Here's how to tie the popular Barnes' Mayfly Emerger fly pattern in only a few easy to follow steps...
It's a deadly pattern that is best used through the months of May and June, depending upon the temperature and the main hatch.
By following the eight steps below you'll soon have a perfect emerger pattern that is sure to catch plenty of trout...
Hook: Size 10 Kamasan B810
Tail: Brown marabou
Rib: Clear Nymph Glass
Body and thorax: Cream or white marabou
plus a few strands of brown marabou
Thorax cover: Tan foam
Wing: Yellow Poly Yarn
1. Fix hook in the vice and run the thread down to the bend. Catch in a small tuft of brown marabou plus a length of clear Nymph Glass.
2. Take a pinch of cream marabou plus two or three strands of marabou. Place them together and catch in by their tips. Secure with tying thread.
3. Wind the thread to the point where the hook shank curves down. Gently twist the marabou then wind it along the shank in close turns.
4. Secure the loose ends of the marabou with tying thread then wind the clear Nymph Glass over the body in evenly-spaced turns.
5. Secure the loose end of the Nymph Glass with thread and remove the excess. Next, catch in a short length of yellow Poly Yarn.
6. Secure Poly Yarn, winding turns of thread around the base to form a wing post. Cut a thin strip of foam down the middle and secure at the wing.
7. Take another pinch of cream and brown marabou. Catch it in at the same point as the foam, then wind up to the eye to form the thorax.
8. Draw the foam forward so one thin strip sits either side of the wing. Secure at the eye and cast off with a whip-finish. Trim foam to length.
HERE’S one part of the season I look forward to more than most and that’s the cream of the buzzer fishing.
Although buzzer hatches occur all year if conditions are right, it is April, May and early June when they are most prolific. During winter, buzzers are much smaller and mostly black. In late April and May they can be almost dragonfly-like as buzzers over an inch appear in the thousands.
SIGNS AND OMENS
En route to the fishery look for telltale signs of a buzzer hatch. One of the most mysterious is the clouds of buzzers rising like smoke from the bushes. They swarm and sway in the lightest of breezes above treetops and hedges.
The other and often best indication is to watch the migratory swifts and swallows. When fishing up the top of Rutland Water’s south arm, arguably one of the best and vastest buzzer fishing areas in the country, the swifts and swallows tell me when and where the hatch is happening. The birds majestically cover the skies, often hundreds of feet up, then within minutes they glide inches above the surface at incredible speeds and turning like high-speed bikes on a double chicane. The hatch has started…
But buzzer hatches don’t happen all over the lake. You can spit them out your mouth up Rutland’s South Arm and at the same time count them on one hand in parts of Rutland’s basin. This is because they need a soft, shallow bed to lay their eggs and, while the South Arm offers this, the basin is mostly too deep and has a rocky or clay bed.
The birds are feeding on the hatched and hatching buzzers – the last stage of a perilous journey through the water. It is the journey through the water layers that we are interested in. How do we best imitate this important food source?
As buzzers can make up 90 per cent of the trout’s natural diet, there’s no more important method to perfect than this – and it truly is the most exciting method to fish. There’s such stimulation at your finger tips as the line tends to slowly tighten sometimes taking you off-guard - and it tempts quality grown-on fish.
SIZE AND COLOUR
So once you arrive at your chosen venue how do you know what colour, weight and size of buzzer to use?
First, take a look in the margins where you will often find the remnants of the evening before’s hatch. Look for the buzzer ‘shucks’ which are the cases from which they emerge. This tells you the size of the pupae currently hatching in the lake. You need to see the adults to spot the possible colours.
SPOON YOUR FISH
Spooning fish will give you the latest food item on the menu and more often than not the buzzer pupae will still be wriggling. Look for the coloured cheeks or possible blood stained abdomens. Imitate these with a Crisp Packet or a Red Butt Buzzer to increase your catch rate. Not only are you imitating the natural, but the crisp packet and red butt give the trout that ‘target zone’ they often find irresistible.
Size is not as critical as the colour - and I tend to offer a larger mouthful to appeal to their greedy nature. Be careful, though, because if the buzzers are very small, for example a size 14 or 16 and you try a grub hook size 8 then they are likely to ignore it. Stock fish may readily snap it up, but buzzer fishing tends to catch the smarter, grown-on fish.
