Waters & words

Posts tagged “dry flies

Mike’s dam

Perceptions, deceptions, and decisions.

Many years ago, PD, Luke and I were returning from fishing this lovely piece of water. We were in high spirits as I remember it. We had caught plenty of small, athletic rainbows on dry flies during the day. As I remember it, it had been sunny and windy, as it often is up there, and if my checkered history in these matters is anything to go by, we probably didn’t allow for the effects of high altitude, and got roasted in the sun. That would have added to the end of day “glow”.  And in that glow, it seemed wise to put Luke at the wheel. Hell, I know he was only 12, but he needed driving practice.

After Luke’s 180 degree spin, those eligible took a swig from the hip flask, and we proceeded, in an ever so slightly subdued state of mind.

Marks (2 of 2)

Marks dam:  October 2002

That was by no means my first visit. My fist visit was as a high school boy. The details are very hazy in my memory, but I remember setting out from the very rustic cottage that nestled in the forest on the northern shore. I remember not having waders, and I remember a lot of time spent in a bog, with the smell of mud and methane. I remember thinking that this was very difficult, and I remember other people catching fish from somewhere off in the mist, where there was allegedly a dam. Marks dam (2 of 2)

When I returned there the other day to poach with Anton, him and I spent a lot of time in the bog again, and some memories came flooding back. The poaching thing was a very well informed decision. Research. Sampling. Just checking the fish growth rates. Important stuff. At some point I lost Anton, and many hours later when he loomed down the road, dripping in the mist, he made some remark about losing the dam. It was my fault. It happens!

We caught fish that day. Just a few, and they were not as fat as we had hoped. They did however take dry flies. Some things don’t change.

Anton (1 of 2)

Petro and I were back there recently. Funny thing:  all the signs on the way in were gone.  I don’t suppose it matters…we know what its called.   I pointed out the spot where Mike had proposed to Tessa just days earlier. Later she pointed out the large Rinkhals, that was between the dog and ourselves. The dog had walked over it, and was now on the other side, intent on coming back, and struggling to understand why the “stay” command was being delivered when he was not at Petro’s side. He cocked his head on one side and looked quizzically at us, while we shouted and threw stones into the veld in front of him.  The snake reared and opened its hood, but didn’t move.  In desperation I suggested that Petro throw stones at the dog, who was advancing one step at a time, while I threw them at the snake. I don’t know if that was a good decision.

The dog got within striking distance of the snake before he saw it but somehow it ended OK. And Tessa and Mike are happily engaged.

Now there’s a good decision!

Marks (1 of 2)


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Stolen flies (4)

Tom Sutcliffe (1 of 1)


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Stolen flies (3)

Peter Briggs Wolf Spider (1 of 1)


Bill Miller’s flies

My Friend Jay Smit recently returned from the States, bearing gifts from his host in Boise, a week or two earlier. 

The ever generous Jay, invited me to put my paws in the cookie jar, and take a look at what I pulled out!…….

Bill Miller (6 of 8)

Bill Miller (1 of 8)Bill Miller (2 of 8)Bill Miller (3 of 8)Bill Miller (4 of 8) Bill Miller (5 of 8)Bill Miller (7 of 8)Bill Miller (8 of 8)

Wow!

Thank you Jay, and thank you Bill!


Reverse flies: Upside down and the other way around.

In April this year, a man by the name of Kenneth Einars posted these pictures on Facebook:

Kenneth Einars (1 of 1)Kenneth Einars (1 of 1)-2

Interesting aren’t they!  And beautifully tied too.

These immediately sparked my interest, because I had recently read Peter Hayes’ excellent book “Fly Fishing outside the box”, where, in chapter 3 he makes a rock solid argument for having your adult dun imitation  facing upstream if there happens to be a downstream wind. Hayes is a deep thinker, and a great writer, and throws old ideas wide open for re-consideration. That’s what he has done with the idea of having your adult mayfly imitation tied on the hook in such a way that you “pull it” from its nose.

Hayes makes a great case for the reverse fly, at least 50% of the time (when the wind is bowing downstream).

But like so much common sense, it is far from common, and a search on the internet for reverse flies turned up lots of women in their gym clothes doing a particular exercise, and very few pictures of flies.

What I did find was reference to a man named Roy Christie, and I then found reference to him in Hayes book too.

Roy Christie is a reverse fly aficionado. In fact he is credited with inventing the reverse parachute fly. See his video on how to tie the Reversed Parachute HERE  or see his blog (albeit dormant now) HERE

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Interestingly, Christie makes a case for the reverse fly partly because it places your tippet, on his emerger (not an adult) pattern BELOW the surface.  Hayes makes a solid case for floating your tippet elsewhere in his book. Yes, I Know, it is controversial, and many of us want the tippet sunk, but that is not the topic here.

