There is no doubt in my mind that fly tying is an absorbing pastime, stimulating creative juices and anticipation that sooner or later you will stumble upon a little gem with all the right counterfeit fur and feather attributes to fool the most difficult of fish. Not perfect imitations of the natural insect, aquatic or terrestrial, but with distinguishing features that give the appearance of a living bug at one or other stage of its life-cycle. For this I cannot over emphasise the importance of keen observation and knowing what these little bugs do during these stages and how they behave.
Talking to kindred spirit, Ian Cox, a few days ago we chatted about the merits of flies that imitate emerging insects. Although it is always stimulating to have a discussion where there are divergences of opinion, this was one where we agreed without any disagreement – emerging insects and our flies that imitate that vulnerable part of their life-cycle, should form a large part of our fly tying focus. It is a stage where learnt from familiarity, the fish knows that the insect is easy prey. When the nymphs develop the urge to grow-up and leave their nursery in the bottom structure of the stream, they have to ‘run’ the gauntlet of drifting to the surface and at the same time being carried along on the currents in full view of mostly hungry fish. And, they don’t go quietly, well not literally ‘quietly’, but kicking for all their worth, visible and if they do make it to the surface there is that dreaded film of tension at the surface like being attached to a bungee cord all the while trying to also escape from their crusty old exoskeleton, which sometimes hangs attached for precious seconds, off their abdomen. Only when they have made it through this sticky situation can they properly unfold their fragile new wings and fly off to relative safety; birds and other ravenous predators permitting of course, but that stage doesn’t concern us as flyfishers much.
Long story short, tie some emergers and fish them just below or in the surface film. I have for a number of years had considerable success with what I call my “Berg Emerger”. If I can offer some advice for fishing emergers, add a little weight at the tail end of the abdomen (I use a few turns of copper or gold wire), don’t apply floatant to the abdomen and like a surface dry fly degrease 40 cm or so of the tippet up from the hook eye to get it below the surface. The important aspect is to get the abdomen below the surface while the purposefully tied messy thorax representing the opening shuck, legs, feelers and emerging wings sits flush on or in the surface film.
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