamed with a 6X leader.