Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hydropsyche larva

The Hydropsyche, together with its greenish Caddis cousin Rhyacophila and unrelated but similarily shaped Gammarus is one of the most often cited inspirations for the Czech nymph fly style. This is not entirely unreasoneable.

The pic shown above is of a dead specimen - the living critter is too active to stand still while being photographed with my limited equipment - but its pose is not unnatural. You can see where the C shape of the CZN hooks comes from :)

I have come to conlusion that the right way to imitate in fly fishing is not to slavishly copy each body part of an insect in its static form, but to reflect on its main features and design an impressionistic imitation. This is why I decided not to reproduce such things as gills, head and leggs.

Not to mention that I learned the hard way a most profound truth of nymph fishing: you are going to snag; mabye sooner, maybe later, but you are gonna lose that fly. A dispensable fly is a must. This is what I came up with.

The tie:
#8 Skalka Gammarus hook
a layer of flat lead
tan tying thread
rootbeer colored Sybai shellback
0.16 mm spining line as ribbing
beige rabbit dubbing for abdomen
home made mixture of hare and fox squirrel for thorax / legs
a light touch of black marker to finish

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Baetis nymph

Besides nice memories from meeing my Scottish friends I brough some tangible souvenirs from Kamenice - such as this Baetis nymph.

It is obvious this little nymph has fallen on hard times recently, with two of the tails cut in the middle and one of the gills entirely missing.

But despite the obvious defects it it still makes a nice inspiration for my fly dressing hours.

Cheery October

October is supposed to be the prime Grayling time in the Czech lands. Not so this year. The weather is strangely warm - 20°C in mid October is rather unusual for my country - and extremely low water conditions make for a very difficult fishing situation.

By mid October I headed north from Prague to meet with a couple Scottish friends who came all the way from Edinborough to Železný Brod to fish Kamenice and Jizera rivers.

As a Czech patriot I strongly approve of them choosing the two Czech rivers over their Balkan or Scandinavian competition, though as as fisherman I have to admit that they did not pick the best time for a Grayling trip this year; though I doubt this could be divined ahead.

However, despite the challenging environment they succeeded in catching their fare share and teaching me a thing or two on Grayling tactics.

I especially enjoyed finally meeting face to face with Craigh Mcdonald, a heron of a fisherman I have been in contact with over the Internet for several years but who has eluded me all the time.

While the fishing was made somewhat difficult by the environmental conditions it was not impossible, and I did connect with a few decent fish, such as this nice grayling.

Some Baetis olives were hatching, and the fish did respond to my #18 olive quill imitations.

And to mention a pleasant side effect of the unseasoneably warm weather: the Jizera rainbows, who usually start their winter slumber by now, were still active and eager to attack a dry fly with a savage take.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Olive Quill

This is a fly I have written about before and even before that. But even though I made no changes in the dressing over the last few years I found an excuse for a new blog entry: with a "new" photo equipment - a second hand East German bellows from 1970's and 2.8/50 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens from early 1950's - I felt my new photography improved sufficiently to justify revisiting the subject.

The dressing of the fly is the same as I published a couple years back. In fact, as the fly has served me so well I do my best not to alter the dressing: I feel I have reached the point where any improvement would lead to my loss of confidence in the fly. And as the fisherman's confidence is of paramount importance to the success of a fly I do not wish to tinker with serious stuff and I leave it as it is.

The dressing:
#18 Hanák 103BL dry fly hook
14/0 Sheer thread, grey
pardo Coq de León tails
homemade stripped peacock quill body, dyed Olive
2 tips of CDC feathers as a wing
thorax of dubbing of a hare's back

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Hippurus - Old & New

One of the many aspects of fly fishing that make this sport so dear to me is its long and distinguished history.

Thus I have read with great respect the description by Claudius Ælianus of the curious style of fishing used by rural Macedonians in the area between Thessalonica and Berea, written around AD 200 (not so many years after Messrs. Paul and Silas got chased through the same area, as described in another influential book).

The description Ælian gives for the style used is brief, but easily recognizable as a fly fishing:
They wrap the hook in scarlet wool, and to the wool they attach two feathers that grow beneath a cock's wattles and are the colour of wax. Then they throw their snare, and the fish, attracted and maddened by the colour, comes straight at it, thinking from the pretty sight to gain a dainty mouthful; when, however, it opens its jaws, it is caught by the hook, and enjoys a bitter repast, a captive.
This article I quote from a most interesting site by Dr. Andrew Herd, A Fly Fishing History. Both this site and a more elaborate book by Dr. Herd on the subject are well worth a read.

What I found the most interesting is the resemblance between the ancient Hippurus fly and a modern pattern that has no formal name I know of, but which has worked out for me suprisingly well over the last couple grayling seasons.

Some ancient materials are replaced by modern subsititutes - red wool by red tinsel, and rooster hackle tips by CDC feather - and the whole thing is scaled down to size #18; having said this the overall concept of the fly remains the same. And it continues to appeal greatly to the wily fish with speckled skins...