Hayes’ book refers to the reverse fly in the context of the dun, but Christie is tying it as an emerger.  This got me thinking about the angle of the tail on a reverse fly, and the angle you might want the fly to float at if you wanted a dry fly, rather than an emerger.  In other words, do you want its butt under the surface, or do you want it up on top, with the tail fibres supporting the flotation?

Which gets me thinking about Kenneth’s flies…the ones I started this piece with. Kenneth Einars confirmed that he intended them to be duns, but he hasn’t tried them yet.

They are superbly tied, but they are “no-hackle” flies, and may need some more flotation, and Christies are emergers, and if they were to be converted to duns somehow, they may need a different angle to get the fly up  on the surface of the water.

The reverse flies I did find on the net all seemed to have their butts in the soup. That is not a bad thing, but I saw a fly tying challenge emerging (excuse the awful pun).

So, first I tied these reverse flies the easy way:

Reverse dry flies (1 of 1)-4

Only afterwards I found that the fly above has already been invented, by none other than Christie, and is called the “Avon Special”, with the hook flipped around as I had done.  I recommend you click on that link above to read all about Roy Christie and the invention of his excellent fly, which is pictured below: 

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The only thing is, the tails may or may not sit on top. The fly is pictured here at the right angle, but look at the angle of the hackle.  To test, I filled a glass of water and tossed my version of the Avon Spinner in there. It floated like a cork, but sure enough, the tails were below the surface.  (I can’t help wondering: a greased leader (as promoted by Hayes) might help keep the bum up. I wonder if an ungreased one , tied to a #18 as pictured here, will sink below the surface on the strength of just the eye of the hook being under the meniscus……)

reverse duns (1 of 2)

I really like this fly as an emerger, and have tied up a bunch, but I have not lost the quest for the high floating dun: the one that floats like a sailboat, and facing upstream when thrown upstream. I did however like the fact that the hook point was hidden up there in the hackle.To get them up there on top though, with tails on the meniscus,  I needed a better angle.

So I tied these:

Reverse dry flies (1 of 1)

Reverse dry flies (1 of 1)-2

I have just tossed these in a glass of water.

reverse duns (2 of 2)

 

Voila!

But as Roy asked me over a bowl of stir fry last night: “Aren’t we over analysing things?”

Hell yes Roy, but it is fun isn’t it!


Ant ideas

a photo essay

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Ant (1 of 1)-8

 

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Ant (1 of 1)-13

 

Ant (1 of 1)

Ant (1 of 1)-10

Ant (1 of 1)-12

 

Ant (1 of 1)-3


Suck it down

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.

Klinkhamer (3 of 5)

 

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.

But.

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’.


It’s still a delight….in any colour

The DDD is old hat here in South Africa.

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(Photo courtesy of Tom Sutcliffe)

I did a quick google search for DDD. First time around I got all sorts of weird stuff, so I added the words “Dry Fly”, and still got no less than 89,000 hits!  That says something, doesn’t it? I will admit that after page three the real DDD gets replaced by tent fly sheets, and obscure digital equipment, but let’s just say you won’t struggle to uncover information about the real thing.

Probably the most comprehensive article about tying and fishing it, is written by none other than its inventor, Tom Sutcliffe. I wont even try to top that!  Take a look here.

In one’s online search, you will find debates about which deer hairs are acceptable, (most notably the wonderful Klipspringer hair vs conventional deer hair). You will find debate on what to use as a hackle, whether to tie it roughly cut, as Tom does, or neatly. You will see discussion on whether to use a deer hair tail, or a hackle tail. There is mention of using some krystal flash in the hackle. And there is talk of colour.

In the colour debate, the primary discussion goes around natural vs yellow. I remember many years ago, getting Hugh Huntley’s help to dye a patch of klipspringer bright yellow, and the fear and trepidation of dunking an entire patch of highly sought-after klipspringer hair into the simmering cauldron. I still have that small patch, and I still tie up a few yellow versions.

But in recent years I have gone off on another tangent with the DDD, and that is the black one. Maybe it has something to do with a sub conscious affection for  the new South Africa and political correctness, I don’t know.

What I do know, is that you wont find a whole lot of information on the black DDD.

I got an unexpected result when I did an image search for the black DDD:

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(more…)


The Adams

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A trusted pattern on our streams and rivers

 

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