FISH THE CORRECT DEPTH
Being a competition angler, none of my buzzers are artificially weighted but simply tied on various hooks with differing amounts of varnish to get the weights I need. This is because depth is critical.
The buzzers start their precarious life in the lakebed and slowly ascend to the surface before reaching maturity. The fish follow the hatch through the layers.
I’ve often caught fish on heavy buzzers only to take them on adult dry fly imitations an hour or so later. It’s vital to change the depth of the flies as the hatch progresses.
In late April and early May, when the larger waters are still cold, I start with four heavy buzzers. These are tied on size 8 or 10 heavy wire grub hooks or a Kamasan B175 size 10 or equivalent. They are varnished with three layers to give the natural gloss of the pupae and the weight.
The depth you fish your buzzers at will be controlled by the weight of your flies. If it is early season and water temperatures are low, try using heavy wire hook buzzers coated with varnish. Their slim profile ensures they sink fast.
This also applies in hot summers. As the fish follow the hatch nearer the surface, change the dropper flies to lighter patterns.
If I don’t use lighter wire buzzers I use my Cruncher or a new pattern, my gold rib Diawl Bach.
Keeping the heavy buzzer on the point helps angle the flies through the various layers with the heavy fly acting as an anchor. You now catch fish on the droppers up the leader and can almost predict the movement of the fish as they take the point fly, then your middle dropper then your top dropper fly as they rise in the water.
Once you catch two or three on the top dropper, remove the heavy buzzer off the point. This can be a wasted sacrificial fly as it is fishing too deep, whereas a change to a lighter pattern will keep all three or four flies in the fish zone.
On Rutland and Grafham the grown-on fish tend to feed below the fresher stock fish. This was obvious last year when fishing with a client up the top of Rutland’s south arm. He fished a bung and caught all stock fish on his dropper 3ft down and caught all overwintered fish between 3 and 4lb on a dropper 10ft down. This happens time and time again.
Adjusting your leader length controls the depth you are fishing. When fishing a leader shorter than 15ft, your flies will not sink as deep as someone fishing a 20ft leader.
If you find long leaders hard to handle just fish a heavier fly on the point. Many competitors fish the same flies as me and I even give them my flies but they fail to catch at the same rate as the leader lengths are different. Next time you see someone catching well, don’t just look at the flies but look at the leader length too as this can make a massive difference to the depths you are fishing at.
I’m often puzzled why anglers throw a long line when buzzer fishing, especially from a boat. It can sometimes be needed when fishing from the bank but not when afloat. I catch fish on the drop just after casting out. If you are casting to the horizon you could miss the take. Short lining of no more than 15-18 yards gives you more control.
Grease up the last two or three feet of fly line with Mucilin and watch this as an indicator. You can’t do this at 25-30 yards but rest assured you will see more takes before you feel them.
Buzzers are best fished with a crosswind and allowed to drift round naturally. So when bank fishing choose a crosswind or when boat fishing cast across the wind.
One of my favourite buzzer methods is to give them a slow pull - then pause for 8-10 seconds - then repeat. This allows the flies to ascend and descend just like the naturals. It gives fantastic coverage of the depths and is one of my most effective methods, especially in water over 8-10 feet.
Don’t retrieve too fast. Even a steady figure-of-eight is too fast. Just keep your line tight and if your floating line is causing ripples on the surface, you are fishing too fast.
Many anglers associate this with just lure fishing - but it’s deadly with the buzzer. The slow lift of the rod and pause imitates the natural perfectly as it wriggles its way to the surface, then pauses for a rest.
Very slowly lift your rod and pause much longer than you would with the lures. Keep the line tight and watch for it moving – fish are hooked in the roof of the mouth.
The hang method can be fished several times throughout the retrieve and not just at the end.
During your retrieve simply lift the rod and hold it there and do this several times throughout the retrieve for extra bonus fish.
STRAIGHT OR GRUB HOOK?
I use both. Watch the naturals on their ascent, when they wriggle they are very much curved, but when they pause or descend back down the layers they are dead straight.
This is why my pull and pause technique is so deadly with my set up of two grub hook and two straight hook buzzers.
