No. 11 – Fishing Tips

November 23, 2015 | Paul Procter

What’s more important in fly-fishing circles: a close copy imitation that’s dished up any old how, or a scruffy looking representation presented exactly like the natural?

Rainbow Trout - River Wye

Dressed slender on a longshank hook, this hare’s ear pattern (left) is more than adequate when it comes to copying large stonefly nymphs. That said, many anglers would instantly be drawn to the more lifelike replica on the right!

When it comes to river fishing, I’m definitely of the “presentation” rather than “exact imitation” school of thought.  Firstly, fish often have a mere split second to decide whether an object is potential food or not.  Here, a primary trigger is how items (including our flies) move. Presented dead drift so they conform to surrounding currents, fish will readily move to imitations whether they possess three or a dozen tailing fibres! To that end, more suggestive dressings presented correctly are bound to win fish over rather than exact imitations boasting six legs, a pair of matching eyes or any other appendages that are fished willy-nilly.

Furthermore, general dressings often pass off as many different food items. A close copy or exact imitation that suggests a single insect, or worse still, a certain stage of a fly’s life cycle, will only narrow our odds. Take North Country Spiders for example.  Few would refute their effectiveness.  Yet, what exactly do a few wraps of thread and turn of hackle represent?  Well, depending on how you fish them, patterns like the humble Waterhen Bloa or Snipe & Purple might pass as a nymph, emerging dun, or even a drowned adult of upwinged flies. 

The same can be said of a Hare’s Ear type fly, which could trade as an upwinged nymph, shrimp, cased caddis, or even a large stonefly nymph, depending on hook size and shape, of course. Again, much hinges on how you fish this, or more precisely, its “presentation.” To this end, think about the popular Czech Nymph patterns, generic dressings that trade loosely on caddis larvae, pupae and/or shrimps. Again, their success depends on how you present them, usually dead drift, close to the streambed, where trout and grayling expect to find such tidbits. 

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