'Go to' flies revealed - Part two
So we have talked about what I look for in a fly pattern and my ideas on effective trout flies – quality, not quantity. Versatility, and the ease of tying: If a fly takes more than a couple of minutes to tie, it’s easier for me to buy them.
Lets take a look at some of the patterns I use, my go to flies and see how simple, yet effective they are on our South Island trout.
The Glister Nymph
Hook – Light wire for unweighted ties, heavy nymph for tungsten.
Body – Brown Glister dubbing
Tail – a couple of fibres from a brown, fine bristled paintbrush
Rib – Copper wire.
This little beastie does me proud. It’s a 2-minute tie, which has deceived some pretty wary fish for me over the past few seasons. Tied simply to represent the small and dark prey image of the majority of aquatic invertebrate, the glister nymph has been my number one fish catcher by far since its introduction to my fly box.
I feel the success of this pattern is due to its material. Glister sparkle dub provides a generally buggy fibre, sporting just enough flash to stand out in a crowd, yet not too ‘in your face’ to create suspicion.
At any one time there may be up to a dozen or more potential food items within a trouts foraging area. Given that you have worked hard, and have finally achieved the correct depth and presentation for the fish at hand, your fly then becomes just one of the many potential choices the trout has – just because your fly is there, doesn’t mean the fish will eat it.
So how do we make our fly stand out from the crowd, catch the trout’s eye without raising suspicion? Subtle Bling, and I feel that Glister provides this perfectly.
As with any nymph, the Glister should be carried in a variety of weights, from unweighted through to those employing 2 tungsten beads. You will be amazed in some waters, even with long leaders and slack line presentations just how close to the surface your weighted nymph can be, far from the trouts feeding zone.
No legs, no wing case, no added sugar: The Glister nymph is more durable than the pheasant tail, more appealing than the H&C, and takes less than a few minutes to tie!
The Wee emerger
Hook – Kamisan B110 or Tiemco 100 size 14 - 18
Abdomen / thorax – Dark natural hares fur
Wing – Natural CDC or fine deer hair. Snowshoe creates a nicer fly in the smaller sizes
Deer Hair or CDC: I have written much about the attributes of both over the past few seasons, as my preferences zig zag between one or the other. Both have benefits over the other, and both have their downfalls, so now I resort to keeping a number of each in my box.
The key attributes of the emergers I use are the slim, flush floating profile and submerged abdomen. Forget the image of the fully hatched dun, and think more along the lines of the floating nymph: Small, sparse, and barely poking through the surface.
It is surprising how little dubbing is required to create a presentable body, and I feel that many of the emerger patterns used are too heavily dressed. A sparse, dark hares fur body is my preferred dressing for emerger patterns, and I feel the generally messy, spiky appearance of this material suggests movement superior to those of pheasant tail, or synthetic floss type design. A sparse wing of either deer hair, or cul de canard is applied near the head of the fly, ensuring enough space if left behind the eye for a sparse, but spiky thorax to be tied, to suggest the ‘head and shoulders’ of the nymph struggling through the meniscus. Deer hair seems more buoyant in riffly waters whereas I believe the soft halo-like silhouette of CDC comes into its own on the slower flats of the Mataura, and a quick application of dry shake and a couple of false casts will ensure your CDC pattern floats just as well as a hair wing.
I tie my emerger on both straight, and curved style hooks. Light wire ensures the fly holds for longer at the surface, and as long as the wing material is tied forward over the eye on straight shank hooks, I find there isn’t really a difference in performance between the two styles. A curved grubber hook may appear a little more aesthetically pleasing to the tiers eye, but after all, tis the trout who is the ultimate judge.
I fish the wee emerger in most surface feeding situations, wether lowland, backcountry, aquatic hatches or terrestrial, and It is small, sparse, and wont seem out of place at any time on our southern rivers: Emergers can pop off at any time of day, so their appearance, if presented well will not raise suspicion.
A deadly fly and my number one go to pattern.
The Glister Streamer.
Hook – Anything long and strong, sizes 2 – 8
Bead – Big and heavy, but I do like the general appearance of tungsten cones.
Body / Thorax / Head – Brown Glister dubbing
Back / Tail – Natural coloured rabbit strip, whipped down with copper wire and tied mid way down the fly.
A basic fly and easy to tie, this fly changes each time I sit at the vice.
What began as a simple bead, dubbing and marabou pattern has been superseded in the search for durability. Rabbit strips are durable, offer exceptional movement to any fly, and are easily sourced.
Of recent I have begun tying the zonker strip further back from the head, allowing a bulkier, more substantial thorax to be built up, offering the suggestion of a broad, solid head like that of most small fish.
I use streamers a lot. In fact, I actively search out big streamer opportunities. Theres nothing like seeing a big fish react to a streamer, galvanising into action, and feeling the electric hit of the take. I can fish them either visual or blind, dead drift or on the swing, actively stripped or subtly twitched. There is no set way in which to fish them, simply get them out there towards the fish and roll with the punches!
I don’t use a specialist terrestrial pattern, instead finding the versatile Umpqua Blowfly to more than suit most situations. With a clipped hackle it presents a flush floating footprint, representative of beetles, hoppers, cicada, and most larger, bulkier surface goodies. It represents food items trout can expect to see at any time throughout the season, and which do not raise suspicion. If a larger pattern is required for say, mid summer or to really catch that trophy trouts eye, then Clark’s Cicada tied with a longer wing fits the essential triggers I feel are required for terrestrial munching fish.
However, when the fish are spooky come mid summer, high angler pressure and low waters, I often resort to the good old emerger, in the knowledge that most rods travelling upstream will be rigged with a larger terrestrial pattern of sorts: I like to mix it up and give the fish something they haven’t recently been bombarded with, and more often than not, accompanied with poor presentation.
To be honest, there aren’t too many other flies I would use across the season. A spent spinner here, a larger caddis there, and maybe a few soft hackles if the situation called for a team to be fished just below the surface, along with whatever Mr Tripney sucks me into buying (Heres a plug for the “Luv Bug”!). My mantra is to settle on a good general nymph pattern, a solid emerger, a streamer and a general attractor dry and learn to present them well. If a fish rejects one of these flies it isn’t because of the pattern – they all represent the prey image of the food on which trout feed, it is more likely to be due to ineffective presentation.
Why change from a hare and copper to a pheasant tail, or a humpy to a wulff – they represent the same thing – work those presentations, look at your angles and success will come.
Feel free to email me your feedback upon trying these 5-minute patterns; I look forward to hearing your experiences.
Copyright © 2009 Chris Dore. All rights reserved.