Maran Kingfisher captain Fred Bainbridge unleashes his team’s deadly new bloodwormbased pattern on the Elinor trout
A SHEET of low clouds, driven along by a stiff westerly wind, threatens rain. Northamptonshire’s Elinor Trout Fishery does not look particularly inviting this breezy grey November morning but to the locals who visit the water week after week, it’s the action under the water that counts.
This autumn Elinor has never fished better. Weeks of warm winds have kept the water temperature around a fish-happy 10 degrees and the trout feeding. Flies have been hatching later than anyone can remember and even dries have been working, particularly the Daddy.
Because so many fish are released at Elinor, the residents are no pushover. They’ve seen every fly that swims. And on some days, each trout comes to a different pattern. But there’s one fly they are unlikely to have seen before... the spidery-legged, bead-bodied bloodworm-based pattern on the end of Fred Bainbridge’s leader.
Fast-talking Fred, and his two Maran Kingfisher team mates Peter Appleby and Chris Micallef, love fishing Elinor, despite the 300-mile round trip down the A1 from their North-East homes. For the past two years the three-man squad has dominated the water’s Airflo/ CEFF National Stillwater Final, winning the event comfortably both as a team and as individuals.
And although they have a number of “secret” flies still under wraps in their armoury, they claim it’s the Yellow Worm, and its colour variations, that gives the team that real competitive edge on small stillwaters.
A development of the original scarlet Apps’ Bloodworm, the new version uses tiny sewing beads on the body to create a more fishalluring profile underwater. But it’s those waving Flexi-Floss legs that the trout can’t seem to resist, particularly in clear water.
“We’ve developed versions in three colours,” explains Fred.
“We’ve found that the Pink Worm really sorts out the freshly-stocked fish. The Olive Worm works on resident fish, while the Yellow Worm is a great all-rounder.
“A great deal of time and innovation by Pete, Chris and myself has gone into creating these patterns. Their pulsating movement in the water is the key to success.
“The construction of the fly is a careful balance between the beads and the legs, which must be tied with perfectly-straight Flexi-Floss.
This makes the fly ideal for fishing with an intermediate line. And because the beads are more or less weightless, they allow moderately good turnover when casting.
“Although the pattern will catch fish all year, this fly is particularly deadly in winter on small stillwaters when the water is clear. We’ve found that the amber colour works as a trigger point. Expect savage takes.”
TO DEMONSTRATE the fly’s fish-attracting qualities, Fred has returned to Elinor to refish the swims that brought him second individual place in the Airflo National Stillwater Final. His first choice is the corner of the dam close to a bank of willows where a deep hole attracts stockies and resident trout alike.
This is a swim that produced well for him in the Final when other anglers were struggling. But today a stiff head wind is blowing into this corner, so Fred is forced to shorten his leader from his usual 22ft down to 16ft to cope with the breeze.
“As a general rule, the further you can cast the Worm the better,” explains Fred. “Fish will often follow the fly for some distance before taking. Many of the takes will come halfway back. In a competition situation, I’d use two worms of different colours to see which one the trout preferred.”
The odd fish is moving well out in the wave but even with the Loomis GLX-Distance rod, Fred is struggling to show them the deadly Worm. The southerly bank with a helpful side wind looks more inviting. So we move.
Elinor is renowned for its crystalclear water which today has a tinge of suspended colour created by wading anglers. Fred wades out to where the water becomes clearer and punches out the yellow version of the Flexi-Floss-legged fly.
Believing the fish to be lying slightly deeper in the morning, Fred starts with his favourite Greys “depth finder” line with a medium sink rate of 2.5-3.5in per second. This is a line that can be fished slow or fast to work the fly at various depths.
In the heavy wave, we can see nothing moving. But Fred is convinced that there are fish lying deeper and counts the Worm down to sink through the water levels.
Fred likes to mix up his retrieves from a straight pull through to a fast figure-of-eight with little jerks in between. He keeps the tip of his rod low to watch for the slightest sign of a take.
How will the Worm perform?
After just three casts, Fred has hooked his first trout. But it proves to be a triploid brown trout. Fred’s face shows his disappointment. He’s convinced that the rainbows are out there.
An awkward weed bed in front of Fred means he can’t let the fly go as deep as he would like. And with no line tray to keep the sinking line out of the water, he can’t push the flies out as far as normal. But the next cast sees the line tighten and a silver rainbow clear the water.
