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Reverse Partridge & Cdc

Water surface

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Fish alarm level

F

or rougher waters, with a tying system similar to that used for the previous model, it is possible to make a valid imitation of large Heptageniidae that takes advantage of the introduction of a Cul de canard feather. All of the barbs of this feather will make up the wings and the hackle and will be mixed with a dappled partridge feather. I find this dressing satisfactory under many points of view: In streams it works well even in difficult situations because it floats well and is very visible; the fun-

damental characteristic of the wings - already well emphasized - is increased by the presence of a very imitative and complete abdomen; fishermen really like the way it looks, at least the ones I know do. This March Brown model is great at the beginning of the season, from March to May and at higher altitudes, until the middle of July. Generally, making reverse flies requires a little more artistry but this fly is also easy to make and the dexterity required is the same as that required for a classic model.

Top left page: Close-up of the Partridge & Cdc Reverse seen floating. Notice how the tail sustains the fly, which has a greater resting surface when the tip of the abdomen sinks. Below: Male subimago of Heptageniidae sp.

On this page: the imitation photographed from below.

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Step 1 – We have seen the tying process for making the abdomen several times: Tie the tails and successively the turkey quill in place on a n. 12 hook. Bend the hook slightly with thin pliers. Prepare a moderate dubbing. Step 2 – Wrap the dubbing making a soft and conical underbelly. Perfect it with scissors. Step 3 – Tie a Cdc feather with part of the extremity flipped.

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Step 4 – Rather than moving the Cdc barbs back, wrap the rest of the feather in a spiral. Tie the head in place and trim the excess material. You must leave 2 mm of space before the eye. Step 5 – Choose a dappled partridge feather.


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Step 6 – Clean the rachis from the excess barbs and tie it next to the Cdc.

Step 7 – Wrap the partridge feather in close spirals and tie it in place at the head.

Step 8 – Divide the barbs on the top in two equal parts with your needle and fingers then flip the Cdc feather toward the head and tie it in place. Step 9 – Trim the excess and finish the fly with knot and glue. This is what the fly looks like from the front. Trim the Cdc barbs that are too long and eliminate the irregular and asymmetrical ones. Step 10 – The reverse fly seen in the correct position.

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Reverse Turkey Brown

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Water surface

Fish alarm level

A

lfred Ronalds showcased this dressing in the 1836 ‘Fly-Fisher’s Entomology’, and it was later changed and put forward again by Leonard West in his 1912 work “The Natural Trout Fly and its Imitations”. However, this fly has always been snubbed in the English world and considered an “inferior” and scarcely useful model, as the French author Leonce de Boisset states citing Halford.

The insect the turkey brown aspires to imitate is a Leptophlebiidae, and more precisely a Paraleptophlebia submarginata, whose name refers to the dark edges of the longitudinal veins of subimagos’ wings. In the imagos, the wing membranes are transparent and show no marks. It populates Europe and America (and other parts of the globe) and it is very common in rivers and streams with slow mov-

Top of left page: The Turkey Brown seen from below.

Bottom of left page: Male subimago of P. submarginata.

On this page: The disposition of the barbs seen from the front.

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ing waters and a lot of submerged vegetation. Because of the maculation of the wings, it initially looks like an Ecdyonurus but the small dimension and the three rings, in addition to the lentic ecosystem where it lives, removes all doubts. I have been able to make the imitation of this fly because it populates many rivers and streams of the Po river valley, but I have found it practically all over Europe 1

and in several rivers in the USA. It is a mayfly with a very dark brownish body and equally dark dappled wings. The dimension is important, between 9 and 12 mm, which allows you to use a n. 12 hook. Since it lives in lentic environments or in areas where outflow is limited, places characterized by picky fish, you will need precise imitations that have a small amount of hackle. 3

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Step 1 and 2 – The process to make the abdomen is well known: the tails are in dark red cock neck, the dubbing is in possum fur or in some other dark brown fur, the turkey quill is dark brown.

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Step 3 – Choose a brown and ochre dappled partridge feather.

Step 4 – At the end of the abdomen, tie the feather with the distal part of the barbs pushed back.

Step 5 – Choose a hackle of brown cock with barbs that are a little shorter than the hook. Step 6 – Tie the cock hackle over the ligatures of the partridge feather. 160


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10 Step 7 – With very little possum fur dubbing or similar dubbing make a small mass for the thorax. Step 8 – With two turns behind the partridge feather and two turns in front of it wrap the cock hackle and tie it in place before the eye leaving some space for the head and the knot.

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Step 9 – Wrap the partridge feather in the central space and fix it at the head.

Step 10 – With two fingers and if needed the aid of a needle, divide the barbs of the top part in two equal tufts. Flip the partridge feather between them tying it at the head. Make the head with a few turns and finish with a knot and glue. Step 11 – Here is what the reverse fly looks like in the right position in the water.

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Medium Olive

semi-parachute

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Water surface

Fish alarm level

F

lies with a parachute hackle are nothing new, in fact they are a lot older than many believe. The firm Alex Martin, for example, that was founded in Aberdeen in Scotland in 1778 and then moved to Edinburgh in 1810, included in their early catalogues a series of parachute flies with reviews from New Zealand, Chile, Switzerland, and Nova Scotia. Indeed, in many parts of the world fishermen ordered and reviewed flies that were considered more effective than the classic ones.

