Saturday, April 06, 2013
Ah the Jingler! A fly I've raved about more than once I admit. It goes against all my fly tying instincts and yet has proved again recently - as it did last spring - to be uncommonly effective amongst early season fish. Of the 11 I've landed in my first two sessions so far, 9 have been to the Jingler, and I still can't get over the way the trout so gratefully accept this untidy haystack of a pattern.
Why this should be so is still a mystery to me; I'm clutching at tenuous evidence here, but this is my hyposthesis:
Although fully collar hackled dry flies seemed to fade from fashion on northern rivers some years ago, I do know a handful of anglers who still swear by such traditional patterns in the early season only. One such chap opts for the Kite's Imperial, ginked up and fishing on it's 'tippy toes' for example. My own experience has brought me to conclude that in the spring, fish do indeed seem a tad more receptive to fully dry patterns than the emergers we rely on so heavily these days. Why so?
My theory concerns the lower water temperatures we encounter at this time of year. Cooler water means a greater degree of surface tension - the cohesive force of water molecules which allows insects and other lightweight, but denser than water objects to sit atop the surface. In the context of our early season large dark olives and March browns, that may mean the emerging duns have greater difficulty breaking through the meniscus into fresh air, but it also means that once there, they stand right up on their toes, well clear of the surface film. The photo below illustrates this adequately (apologies for the poor quality, it is a heavy crop of a slightly out of focus shot):
See how this large dark olive (photographed on the Ribble in air temperatures of only 5C last week), makes contact with the surface only via its feet and the tip of one tail.....and possibly a very short section of the upper abdomen, although it's impossible to tell for sure from here.
Viewed from below, this dun will manifest as a dark shadow above several small, individual dimples of refracting light. This is interesting because it may explain why high riding collar hackled patterns are so effective at this time of year....and it would also suggest that the abdomen colour of our chosen fly matters not one bit as the only part of the insect's colour visible via transmitted light is likely to be the wings.....but that's a discussion for another day.
This all of course relies upon the assumption that later in the season when water temperature increases and so surface tension decreases, then the newly emerged duns ride lower in the surface film, possibly with the full length of abdomen lying against the surface.....perhaps explaining the greater effectiveness at that time of patterns such as the paradun and various low riding cdc based duns? I'll be keeping a close eye on this and will confirm findings in due course.
It's a shaky hypothesis at best, but one which might have at least some valid grounding. The timing aspect certainly seems to correlate, as in the case of the Jingler its effectiveness drops off markedly after the end of April. I think the truth might lie somewhere in a combination of the above surface tension factor, coupled with the large profile of the fly (which undoubtedly appeals to hungry spring fish on the lookout for a good protein rich meal), and the use of partridge hackle at the front end - an embelishment which for reasons known only to the fish, always proves a good bet. Whatever, it works a bloody treat and that's all we really need to know!
I stocked up on them recently. The licence to be slapdash and scruffy with my flytying is a liberation. I'm not a neat tyer by nature and the Jingler allows me to get away with this in pleasing fashion. That said, compared to what I've seen of the native Scottish original, my version is relatively lightly dressed so perhaps I need to get even more heavy handed with the hackle! These have worked for me though, and in spectacular fashion. With warmer weather upon us and the potential for a feeding frenzy very much on the cards, I'd definitely recommend giving this pattern a go in the coming weeks.
Large Dark Olive Jingler
Hook: Partridge SLD #14
Thread: Griffiths sheer 14/0 cinnamon
Tails: Coq de Lyon, tied in long-ish
Abdomen: thread, stripped quill, dubbing, or as used here, Hends body quill
Collar hackle: leggy red cock, tied long and bushy
Head hackle: grey partridge tied concave (ie wrong way round) and long