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” he smiles as he steers the trout into the net. As Elinor is a catch and release water, Fred has pressed the barb down on the hook and is able to remove the fly with ease without touching the fish.
“To thread the beads on the hook you have to press down the barb anyway,” says Fred.
TO GET the Worm’s legs pulsing in the water, the right retrieve is vital. “One day long pulls will be working. On another day, short jerks will be more effective. It’s up to the angler to experiment,” says Fred.
Today it seems to be long pulls with substantial pauses in between, to induce a take from an interested fish. But it’s important to keep checking the fly to make sure that all the legs are working. After taking a few fish, those legs can start to tangle.
Fred senses that the rainbows are starting to respond and ups his game, fishing the water in front of him like a machine. Two more rainbows follow on consecutive casts. The fly is working its magic.
Elsewhere along the bank, other anglers are catching spasmodically.
Although the odd rainbow is now starting to show in the wave, tempting them is proving difficult. But Fred is on a roll and rainbow follows rainbow to the net.
After just a couple of hours’ fishing, Fred is into double-figures - despite losing a few on the way.
Now the rainbows are starting to rise higher in the water, sometimes bow-waving behind the fly, so Fred switches to a slower-sinking intermediate line. “The way the fly moves in the water makes them angry,” laughs Fred. “That’s why the takes can be so fierce.”
The next trout to the net is a sleek fully-finned resident trout around 3lb, the type of fish for which Elinor is rightly famous. Again, it can’t resist the pulsations of the Yellow Worm.
“Any reader who is fishing a Troutmasters qualifier this winter needs this fly in their box,” stresses Fred. “It’s just that good, particularly when the water is clear and cold.”
The strong wind has made line control difficult during the day. Fred admits that he would like to have fished his flies slower and picked out more takes on the drop.
Moving fish seem to indicate that the rainbows are no deeper than six inches from the surface. “They don’t want the fly static or pulled fast, just somewhere in between,” says Fred.
Trout are now rising almost under the rod tip, a novelty for Fred whose previous trips to Elinor have been solely for matches or practise when the trout are pushed well out.
So for light relief, we challenge Fred to catch a fish on a dry.
On goes a size 8 Black and Green Hopper — the fly he used to win the Yorkshire Boat Championship on Stocks Reservoir — and before long a rainbow trout has sucked it down.
“Cracking place is this,” grins Fred as he releases his final trout of the morning before retiring to the lodge for a well-earned cuppa. He’s taken 16 trout on the Yellow Worm in a blitz attack on the water.
Fred’s rapid-fire success with the trout has attracted the attention of other anglers, who are curious to see the fly that is so seductive.
Burton Latimer angler John Bosworth’s remark when shown the novel pattern is a typical reaction - “what the hell is that?”
John reveals that he has not had a touch all morning, so he has more than a passing interest in a fly that can attract so many fish.
Fortunately, Fred is happy to share the secrets of the Yellow Worm with his fellow anglers.
ON the far side of the fishery, Fred’s flyfishing mentor “Big” John Sutton has located a shoal of trout moving up and down the weedbed in a shallow bay.
The stiff westerly wind would make this spot difficult for a conventional right-handed caster, but John has had to teach himself to cast left handed after a horrific industrial accident seriously damaged his right arm.
Starting off with a Zorro lure suspended a couple of feet under an indicator did not produce the expected results for John, but the Olive Worm fished on a floater once again proves irresistible to more than a dozen trout.
Captain of the Titan Loch- Style team, it was John who first encouraged Fred to take up competition fishing. He now works tirelessly to encourage as many young anglers as possible to take up flyfishing.
Keen to try the Worm in as many swims as the wind allows, Fred heads for the boat dock area where he quickly takes another fish. It’s then two more trout from the dam as the light fades.
By now the wind has finally dropped away to nothing and Fred slows the retrieve right down to match the mood of the fish. In the Small Water Final, Fred took a double-figure fish. And he’s still hoping for something similar today.
Then right on dusk in shallow water, he hooks a fish on the Yellow Worm that bolts away for the middle. But sadly it comes adrift.
But Fred is sanguine. He’s enjoyed a tremendous day’s sport and demonstrated just how deadly the Yellow Worm can be.
