Sunday, July 22, 2012
Is there really any need for the pattern above? Perhaps not. But then again, if I'm going to sit behind a vice for an hour, what is there left to tie when my boxes are already full to bursting with the staple olives, sedges, cdcs, spiders, nymphs and so on which characterise the bulk of my fly fishing season? Terrestrials are about the only thing I'm thin on at the moment and even then, a few patterns such as Griffiths' gnat, klinkhamers and Paul Procter's NDT cover all bases at the 'small and black' end of the spectrum (see photo at bottom). I was thinking maybe I could do with adding a few turd fly/clegg/hoverfly type thingies.......and so the rusty wheels of invention begin slowly to grind into action.
Frankly I wish I hadn't bothered. In a disturbing turn of events, I seem to have developed, completely out of the blue, an allergy to my fly tying materials. Two weeks ago a patch of roe deer hair turned me into a snivelling wreck, and this afternoon even a benign looking hare mask had me reaching for the Kleenex in no time. The hen partridge skin seemed to send me over the edge and as I write, a couple of hours later, I am only just getting over the urge to scrape my face off with sandpaper. Maybe I've got a case of dust mites (my materials chest, not me personally); who knows. There doesn't appear to be any tell tale damage to my more treasured capes and skins. Or maybe it's just me getting soft. Whichever way, I've never been a man who greatly enjoys tying - it's a means to an end for me, or a last resort out of boredom - and this latest development has further relegated the dressing of flies to the dregs of my priorities tank.
It's a shame: with the sun slanting through the dining room window at last, and promise of some river fishing later this week, for once I was in the mood to wrap thread around hook. I cast my mind back to last summer and a report from friends Rob and Stu who had enjoyed a bonanza one day just around the time a local landowner had decided to crop the top off his straggly bankside meadow. As Farmer Palmer puttered around on the tractor, my mates' fortunes were miraculously and suddenly transformed as the benevolent southerly picked up all manner of grass dwelling beasts and deposited them on the surface downwind. Hectic sport ensued and from what I remember of the conversation, it was a dirty coloured soldier palmer variant which did the business that fair afternoon.
Maybe small brown jobs aren't top of the river fisher's imitation list for the most part, but then again what's the harm in having something available to cover the situation should it ever arise? Especially at this time of year when in the absence of significant aquatic insect hatches, dog day trout are often caught with a smorgasbord of land-bred miscellanea on board, as occasional post mortems of the past have revealed.
So I eventually arrived at the shaggy effort above, after attempting to satisfy the criteria of a) low riding, damp almost b) nondescript and impressionistic and c) easily visible to this short-sighted fisherman. What if any advantage this will give me over a DHE, Adams, dry hare's ear etc is a moot point, but hey - it kept me occupied for a few minutes. I have to admit though, that these days each time I sit down and attempt to tie with a specific insect or group of insects in mind, I end up questioning the validity of the exercise given the generic, base-covering nature of most of the patterns I now use. The 'GISS' theory (general impression of size and shape), is one I put a great deal of stock into nowadays; but it doesn't half wreak havoc with any pretension to fly tying creativity!
So, what of this small brown terrestrial - a useful pattern in the making, or a dud soon to be confined to the corner of the 'reject' flybox? Who knows; when I look back in time, my rather half-arsed and downbeat approach to tying this afternoon might have ended up spawning a winner.......and I suppose it's such vague possibilities which keep even disinclined - and Goddamit allergic - tyers like me returning to the vice from time to time.
For what it's worth,the list of materials is recorded below for posterity:
Hook: Varivas 2100 standard dry #18
Thread:14/0 sheer tan
Rib: UTC small gold wire
Dubbing: hare's ear
Wing post: single ply of white TMC aero dry wing, pulled forward and tied down behind the eye, once the hackles have been wound (a la Headley's crippled midge)
Hackles: grizzle cock and a neck feather from hen grey partridge, wound together
Terrestrials - the more usual black stuff: Griff Gnats and Procter's 'NDT'. I like to clip off the underside of the gnats' hackles. The Procter pattern (don't quote me but I think it might stand for 'nondescript terrestrial'), is very useful as you might expect from such an accomplished angler. I've given it a couple of flicks after suspicious, flats feeding fish and it didn't disappoint. Terrestrially, the only other patterns I use on the river are hawthorns, black klinks, and beetles. You certainly won't catch me trying to recreate the profile of a shield bug - that for me, would certainly be a sneeze too far.