Top 5 Anglers
One of the greatest searches that is conducted every fishing season is the quest for the best mayfly pattern. Any keen angler will tell you that. The difficulty with that is that there are so many excellent patterns, some of them shrouded in mystery, others blatantly simple and readily available. Some excellent patterns are to be found in all good tackle stores, or within the pages of any number of fly tying or fly fishing books.
It probably would have been quite easy to compile a great list of people who have sensational patterns, but the following five anglers have all made a very unique contribution to Tasmanian fly fishing. The flies that they use, and their innovative approach to fly fishing continues to move Tasmanian fishing techniques to the forefront of world angling!
What we have uncovered here are five flies from five of Tasmania's top anglers, exposing their unique approach to the age old mayfly problem.
Getting these patterns out of their protectors" grasp has not been easy, and I am sure you will all be able to keep the secret!
Some of these flies are very much the unique design of individual anglers, and represent their personal approach to their fishing. For example the fly that Jim Davis uncovers is particular to his own style of angling, where the fly that Jim Allen favours is more conventional.
Each of the anglers is presented with a brief run down on why they are at the top level of fly fishing, as well as a description of the fly and how to fish it.
Malcolm has been fishing all over the world, both as a recreational angler, and as part of various Australian Fly Fishing teams. His crowning glory was captaining the Australian win in the World Fly fishing Championships in the Snowy Mountains in 1999. He then backed this up with a sensational third place in the 2000 Championships in England, in May, again as captain.
In between telecommunication installations Malcolm can be found patrolling Penstock Lagoon, as well as doing a little guiding with Tasmania's Premier Fly Fishing Guides.
When I asked Malcolm what his favourite mayfly pattern was, the answer was simple. "Oh, I am a Klinkhammer man". The Klinkhammer style of fly tying is a cross between a dry and a wet, the fly sits both on top of the water, as well as underneath it. The hackle is tied parachute fashion, it is this that sits the fly in the water. The body is tied similarly to a nymph, which hangs underneath, adopting the profile of a hatching nymph. This is really a modular method of tying flies, it is easy to adapt the fly to suit different locations.
The simplest way to describe how to fish it is to "put it in front'. It is a pattern to be fished static, any movement will either sink it, or make it flip over on its side. Put it in front, and then wait three seconds after the trout eats it!
Variations are available in all good fly shops. It is open to some great interpretations.
Peter Hayes - www.flyfishtasmania.com.au
Peter Hayes would be one of the countries top fishing guides, his level of professionalism and innovation in the industry is well known, as well as being a former Australian fly fishing champion. Nine times Australian casting champion only adds to the list of impressive credentials. Peter fished as a member of the 2000 Australian Fly fishing Team in the U.K, where he finished 13th, which is a huge effort. He also caught the biggest fish of the championships, a 6 pound brown, on the River Test, no less. Peter's best mayfly pattern is called the Possum Emerger, and is quite unique in the way it is tied, and the way it is fished. It really is a cross between a nymph and a dry fly; it sits half in the water, and half out. It adopts a terrific lifelike profile, really mimicing the hatching mayfly.
Wing: Brown or natural possum fur, tied so it lays back over the hook, giving it the same profile as a natural dun wing.
Body: Tied as you would a nymph, with brown or greyish possum fur, dubbed so that it has a relatively loose and scraggly appearance. Peter ties his with a bright flouro head, so as to help it stand out in the crowd, so to speak! Please yourself if you wish to tie in a rib, a copper one is probably best.
The great thing with possum fur is that is has the right colour naturally, and does not require any dying or additional treatment. The inherent buoyancy of the material also helps create the "perfect" imitation.
There are two ways to fish this fly, either as a static pattern, simply cast in front and left to be eaten, or stripped as you would a wet fly. To get the full drum on this technique, read the article, "dry flies with attitude', elsewhere in this issue.
Jim is a Tasmanian for around four months of the year, he arrives to the start of the mayfly fishing, and depending upon the weather, can be found either at Little Pine Lagoon, Arthurs Lake, or out in the western lakes. He and his good friend John Philbrick pioneered the modern polaroiding technique now so common to the western lakes fishery, their techniques for scanning the water on blue sky days were revolutionary when first done, but now are considered "de rigueur ".
