DANIE ERASMUS: SMALL NYMPHS FOR HUGE RESULTS
HANGING ON TO MORE STEELHEAD
REECE'S SUBSURFACE SENSATIONS
You don’t want to miss out on Fly Fusion’s summer issue. It’s loaded with cutting-edge fly patterns that will add to your dry-fly success, with thought-provoking strategies on using slack line to your advantage, and with guide tips on how to better read a stream. It’s also got so much more including a special bonus. The editors compiled a list of some of their favourite gear for the “Great Gear Giveaway”. There’s a number of coveted items that made the list including a Water Master. The summer issue is in subscribers’ hands now and is set to hit newsstands the last week of May. If you’d rather not wait to join the Fly Fusion family click here to subscribe.
RIO–The seventh episode of season two of RIO’s “How To” series is “How To Fish The Upstream Dry Fly”, and features RIO ambassador Rob Parkins. In this film Rob explains the advantages of fishing a dry fly upstream, and talks about the correct angles to cast the fly so as to reduce drag and not spook fish. Rob also explains the importance of keeping a tight line when fishing this way, and ends the film by catching a beautiful brown trout.
For a long time, anglers gravitated toward fast action fly rods. As the trend starts to cool off, fly anglers are seeing more slower action fly rods available to them. In this timely article, casting editor, Jeff Wagner, discusses how to get the most out of a slower action rod, and he chats about the often overlooked advantages to casting a slower rod. Click on the image to read the full article.
Fly Fusion caught up with Cortney Boice, Spencer Higa, Derek Olthuis, and Phil Tuttle of In-Tents Media to discuss the award-winning fly-fishing films, growing iconic beards, and catching prehistoric browns. Check out the interview by clicking on the image.
“You might be doing your best to identify the bug the trout are eating, using your magnifying glass to count body segments and checking your phone to find out what the perfect imitation is, but after all that you might not bother to use the right size tippet for the tiny fly that Siri tells you to use.”
The RIO Amateur Fly Fishing Film Awards is in full swing. The field is now reduced to ten finalists, and you get to cast your vote for the 2018 grand prize winner. Voting starts April 30 and closes on May 11, so make sure you click here to preview the finalists and cast your vote for your favourite film.
by Danie Erasmus
Caddisfly larvae are also important small nymphs. Trout feed on caddis larvae if they have a case, spin a net, or are free-living. Most caddisfly species’ larvae also perform a behavioural drift throughout the season, making them an excellent, easily accessible food source for trout. Many larvae also expose themselves when suspending mid-current with a silk thread that is attached to the substrate. Called rappelling, the larvae attach the silk thread to the substrate and then rappel downstream to new habitat.
The American grannom is one of the more important small caddis as it is present in moderately flowing runs where it’s practical to fish small nymphs. These case-building caddis larvae are easily recognized by the four-sided, chimney-shaped cases they build from small twigs. Grannoms cling to the topside of rocks and aquatic plants, and exhibit the rappelling behaviour. It’s quite common to find these larvae, complete with cases, in a trout’s stomach.
Small free-living and net-spinning caddis are also excellent fish food. Imitating predacious free-living caddis is more challenging, as they occupy fast-moving riffles, but since they actively hunt their prey and move around a lot, they are often washed downstream. Poor swimmers, free-living caddis frequently end up drifting long distances downstream. Net-spinning caddis set up their shelters and nets in more moderate current, water suitable for fishing small nymphs. These larvae leave the safety of their shelters to find food, inadvertently exposing themselves to danger.
The overall the shape of caddis larvae permits the addition of a fair amount of weight when tying small imitations. Tungsten beads and lead wire along the shank of the hook are important components of small caddis larvae imitations.
by Danie Erasmus
Mayflies make up a major portion of the small nymphs trout feed on and they become prey in a number of situations. Trout feed opportunistically on struggling nymphs that are swept downstream by fast water. Mayfly nymphs also exhibit a behaviour called dispersal drifts, when they let go of the river bottom en masse and drift downstream to find new habitat. These migrations peak in early morning and early evening, increasing their exposure to trout during those times. Nymphs are also susceptible when emerging, as many species swim to the surface to emerge.
Mayfly nymphs occupy a wide variety of habitats and water-types including riffles, runs, back-eddies and pools. In streams mayfly nymphs have adapted to either cling or crawl among the rocks, or to swim and dart from rock to rock in the fast current.
Clinger and crawler nymphs tend to occupy faster water in riffles and runs. These nymphs are flat, stout and wide so that they can cling to and live among rocks without easily being swept away. Effective fly patterns imitating these nymphs should have the same wide and stout profile, and should be heavily weighted. This shape is convenient for fly tiers as it allows for the inclusion of over-sized beads and lead wire to help these flies sink faster.
Swimming mayfly nymphs, such as those belonging to the Baetidae family, inhabit both fast and slow water. Nymph imitations of these should be slender, which means there isn’t room for a lot of weight to be added. However, you can cheat a bit and use oversized bead-heads with slim bodies, or the very popular Perdigon Nymph. To fish these flies effectively, focus on slower runs.
Even fishing a lake while the ice is receding may require a variety of fly lines, so make sure your kit bag has the essential lines from the very first trip of the season. Floating, hover, intermediate and faster sinking lines in type 3, 5 and 7 will cover any fishing tactic required in your trout lakes. Trout are not normally very leader shy in the early spring as the intense insect hatches have not begun. Carry spools of good quality 3X, 4X and 5X monofilament or fluorocarbon tippet.
Early mornings and the last couple of hours before dark are often very good times to fish lakes during the ice-off period. It takes fish time to get accustomed to the brighter daytime light after spending months in the dark, and thus are often more active in lower light conditions. Plan one of your fishing days to stay for the evening bite. It may become a regular routine during the early fishing season. Again, watch for the signs of moving fish which increase as light levels wane. Use patterns that have some flash or make noise when retrieved through the water. Palmer-hackled patterns like Woolly Buggers, bead-head leeches, bead-head scuds, and rubber-legged boatman and backswimmers are all good choices. Fan-cast each area that you fish. There may be a small group of fish concentrated over a tiny piece of real estate that aren’t willing to wander too far in search of food. If there is no action or interest after 15 to 20 minutes, move on to another part of the shoal or another part of the lake.
Think outside the box regarding early season fly-patterns. The water is cold and there are minimal if any aquatic insect emergences. Trout will aggressively chase flies that are suggestive of such basic food items as scuds, leeches, dragonflies, damselflies, water boatman and backswimmers. Don’t be afraid to cast and quick-strip flies on intermediate to even type-5 full-sinking lines in water three-to six-feet deep. Attractor patterns such as Blobs, Boobies and Fabs can also work well at ice off, perhaps because fish often feed on readily available zooplankton which are often found in large clusters or concentrations. These brightly coloured patterns definitely work when fish are feeding on daphnia or cyclops, both common zooplanktons. Suspending orange or pink Blobs under an indicator can be an effective early season tactic.