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Deep in my heart
Ways to cope with the lack of streams in a flat European country
Deep in my heart, I prefer stream flyfishing for trout. However, Holland has precious few trout class streams, and next to none fishable trout, so most of my local flyfishing is for warmwater species. In fact all of my stream trout fishing happens abroad, mainly in the States, as well as in Belgium and Denmark.
Three different flies
The main quarry
At home, the main quarry is rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) and pike (Esox lucius). But every now and then I give in to temptation and go trout fishing on one of the small stillwater trout venues that have sprung up in Holland over the past few years, modelled after the many small stillwaters in the UK. Since this style of fishing hasn't been highlighted on 'Global Fly Fisher' yet, I will present here some flies that are specifically effective on trout stillwater fisheries. I'll focus (for now) on dry flies, since I prefer fishing dries to, preferably, rising fish. The flies presented here are chosen because they represent effective flies for different periods of the stillwater season.
In late spring, these waters generally see hatches of small to medium sized caddis (sedges), that can at times be very prolific. I've experienced early morning sessions where the small sedges were literally clouding the air over the water. During April and May therefore caddis imitations are indispensible, and one of the best patterns for that is Hans Weilenmann's CDC and Elk, the pattern of which can be found elsewhere on these pages. Tie them in sizes 14 to 20 and fish them to rising fish, or induce takes by slowly and erratically retrieving them across the surface.
CDC Suspender Buzzer for summer fishing
During the summer, say the second half of June through the end of August, the water will have warmed considerably. Fish are now mainly active during the early morning and late evening hours, and the most prolific insect life on most of these artifical fisheries are the buzzers, or chironomid midges. I have had tremendous success under these circumstances using so-called suspender buzzers, which imitate the midge pupa hanging from the surface with its breather tubes at the air-water interface. The original suspender buzzer incorporates a synthetic flotation device (be it a ball of ethafoam/plastazote, a bubble wrap bubble, or something else) at the hookeye end of the pattern, but I prefer to use a CDC loop to suspend my pupa from the surface, hence the CDC suspender buzzer (see pattern).
Clumsy insect - elegant fly. Deer Hair Daddy.
Top and bottom view of the Deer Hair Daddy
In the autumn, there usually are large numbers of daddy-long-legs around. Since these are generally clumsy fliers, many of them end up trapped on or in the water's surface, where the trout know to find 'em. To imitate these trapped or drowned crane-flies I use a pattern that does not incorporate a hackle of any sorts and therefore floats low in the surface. This is the deer hair daddy (see pattern).
The hook and the flattened body
Finally I will present a pike fly (lure) that is halfway between a true fishing fly and a show pattern: the deer hair wiggle bug. The concept itself yields a surface bug that will dive and wiggle when retrieved, not unlike a plug or jerkbait, but the actual fly shown here is tied for looks as well as for simple effectiveness. The pattern was originally inspired by the American foam wiggle bugs that work like a charm for pike, but are a little too synthetic and lure-like to my taste, and the bass plug flies as seen on the Virtual Fly Shop. Note that the fly as shown is tied on a short shank Gamakatsu stinger type hook. While it looks awesome that way as a show fly, it is much more effective as a pike catcher with a 'normal' wide gape pike hook size 3/0 or larger (See Pattern).
The wiggle bug with its characteristic head
|Hook||TMC 2487 #12-22, here #18|
|Thread||Sparton 8/0, bright red|
|Abdomen||Clear mono, 0.15 mm (5X)|
|Thorax||Bright red or claret seals fur, or substitute, here angora goat|
|Eyes||Loop of two CDC feathers over hook eye. Colour chosen for visibility, here white.|
- Place hook in vice, so that most of the bend is accessible. Attach the tying thread to the hook and bring way down into the bend. Take a length of mono, crimp with pliers about .5 inch from one end. Tie in just beyond the crimped area and wrap tying thread all the way to where the thorax will start (about halfway down shank). Cut the trapped end of the mono under 45 degrees and cover. Wrap the free end of the mono forward in touching turns to where the thorax will start, crimp and tie off with thread. Clip excess.
- Bring the thread to the eye. Choose two well-sized (i.e. rather large) CDC feathers and place them on top of each other (same curvature). Align the tips and tie in behind the eye, with tips pointing backwards, and butts extending beyond eye. Stroke the barbules towards the tips, make a loop with the butts, bringing them back over the shank (the loop should be about 2/3 to 1/1 time the size of the hook) and secure. Clip the butts.
- Dub the seals fur or sub onto the thread and make a nice 'buggy' thorax between the mono abdomen and the CDC loop just beind the eye. Whip finish just behind the loop (three turns will suffice - use no cement).
- Fish as a dry, static to cruising fish. Use a patch of Amadou to occasionally dry the CDC loop.
|Hook:||TMC 900BL, #14|
|Abdomen:||Deer hair extended body|
|Thorax:||Grey hare's ear dubbing, with guard hairs|
|Wingcase:||Actually thorax cover: deer hair butts from abdomen|
|Legs:||Knotted moose mane hairs|
|Wings:||Two feathers from a dull grey-brown cheap indian cape, or a hen cape|
- Attach your tying thread to the hook shank and bring it backwards, to a point opposite the hook point (not barb!) or even closer to the eye. Remember, all of the hook length before this point will become the thorax of the fly.
- Clip out a thin bunch (about the width of a matchstick) of good quality long deer hair (about the size you'd use for a size 1/0 bass bug, or about 1.5 to 2 inches). Comb out all underfur and short hairs.
