It really is a terrible thing to have problems that keep you up at night.
Just last week I sat down to tie up a few halo hackle, Klinkhamer style things with grizzly hackle. No I don’t have a name for them. This whole halo hackle concept is a wonderfully South African idea bank, that has been brewing for a while, with several variants around. I seldom tie a batch of flies the same as the last, and each time I fiddle with the pattern, so don’t ask me to name them. Suffice it to say they have a cute orange thing on top to aid my eyesight, a bum that trails in the water to wiggle at the trout, and a grizzly hackle PLUS a sparsely wound coq de leon halo hackle that keeps them on top.
I don’t know how others do their halo hackles, but for mine, I strip one side off a coq de leon spade, and then wind it twice. I sometimes trim a few fibres, if they end up too close to their neighbours.
I like this halo thing, in that it gives the flies a huge footprint for flotation, with just a few fibres, and it looks buggy.
* a note: I say “Huge footprint for flotation” because coq de leoon hackles don’t come small. This is unfortunate in some ways, because their fibres are just so damned brilliant that if I could get them small enough I would use them on every fly. And that would quickly eat through the great big cape I got last year. Coq de leon fibres have zero fluff on them, and are as springy and shiny as a that radio aerial that one of my varsity lecturers used as a pointer.
So I like this halo thing. It’s local. It’s lekker.
There is always a “but”. Trout suck surface flies down to eat them. I was reminded of this a while back when reading “Fly-fishing outside the box”. It is a brilliant book. Get it.
So, the trout has to suck my halo hackle fly down through the meniscus and get it into its mouth. It occurs to me that on account of those halo fibres, this may just be like trying to suck raw butternut through a hole in the side of the calabash. Just as an over-tied DDD, or one on a hook that has a narrow gape, I am at risk of seeing my fly enveloped in a glorious splash, but without a connection to the fish. That worries me just a little. I have been wide awake for hours now.
But it doesn’t worry me too much, because British anglers have been big on daddy longlegs patterns for years, and they too have those broad splayed legs. Also, would the tippet not tether the fly in the meniscus more than the hackle could ever do? The other thing is the evidence. Maybe I am lucky, but I don’t seem to have a hooking problem with these flies. I don’t connect every time admittedly, but I don’t think they are problematic. They are catching lots of small trout up at Riverside at the moment. I must get up there and fish these flies to set my mind at ease.
Perhaps if I just keep tying the halo hackle sparse enough, all will be good. Since a sparse halo hackle is what looks buggy, this works better anyway, right?.
OK. I feel better now. I think I will go back to sleep.
Thanks for listening.
Afterthought: look out on the tab on this blog called “ Topical subjects, Ideas and links”. I will soon be posting a set of links there all about the halo-hackle concept. For a close up of the flies above, look at the fly gallery under ‘dry flies & emergers’.