Starting off and finishing
You might have just tied your best ever fly but if you can’t finish it off properly it isn’t going to stay in one piece for very long. Almost as important is the ability to start a fly correctly. This means catching in the thread then laying down a solid base of thread-turns that will support all the other materials.
It might seem a bit of a waste of time, when there is the prospect of tying your first fly, but it’s a good idea to spend a while practising both of these techniques. That way you ensure your finished fly will stand up to the rigours of casting and, hopefully, being taken by a fish.
ONE of the trickiest techniques for the novice is that initial running on of the thread along the hook shank. It’s just one of those funny little processes that, once learnt, need never be thought about again. You just need to get it right in the first place for, without it, starting off a new fly pattern can be a real headache.
So, in order to show exactly what’s going on, in the following step-by-step sequence I have used a much thicker thread than normal.
1. Fix the hook securely in the vice and hold the thread so the loose end is above the shank and the bobbin holder end is below it.
2. Raise the bobbin holder so that the thread now forms a V-shape close to the eye of the hook.
3. Pull up on the loose end of the thread slightly to apply tension. Next, begin to wind the thread down the shank.
4. Keeping the thread under tension at all times, apply six or seven turns to lock the loose end in place. Now remove the excess with scissors.
Laying down a thread base
This is a continuation of the running-on process and forms the basis of a well-tied fly that will catch fish after fish. Once the loose end of the thread has been fixed and the excess trimmed off, the thread should be wound in tight, touching turns all the way to the bend. Try to leave as few gaps as possible so that the finished bed of tying thread forms a solid base for the rest of the materials.
The Whip finish
This is the standard way of finishing off a fly; and it is also the most secure. Five turns are ample though you can get away with three or even two turns on a small nymph or dry fly - especially so if the tying thread is waxed to make it slightly sticky.
The finish itself consists of a series of loops formed over the loose end of the tying thread. So, when the loose end is finally drawn tight the loops pull down on to it securing it in place, after which the excess thread is trimmed off with scissors. The fact that the loose end of the thread is now secured prevents the fly unravelling, though for added security, a coat or two of lacquer may be applied to these bare thread turns.
1. Hold the tool so the straight arm is parallel to the hook shank and loop the tying thread over the hook.
2. Keeping the whip finish tool in position, feed some thread from the bobbin and loop it around the hook on the angled-arm.
3. Revolve the tool in the fingers so the straight arm is now positioned above the hook shank. The thread should form a back-to-front figure 4.
4. Position the bobbin holder end of the thread so it is parallel with the hook shank, then revolve the tool half a turn to make the first loop.
5. With the loose end of thread caught in by this loop make further turns of the tool to apply another four loops.
6. When all five turns have been applied flip the thread off the hook on the straight arm but retain tension on the loop with the angled arm.
7. Pull the loose end of the thread so that the loop draws tight. Carry on pulling until the arm is close to the hook.
8. Finally, slip the arm out of the loop and pull it tight. The waste end may now be trimmed away using scissors.
Picking the right hook for fly tying
With literally hundreds of different hook patterns available to the fly tyer the task of choosing the right one would seem a veritable minefield, especially for the beginner. The good news is that all is not lost, for with a few simple pointers and a little thought it is easy to pick your way through this hazard, without even damaging a fingernail.
First, there are many good brands out there: Kamasan, Fulling Mill, Mustad, Tiemco and Partridge to name just a few. Given that hooks are relatively inexpensive I would advise any fly tyer, beginner or experienced, to buy the very best that they can afford. Always bear in mind that the hook provides a vital link between the angler and the fish. If it fails for any reason, that fish is going to be lost and sod’s law ensures that it will be a big one.
Unlike in ‘the old days’ when hooks were manufactured by hand, today almost all are machine-made. The result, given the vast scale of production, is a very high standard of quality control. So even though millions of hooks are produced, in all shapes and sizes, the incidences of misshapen or poorly finished ones getting through to the fly tyer, are tiny. And this is even more the case if you stick to any of the major brands.
Even so, it is still worthwhile understanding just what makes a good hook good. Apart from the overall shape the main things to look for in a hook are the correct temper, a sharp point and a well cut barb, and the good news is that virtually all modern hooks have these attributes.
