Burnley managed to scrape a draw at home to Watford on Saturday evening but being realistic my team are bound for the Championship next season. We had a good run in the Premiership I guess but I worry about our financial position and how we are going to rebuild an aging team. Being a Clarets fan has never been an easy business but it feels a bit bleak right now. I needed to distract myself so I tied up a few flies and dreamed of spring on the loughs.
The glaring gap in my trout box is mayflies. Oh there are a few in there but truth be told they are a little thin on the ground so that was where I started. I tie up a simple spent fly for fishing dry or ‘damp’ and it has proved to be a useful little chap. Giving a few away last year meant that now there are none left in the box for myself! The hook is a size 10 in either long shank or normal length. Black tying silk is started at the eye and I catch in a badger and a blue dun, both cock hackles of long fibre. As I run the tying silk towards the bend I tie in some tails made of moose main hair, a piece of black flexfloss and a bit of plumbers PTFE tape. Once I reach the bend I take the silk back up to the point where the hackles are tied in. Now wind a body with the PTFE tape and rib it with the black flexfloss in the usual manner. Now grab both hackle points in your hackle pliers and make 4 or 5 turns, then tie off the hackles and remove the waste. Now trim the hackle fibres from below the hook so the fly will sit in the surface film when fishing. Form a head and whip finish. Very simple as I say but an effective pattern when the spent are on the water.
Some CDC winged mays were up next. I use different shades to match the hatch but the basic shape of these flies remains the same. Tails are moose main, body is fur ribbed with oval tinsel of thin floss. I pair two large CDC feathers and position them over the back of the fly. The hackle, tied in front of the wings, is either a single grizzle cock or two different coloured grizzled cock hackles wound through each other. Sometimes I add a few legs too just for the hell of it. Yellow, golden olive, pale olive and green are all colours that have caught me trout over the years on this style of fly.
I wanted a Sooty Bumble to go with that one I currently use which has the blue guinea fowl at the head. Some days a more sombre pattern is called for so I put this one together in jig time. A size 10 wet fly hook and black silk are required. Tie in a French Partridge feather which has been dyed sooty olive by the tip and a crimson cock hackle by the butt. Now catch in a black cock hackle and run the silk to past the bend where you tie in a small tag of Globrite no.4 floss. A tail is fashioned from a golden pheasant topping. The body is sooty olive seal’s fur ribbed with fine oval silver tinsel. Make the body from the dubbed fur then wind the black cock hackle down over the body in open turns, tying it in with the oval silver and counter winding the tinsel back through the body hackle to the neck of the hook where it is tied in and the waste removed. Wind three turns of the red hackle then 3 or 4 turns of the dyed partridge hackle in front. Form a head, whip finish and then varnish the head.
I finished off with a couple of Bibio variants. Tie the normal fly but add a medium blue hen hackle at the head to make a deadly sea trout pattern. This works in all sizes but a very small one on a size 14 can be oddly effective.
It is February already and I need to get my act together! A black wind howls outside the window as I tie, the garden is bare and appears lifeless as the elements rage and thunder. Soon though the milder weather will start to influence the natural world and the plants and small creatures will stir as the annual cycle turns towards growth. Paddy’s Day can be glimpsed on the horizon, my time for starting the fishing season. More flies are required to fill the boxes, new ones and old favourites, so I can choose with confidence as the birds sing and trout rise under the strengthening sun of an Irish spring.