Photograph by Steve Barnett

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Less than a week to go...

A pleasant walk with Henry yesterday had us lingering upstream of Black Barn.  There were a few fish rising as there was a sparse hatch of Large Dark Olives coming off.  It looked so good even though the trees are yet bare that a snap was in order so I made an attempt at a hand-held series of snaps to join up into one. 

Here it is.


To see it properly you need to click on it...

In this country, not every pool above a weir is as productive as this one proves to be, year after year.  Can you see what the angler's main concern has to be on here?  Clue: It's one of those three principles...

Regular Rod

Friday, 23 March 2012

Iron Blue Dun...

This is a remarkable little fly.  It appears rarely.  At least it appears rarely nowadays compared to the days before abstraction, pollution and dredging.  Nevertheless, it is still around and a mighty important little fly this is to the dry fly fisher when it turns up.  Woe betide you if it puts in an appearance when you are not in possession of a suitable fake!  Why?  The trout will soon show you why.  They love these tiny flies and eat them with extreme alacrity.  Your faithful correspondent has seen them appear during the Drake and the fish immediately eschewed the big mayflies and made all haste to eat as many of the Iron Blue Duns as they could get to before the brief hatch was over.  The hatch can last as long as an hour but is often of shorter duration and they put in an appearance at any time of the year.

It is best imitated on a size 18 or even a 20 hook depending on how the hook makers interpret their sizes.

Here is one way of making an attempt at a fake of the Iron Blue Dun (IBD) that was hinted at in the previous post.  It differs from the traditional anatomy of herl bodied, hackled, dry flies in that it uses the spare end of tying thread as the rib.  Again it is quick and easy to tie.

With the hook in the vice, run on a bed of yellow tying thread leaving two or three inches of "waste" end.  Do not cut this off.  This will be your rib later on.

Tie in a tail of a few Dark Blue Dun cock hackle fibres.

Tie in two herls from a primary wing feather of a Canada goose.

Run the thread back to the front of where the body will be, making a bed of thread as you further tie in the tail and the two herls.

Wind the herls to make the body and tie them in. Cut off the waste ends of the herls.

Rib the body with the "waste" end of the tying thread by winding three open ribbing turns in the opposite direction from the way you wound the herls to make the body.  Tie in the ribbing thread and cut off the actual waste end.

Tie in a Dark Blue Dun cock hackle like this with the concave (duller) side facing you. Finish up with the thread at the front of the body and leave it dangling.

Wind the hackle three or four turns is enough back to the thread and tie it in winding the thread quickly through the hackle fibres to avoid catching too many of them and squashing your hackle into a clump.  Tweak off the hackle tip.  Make a whip finish and varnish the head, using the hackle point out of your hackle pliers to pull through and clear the varnish from the eye whilst it is still wet.

The finished Iron Blue Dun. 

Make sure you have a few with you whenever you visit a water where they may live.

Regular Rod

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A Traditional Anatomy...

The Pheasant Tail dry fly is another I would hate to be without.  It is a simple fly but amazingly versatile and you have already seen one like it when we did the Kite's Imperial. 

Fish it, as it is shewn here, when the olives are drifting down in the sunshine and it is surprisingly effective.  Maybe the gold rib helps? 

Dress it with different coloured herls and hackles and you can have a match for just about any upwinged fly.  For instance substitute the cock pheasant tail herls for those from a hen pheasant and you have instantly made a more olive coloured fly.  Use turkey herls (the long ones not the biots) in cream, with a badger hackle and you have another fake for the Pale Watery. 

The hackle variations can be from plain natural red, through ginger, to honey and then all the variations of honey dun, rusty dun, brassy dun, blue dun and so on. 

The anatomy is a very old one and so good that, years ago, I stopped tying Kite's Imperials with the humped thorax and turned to this traditional formula, but with the materials for the Kite's Imperial and relying on the list in the centre of the hackle to imply a thorax when it is wound into the chimney sweep's brush shape so familiar to us all.  With orange, rusty or red body, you can even use it as a Spinner fake by cutting off the hackle underneath to get it to lay flat on the surface.  Not as effective as the PPS but a good standby if all your real spinner patterns are no longer available to you that evening...