A good temper
NOW this doesn’t mean that the hook has a calm disposition, rather that it is hard enough to retain its shape under the stress of playing a fish while not being so brittle that it snaps when heavy pressure is applied.
Testing for the correct temper can be done when the hook is fixed in the vice. Put your finger on the shank, close to the eye, and give it a couple of sharp ‘twangs’. The hook should produce a nice ‘pinging’ sound and simply spring back to its original position. If it’s so soft that it is deformed, throw it away. If it’s brittle and snaps - well I hardly need to tell you what to do.
FLY tying hooks come in three eye-profiles: up-eyed, down-eyed and straight-eyed. Perfectly simple, you would think, but there was once quite a debate about which was best, an up or a down-eyed hook. For a time it all got quite heated, especially where dry fly hooks were concerned, with camps divided between the traditionalists, who advocated the up-eye, and the modernists who were on the side of the down-eye. Fortunately, this Gulliver’s Travels/Bigendian nonsense has all but abated and now most dry flies, especially those used on stillwaters, are tied on down-eyed hooks.
Whichever eye-type you do choose, and the majority of hooks, by far, are down-eyed, the same criteria apply. The eye should be closed perfectly, with no gap between the shank and, most definitely, should have no sharp edges. Either of these problems will inevitably lose you a fish.
Well cut barb
WHERE a fly hook has a barb, and in the UK this is still the majority, it is important that it is cut correctly. The reason is twofold: the first is that a large deeply-cut barb weakens the hook point and, if overdone, can cause it to snap off. The second is that the large angle created makes it more difficult for the hook to penetrate.
With this in mind, next thing to consider is what type of fly you are intending to tie. While it is perfectly possible to tie almost every fly on either a medium-weight wet fly hook or a longshank, there are plenty of other types that offer lots of possibilities but can easily confuse the issue.
It is also important to choose a hook to work with a particular material. For instance, don’t choose a narrow-gaped hook for a Fritz-bodied lure. The bulk of the Fritz will simply mask the hook-point and lead to many missed takes.
When it comes to advocating the use of many specialist hook patterns it’s a tough call to justify them all. Indeed there are still a number of very good anglers who use standard wet fly hooks for all their wet fly, nymph and pupa imitations.
That said, innovations like the grub and caddis hooks provide both the weight and a very natural-looking profile that, surely, makes any imitation tied on them that much more effective.
MOST trout hooks are finished with a bronze coating. Occasionally, other colours are used including black, red and gold. The only other finish that is used to any great degree is silver either as a coating, in the case of a nickel finish, or as an integral part of the hook, in the case of stainless steel. For most applications a bronze hook is perfectly fine, but if you are tying lures with a white, or at least a very pale coloured body, it is well worth using a silvered hook. The reason is that, once a fly has been used and put back into the fly box wet, rust will quickly creep from the hook into the body materials ruining the pristine effect. Silvered hooks remedy the problem while stainless steel ones are even better, being resistant even to saltwater, though more expensive.
ALTHOUGH there are many different types of fly hook, of all those used in fly tying it is the wet fly patterns that are the most popular.
WET fly hooks come in three basic grades: heavy, medium-weight and lightweight. They also come in a variety of shapes, the two most popular being the round bend and the sproat bend. Round bend hooks, as the name suggests have a bend that is perfectly round from the end of the shank to the hook point. Sproat bend hooks, on the other hand, flatten out as the bend comes into the point, a manufacturing technique that is supposed to add strength and increase hooking power.
The Kamasan B175 is the classic heavyweight wet fly hook, ideal for tying anything from wet flies and nymphs to mini-lures and Tadpoles.
Medium-weight wet fly hooks, such as the Kamasan B170 make a good compromise being heavy and robust enough for tying most nymphs and wet flies while being light enough for many dry flies especially those that incorporate plenty of hackle-turns, CdC or foam to help them float.
Lightweight wet fly hooks are something of an anomaly as it’s difficult to meaningfully differentiate between them and those sold as standard, down-eyed dry fly ones. Personally, all I look for in a hook of this type, is the weight of the wire.