- If necessary even the butts (!) in a stacker, and tie in on top of the hook, with the points to the rear and the butts extending 2-3 hookeye widths beyond the eye.
- Make 3-4 wraps 'in-place' and start creating the detached abdomen: spiral the thread in open, not too tight turns around the clump of deer hair backwards for about 3/4 of an inch (or slightly longer). At the end make 3 wraps over each other and spiral the thread back (same number of turns!) to the tie-in point.
- Clip the points, just behind the end wraps, and soak a drop of head cement into the apex of the abdomen.
- This whole procedure of making an extended body requires some practice. Initially it might help to use a gallows or extended body tool to hold the hair by the tips so you have two hands free to wrap the body, but I prefer to use just my hands.
- Bring the thread in front of the hair butts, lay the butts back over the abdomen and lock them with a few wraps directly over the abdomen tie-in wraps.
- Prepare the legs (you could also do this before starting the fly...). Take 6 moose mane hairs, 4 long ones and 2 slightly horter ones. Tie an overhand knot in all of them (moisten hair, make a loop, use a pair of tweezers to bring the end through the loop, tighten partially by pulling, then completely by stroking from butt to tip; you'll invariably break a couple every now and then...).
- Take a pinch of hare's ear dubbing, dub it onto the tying thread and make 3-4 wraps in front of the deer hair butts. Tie in 2 legs, one on either side of the hook, tips trailing to the rear. Dub another pinch of hare's ear and make a few more wraps. Tie in next two legs. Dub a pinch and make a few more wraps (the overall shape of the thorax should be an ellipsoid considerably wider than the abdomen).
- Tie in the wings. They should be about the same length as the abdomen, concave side up and slanting 45 degrees backwards (unless you specifically want to imitate a species that lays its wings over its abdomen). If you tie them in just before the dubbed part, you can use thread wraps to force the wings against the dubbed part so that they have the right angle. Dub more fur onto the thread and make some more wraps. Tie in last 2 legs; you can either make them trail backwards (dead daddy) or have them point to the front (fly still alive ;-) ). Dub more fur onto thread and finish the thorax. If needed tweak legs and wings into position.
- Bring the deer hair butts to the front, over the thorax (align them well), and make 2-3 wraps over the butts to lock them into place. Lift up 1/3 of the butts and make a wrap between these and the remaining butts. Lift up second 1/3 and make another wrap. Lift up remaining butts and make a 3-4 wrap whip finish between the butts and the eye. Clip off butts in the Al Troth EHC style. Cement the head. Go catch some autumn stillwater trout :-)
|Hook:||VMC short shank 6/0. Alternatives: TMC 96P 6/0, Partridge Ad Swier Pike hook 5/0|
|Thread:||Danvilles Flat Waxed Nylon|
|Tail:||Some holographic tinsel strands and 2 grizzly and 2 furnace hackles from a grade 2 or 3 cape (nice and narrow)|
|Body:||Spun deer hair, various colours|
|Collar:||Collar at the end of the fly (tail tie-in point); bucktail or deer hair, stacked and spun|
- Attach tying thread on the rear of the shank, over the barb of the hook, and make two or three layers of 8 wraps, locking the tag end of the thread with everey layer. Coat with head cement and let dry.
- Tie in a clump of holographic tinsel strands, preferably doubled. Clip to length (about 1.5 times hook shank). Tie in the hackle feathers, two on each side. They should all curve outward. The inner two (grizzly) should extend about 1.5 shank lengths, the outer two (furnace) between 1 and 1.5 shank length. Clip the feather butts, and completely cover the tie-in point with tying thread and coat with head cement (BTW, use nail polish for head cement, it's a lot cheaper, expecially if you regularly tie pike flies, and use a lot of the stuff).
- Make a collar of deer hair or, preferably bucktail. Bucktail is more durable/harder, and it generally is available in a larger selection of colours. But in order for it to spin properly, you need to use ONLY the hair from the base of the tail. There's about an inch (lenghtwise) worth of usable, spinnable hair on a normal bucktail. Clip out a large clump, stack it (there's no need to comb, since the tail has (almost) no underfur), clip the butt ends short, stack again (now the tips will be fairly even), and tie in and spin. Clip the butts short. I prefer a 'hot' colour for this part of the fly, but you need to make certain that the bucktail you choose (preferably when still in the shop...) will be suitable for spinning.
- Spin about three more clumps of the same (colour) bucktail base hair, now with the tips clipped off. Spin about 4 clumps of deer hair (here whitetail belly hair; natural white). Fill the rest of the hook shank with natural tan deer hair, spun. Now comes the difficult part in a textual description of a deer hair bug: the shaping. The only good way to explain this is having a picture of the finished bug to go with it. It should sort of look like a wiggle bug on steroids. Most of the shaping is done with razor blades; normally I'd recommend single edge razors, but here, because of the shape of the head, the more flexible double edge razors are more useful.
- The bottom of the fly is flat and heavily angled from about 2 cm 'deep' at the eye to about 5 mm deep at the tail. The sides are tapered similarly but are curved, as is the top (you can bend the razor achieve this cylindrical shape more easily. The top of the fly is humped, with a 'normal' taper from the back to the collar, and a very flat, long taper from the eye to halfway the body length. Then the sides of the 'face' are shaped so that the completed face represents a sort of wiggle surface. The whole deer hair body, but especially the front half, is liberally treated with nail polish, to make the diving face more durable.