Here's the recipe:
Run on a bed of thread like this.  Here I've used orange but it could easily be any other colour.
Tie in a bunch of cock hackle fibres for a tail a little longer than the hook shank.  This is a bunch of Honey Dun.
Next bite off a length of fine gold coloured wire and tie it in under the hook shank with a couple or so turns of thread.  Adjust the waste end by gently pulling it through the turns of thread until the end is level with where the front of the body is going to be. 
Tie in two herls from a cock pheasant centre tail feather with the waste ends also under the hook shank and aligned as per the ribbing wire.
Tie the whole lot down with tight touching turns of the thread to make an underbody finishing at the front of where the body will be.
Wind the two herls forward to make the body and tie the waste ends in and trim off any excess.
In open ribbing turns, wind the wire rib in the opposite direction from the way you wound the herls up to where the thread is dangling.  Tie in the waste end of the wire and rock it to and fro until it fatigues and breaks off.  DO NOT CUT IT OFF.  The little hook on the end of the wire created by the rocking helps to anchor the rib securely and make the fly last longer.  Make a bed of thread to tie the hackle onto.  (This got rid of that annoying loose fibre in the previous stage above)
Tie in the hackle, this is Honey Dun, with the concave side facing you.  Use the tying-in turns to make a bed on which to wind the hackle.  Leave the thread dangling at the front of the body.
Wind the hackle back to meet the front of the body and catch it in with the thread and then quickly wind the thread through the hackle to behind the eye.  Break off the waste hackle tip that is still clamped in your hackle pliers.  Put down the pliers with the hackle tip still inside the jaws.  Make a whip finish.  Varnish the head.  Take the hackle tip out of the pliers and use it to pull through the eye of the hook to clear it whilst the varnish is still wet.
The Pheasant Tail in its standard form.
Here's an example made with primrose thread, Pale Blue Dun cock hackle and a couple of dyed green herls of turkey feather.  Quite an effective Olive Upright methinks. 
The possible varieties are endless.  With this anatomy, you can use any herl, any hackle, any rib to suit your flies on your waters. 
How about deep yellow thread, Dark Blue Dun hackle and tail, a body of Canada goose wing primary, ribbed with the yellow thread (just leave the waste end of thread dangling after the first stage of tying in the thread and running it down the body to make the bed then use it as the rib) and all on a size 18 hook, for an Iron Blue Dun? 
What suggestions do you have?

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Knock, knock knocking on Heaven's door...

Actually knocking on my front door.  One of the advantages of living on the river is that I get visitors who are always welcome.  They arrive, take a rest, change their clothes and then fly away.  These tiny things make me a very happy man.  I hope they survive the human race...

Female Spinner of the Large Dark Olive Baetis rhodani on my front door.  She has left her old clothes in the top right of the picture.

Regular Rod

Friday, 9 March 2012

Just in time...

...a good time, methinks!

A wander along the bank with a good friend was a pleasant interlude this morning.  My friend, Henry, was delighted that I was sticking close to the riverside.  As it meant he had more items of interest to examine than he would have had if all we had done was stroll up the meadow in a bee-line to the gate on our way home.

A singleton Lesser Celandine forecast that there would be at least four hours of sunshine and no rain. 

Henry was puzzled that we didn't seem to be doing much.  He doesn't understand reconnaissance in the way I do it.

Then I saw something that was not beautiful - a BAT TRAP

Here was the potentially disastrous result of my first attempts to get rid of the trap.  I had to wander off and find another branch of flotsam that might reach a bit better.

At last the blessed thing was dragged ashore, coiled up and put in a bag in my pocket for safe disposal once I got home.

1 - Why couldn't the "grayling" angler retrieve the flies and monofilament at the time?

2 - Why "grayling" fish a run that only ever holds trout?

3 - If the bats had come out of hibernation before it was removed there would have been a dead bat dangling there.

4 - Keep it up and I can imagine the head keeper closing the river at the end of the trout season instead of the concession we now enjoy to fish on until January 7th for grayling.

Anyway, on reflection it was a good time to go for a look round the river with a friend and I have to admit to a "feel good factor" after removing the hazard.  Henry had a good time too.

Regular Rod