WHEN deciding which type of hook to use for tying dry flies there is often going to be a compromise. Logically, one could argue that to help the fly to float the hook should always be a fine-wire variety. No problem there, except that fine wire hooks are not the strongest, which is okay if you’re chasing small wild brown trout on an upland stream. But, if it’s big reservoir rainbows you’re after then you need another approach. For most stillwater applications don’t go any finer that a lightweight wet fly hook. You do have to be realistic though so match the hook to both the tackle you are using and the environment in which you are fishing and you won’t go far wrong.
Over the years a number of specialist dry fly hooks have also been designed. The two that seem to have stuck are the Terrestrial and the Klinkhamer. The former has a long, slightly curved shank, which makes it ideal for big dry flies such as the Stimulator or for nymphs including the Damsel Fly Nymph.
THIS type of hook is particularly useful when we need to tie a big fly, but don’t want the very wide gape associated with a hook with a standard shank length. They are most often used for tying lures and larger nymphs.
WIDE gape hooks are just that: hooks where the gape of the hook is almost as wide as the shank length. They are great for tying Buzzers or, conversely, any bulky pattern where the body materials might otherwise impede the fly’s hooking capabilities.
THOUGH it is possible to tie caddis larvae patterns on this type of hook, the weight, combined with the straight or slightly upturned eye, make it more suited for caddis pupae imitations. The reason is that this type of pattern, because it is imitating a creature rising towards the surface, is fished higher in the water than most larvae imitations.
THIS hook has a long, curved shank and a relatively narrow gape making it ideal for adult sedge imitations or for tying a curved bodied Damselfly nymph.
NOW, although we know they weren’t, it looks for all the world as if carp hooks were specially designed for tying fast sinking Buzzers. The thick wire, which makes these hooks ideal for playing huge carp, helps the Buzzer to sink quickly while the shape creates that classic, curved buzzer profile that is the mark of the most deadly imitations.
THE number of hook patterns falling into this group is constantly growing. All have a very similar humpbacked profile with no definite section where the shank is straight. They do vary in thickness though, with the heaviest perfect for either quick-sinking Buzzers, Shrimp patterns or Grayling Bugs.
The lighter type may also be used for bugs, either used plain or weighted, or to tie Buzzers or Snatchers, which are intended to fish higher in the water.
THOUGH doubles aren’t used that often when tying trout flies they do fulfil a useful purpose. Where they were once the preserve of the Scottish loch fisher in the form of the ‘wee double’ today they are more often used to tie mini lures and nymphs where the extra weight of the combined hooks makes them ideal for fishing as a point fly.
Most doubles are formed from a single piece of wire, bent to form a loop eye, with the two shanks then braised together.
ANOTHER type of hook that works well for Buzzers and other curved-bodied nymphs is the circle hook. It has a reputation as a very good hooker, but because of its shape, and the fact that it is barbed, it can be difficult to get out of a fish. As a result, it is banned on a number of catch-and-release waters.
Barbed or Barbless?
ON many catch-and-release waters using a barbed hook is a complete no-no. This can mean either using a hook manufactured without a barb or simply pinching down the barb of an ordinary hook with a pair of pliers. Arguments ensue over which type is better at holding fish. Whichever route you take, the advantage of the barbless hook is that it is far easier to remove from a fish than one with a barb – the end result being less damage to the fish, potentially increasing its chances of survival.
Of the purpose-designed barbless hooks, they fall into two main camps. The first are simply an established hook pattern where the bend and point remain the same, it’s simply that no barb has been cut. The next and more interesting type are those such as the Knapek and the Tiemco 2499SP that have an upturned spear point that not only hooks extremely well but appears to hold the fish well too. Looking at the profile it is likely that the upturned point prevents those slack-line drop-offs that seem to occur with ordinary barbless.
Add some weight
Hooks can also be used to add weight to the fly – even when tying dry flies, which you might find something of a surprise. Emerger patterns are a classic example of this where it is important that the abdomen of the fly cuts quickly through the surface film so that only the wing and hackle float. The Shuttlecock and Han’s Van Klinken’s Klinkhamer are the two best known patterns of this type.
Using a heavy wire hook to make a fly sink is no more apparent than in the case of the Buzzer. Where once they were all tied on standard wet fly hooks, some years ago some clever person came up with the idea of tying them on a carp hook. It was quite a revelation at the time and moved deep-water Buzzer fishing forward, in a big way.