There was a comment made to me the other day, something like, “I guess you are a Halford supporter?” There is some truth in that, but despite having an affinity for fishing dry flies, there is also truth in the fact that I acknowledge that it is not the only way, unlike Halford’s blinkered view. In other words I accept what Skues and later Sawyer had to say about a varied approach using both dry fly and sub-surface imitations appropriate for the trout’s feeding behavior.
Seeing I have opened the discussion let me also admit that I do have a preference for the dry fly not just for the fishing, but for what I believe is the true art of fly tying, the creativity and the beauty. There is a rich diversity in dry flies that takes some beating and looking back at those I have waxed lyrical about in the past as ‘my favourites’, I notice how my thoughts have changed from season to season. It tells me one thing in our conditions that it is not so much about matching the hatch, but having a fly that is a reasonable representation of one or other bug found in our streams – to quote an old and frequently used expression, ‘something buggy’. Trout are opportunistic predators that will be attracted by any dry fly that triggers a response based on familiarity and recognition, and fooled by creatively constructed imitations displaying physical characteristics the likes of – profile, legs, wings, colour and movement – on the last point, movement is life.
There are a few flies that tick all these boxes; they are what I like to call the ‘wide flies’. I have had a strong leaning towards these in the last few seasons – the ‘RAB’ and its variation known by my band of trout bums that get lost with me in mountain wilderness a couple of times each season, the ‘Lammergeyer RAB’. Then my ‘Wolf Spider’, a simplified version of the wonderful original pattern by Leonard Flemming. And, thirdly a ‘Para-RAB’ originally designed by Philip Meyer, and which I have fiddled with as I’m inclined to do, and tweaked to my liking. And, for good measure another that has produced results on the tiny upland mountain streams, my ‘Crane Fly’ imitation. These are good flies not only when the trout are feeding off the surface, but as searching patterns when the fish are displaying symptoms of lockjaw as they are inclined to do from time to time – it’s just part of their enigma.
I think it is worth mentioning that wide flies do need a little extra care and by this I mean, storage. I don’t know of any conventional fly box that has dry fly compartments adequate enough to accommodate these without scrunching them up and having legs trapped and kinked in the lid. I have an old tin from a shopping trip to Farlows in London that serves the purpose perfectly.
Most of these flies are as wispy and light as thistledown so I have learnt not to sneeze with the tin open or open it in a breeze. More than once I have had to get down on my knees to search for them in the grass or watch them drift away downstream out of reach, others have taken off and just disappeared. While I’m about it, I also treat each fly with Watershed as it comes off the vice and then allow them to dry on a windowsill in the sun so that they are ready to go without having to worry about applying floatant at the river. Oh yes, use hooks with a wide gape for these flies.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2015. All rights reserved.