Picture, top of the left page: The Medium Olive presented in the dressing seen from the side. Picture, bottom of the next page: A Baetis alpinus, which is well imitated by a Medium Olive.

This mayfly is very common in Europe and can be found in valley rivers, streams, and at higher altitudes (though not extreme). It is however absent from the UK. On this page: The imitation seen from the top and from the front.

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Even in the catalogues, published by Hardy in the first half of the 1900s, you can find several parachute models, built on patented hooks that have a vertical protrusion behind the eye. Today, there are pros and cons to parachute models. Generally, a parachute fly floats very well but its body is partially or totally immersed. However, since fish don’t seem to care about this we won’t consider it a problem. Then there is the infinite discussion among fishermen on whether trout consider this fly an emerger or a distressed subimago. Unless this conversation takes place during the evening at a fishing lodge while having a tasty meal and great wine, debating the topic is not very interesting. Personally, I do not share the same passion for this fly that many of my friends have but I need to concede that it has great qualities and has proven itself in many occasions throughout the years. I make a few parachute models myself, like the incredible Branko’s killer for clear waters and light bottoms, or my March Brown Spinner on page 70, which is formidable in the late afternoon or in the evening in streams. And of course a few other classic models among which the Red Quill parachute. However, I often prefer making a variation to my parachute fly. I call the resulting fly a “semi-parachute”. I think the term is appropriate. First, you build the hackle parachute, which is generally composed of a mix of two feathers (usually I pair a cock feather with a partridge feather or with cul de canard) on a support. You can use a section of the rachis as support. You need to place the support for the hackle almost half way up the hook, pushed a little forward toward the tip. After having wrapped the hackle you will have to flip the support toward the eye and fix it right in front of the eye passing over the thorax. Thus, you will need a certain amount of space. The barbs of the hackle form a sort 164

of vertical fan that is spread both laterally and longitudinally. The vertical barbs imitate the wings and the lateral barbs guarantee buoyancy and keep the body of the fly raised or resting gently on top of the water but not below it, at least for the first casts. There are no vertical barbs below the thorax because the thorax in dubbing pushes them to the side. Vertical barbs immediately penetrate the surface and soak the thorax through capillary action. Thus, every process that avoids having vertical barbs offers an advantage. From the front, the fly looks identical to the two previous “reverse” models, but obviously it is not reverse. I believe the semi-parachute introduces a series of positive features to the fly that improve upon the classic system with the hackle wrapped around the hook as well as the parachute system. However, for those who will debate these statements, I recommend making this fly in the same contexts described previously. The dressing proposed imitates different Baetis. The tails are in gallopardo, the abdomen is in hazelnut coloured turkey quill wrapped around a moderate base of fox fur or capok. The thorax is in dubbing of the same material. The hackle is formed with a feather in cul de canard and a feather from a grey or medium brown cock neck. The parachute support is a piece of cock rachis. It has medium buoyancy, which makes the fly appropriate for slow torrents and plain rivers. Its effectiveness is incredible; because of its size and colour, this fly was able to fool very cunning trout in Baetis swarms. Once the fly has been completed it is good practice to make a final screening to check its silhouette. You should trim the irregular barbs, especially the lateral ones that are too long. It is not a difficult model to make but you need to make it as symmetrical as possible both laterally and longitudinally (see picture on page 163).


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Step 1, 2, 3, and 4 – Place and tie the materials needed to make the abdomen. In this case, gallopardo tails, hazelnut- grey turkey quill, and a dubbing of foxtail fur, or capok, or cul de canard. The turkey quill is partially transparent and so the underbelly will contribute to the final tint of the abdomen. The choice of colours of this dressing will make the abdomen resemble that of different Baetidae and Heptageniidae at the subimago stage. Step 5 – Place a piece of rachis of cock neck feather between the abdomen and the future thorax. Straighten it with a few turns of thread, trim the excess and cover the rest with thread. You need to leave about 3 mm of space between the rachis and the eye on a n. 16 hook and 4 mm of space on a n. 14 hook.

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Step 6 – Tie a hackle of medium grey cock neck firmly to the rachis. Step 7 – Place a cul de canard feather at the base of the rachis.

Step 8 – Cover the segments of feathers with thread and strengthen the ligature with some glue. Make a little dubbing with foxtail fur or capok. Step 9 – Make a moderate mass to imitate the thorax and tie it in front of the eye.

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Step 10 – Parachute wrap the Cdc feather and tie it at the head.


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Step 11 – Wrap the hackle of cock neck, spiralling between the cul de canard.

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Step 12 – Now grab the tip of the rachis to which the hackle parachute is wrapped. Bring it forward over the eye and tie it in front of the eye forming the head of the fly after having trimmed the excesses. The mixed hackle will open up as a fan above and to the sides of the imitation, resembling wings and legs and giving a good floating structure. Step 14 – Here is the finished fly. Notice how the majority of the barbs will imitate the wings on the back of the fly while another part will resemble the legs.

Step 15 – The Medium Olive seen from behind. Notice the ring of barbs opened up as a fan. 167


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