Photograph by Steve Barnett

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Easy 400 year old solution to 2,000 year old problem!

Now the Evening Shadows Closing is happening before the spinners have got even halfway through their return to the water, we need to fish on into the night.  The problem is, as it has been since the time of the Macedonians, how to see the fly?

Facing West
 Last night, facing west, the rises were easy to watch but the PPS was virtually invisible and many fish were being missed.  Something had to be done and done quick as it was getting darker by the minute.  A gamble was made.  Change the fly to something that will show up in silhouette on the silver reflection of the western sky.  So Charles Cotton came to the rescue with his Black Fly as described in the fifth edition of the Complete Angler of 1674...

Yes the fly looks nothing like a spinner.  Yes the rises were not as confident to this black confection as they usually are to the PPS.  Nevertheless, some were prepared to eat it and the rewards were all the more satisfying. 

"You've let another escape again Dad!"

Anglers have struggled with the lack of visibility since the dawn of our ancient Sport.  Here was an easy way they surely must have overcome the problem.  It's one in the eye for one of my favourite maxims though...

"Match the Hatch!"

Regular Rod


  1. Rod
    This is why I enjoy reading fly fishing blogs, and with post I just learn something new--thanks for sharing

  2. I just got through reading another blog where they had the same problem, so I knew the answer before I finished reading. I'd like to say I'm smart, but I just read a lot. Another timely post Rod, thanks!

  3. I have tied Louis Noble's (T&S) spinner pattern but in black to take up your suggestion. I have used the daughter's pony's mane(dark bay) to make the body. I hope to try these out this week as we should have some "soft evenings". I hope it works !

    1. That's an interesting experiment. Maybe the cruciform silhouette will make your fly more effective than my old Charles Cotton Black Fly was? The main objective with black dry flies at night is to have a fly on the water that YOU can see. Don't worry about the fish. They see everything on the surface after all it is their dinner plate.