There are not many people more passionate about the Tasmanian fishery, or more knowledgeable on catching the trout contained therein. Jim has a wealth of experience on all sorts of angling worldwide, yet it is Tasmania that continues to give him world class fishing.
The best of the Tasmanian fishing that attracts Jim down here year after year are the magnificent mayfly hatches that begin in late November, and peter out in March.
Jims favourite pattern is the Barry Lodge emerger, a fly that simply oozes the mayfly-ish-ness required for success. The fly that Jim likes has a dark brown body, with a hackle wound only through the thorax. The fly should not sport any shiny rib or binding, save only a dull copper rib; one that has been weathered for many a year. Jim likes them quite big, especially in a large wave and a dull day, often using them on a size 10, or on a really rough day, a size 8! When things get really calm, then the smaller sizes are used, and he also clips the hackle flush with the bottom of the fly.
One secret little trick that Jim uses on the really big hatch days is to give the fly a little movement, not too much, just a subtle twitch. That's enough to get the focus onto your pattern, and not the millions of naturals.
Jonathon Stagg is one of the brightest prospects in Australian competition angling. Between he and his close fishing companion, Jim Davis, there are no trout safe anywhere. Jim and he work together on many new and innovative methods, and together are known as the "master and his apprentice'!
Jonathon has represented Australia with distinction in the World
Championships in Poland, as well as competing in New Zealand this year with the Oceania team. His competitive spirit, and angling skills are exemplary, and it is these traits that lead him to be continually developing and improving fly fishing techniques. In the recent Tasmanian Championships, it was only bad luck that prevented him winning comprehensively, as he was clearly the leading angler in terms of fly selection, and fishing technique.
The fly that Jonathon has unveiled here is like so many of his flies, simple, yet extremely functional and efficient. The parachute dun style of tying is not new; Jan Spencer has been producing similar flies for ages, but this pattern is a classic example of how to tie these flies. The proportions are spot on, it is not bulky or over dressed as some tend to be, the wing is light yet easy to see, and the parachute hackle gives the right "footprint" on the water, as well as the right position in the film. There are no secrets with how to fish this fly, simple.
As Jonathon points out; "put it in front'!
Jim Davis, otherwise known as "the master', has a reputation as one of the top 5 anglers in Australia. Jim consistently finishes in the top 4 or 5 in every competition he enters in, and is widely regarded as the one to beat. His knowledge of conditions, fly selection, and techniques is rarely surpassed, his win in the 2000 Tasmanian Fly Fishing Championships is testament to that, as well as representing Australia in Poland. Jim also is well known for not being too free with the secret flies, although I must say he was more than happy to help out with this short exposÃ© on dun patterns.
The fly that Jim has given us is an emerger pattern, but with some very important subtle differences. The body is tied as you would expect a brown nymph to be tied, but with a soft grey dubbing, and a very fine copper wire rib.
The wing, however, is the major departure, and in this regard is quite unique.
The wing bud, or case, is tied with orange C.D.C, which is a brave departure from convention. Orange is a wonderful colour for trout, but I don't know of too many who would use it on a may fly pattern as a wing! However if Jim uses it, it must work, and is another indication of the inventiveness of this very clever angler.
Jim tells that the best way to fish this fly is with a little movement, not too much, but also to get it in front of the trout. A lot of the fishing Jim does is to the very finicky trout in Dee Lagoon, so Jim knows a lot about presentation, and also what to do with it when the fly is in front. It is no secret that when Jim gets on Arthurs he does some real damage to the trout stocks there!
Even though the five patterns presented here are quite different in a variety of ways, they would all catch well for their users in the same hatch, on the same day and on the same lake. The lesson to be learnt here is that it isn't really the pattern you use, as long as it is used in the right manner. There is no point pulling a parachute dun, or Klinkhammer fly in a dun hatch, they just wouldn't fish correctly. By the same token, the Barry Lodge Emerger, Jim Davis" emerger and the possum emerger do very well when given an enthusiastic strip.
Each pattern is excellent in its own right, tie some up for yourself, fish it the same way as the "guru's', and then think about the results.
Fly fishing should be a past time of trial and error, reward and endeavour. If we all used the same flies, on the same day, and always caught the same amount, then I fear we would no longer fish with the same vigour, or indeed with any passion at all.