Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spinner serenade


The dawn of a new trout season rapidly approaches and I have at last returned to the vice to top up my stock of large dark olive patterns - paraduns, cdc duns, waterhen bloas etc. The third week of the month sees me off work for a few days and if the weather is kind enough, I shall be out on the river for a day or two in search of a big early season bruiser.
I had worried for a while that my enthusiasm for the sport was waning. The winter has been mild and I really should have made an effort to go grayling fishing some more, or at least keep my eye in at the vice. But somehow I couldn't muster the effort and the last few months have been spent festering indoors and drinking more beer than is good for a man.

Now though, with the dire month of February put to the sword at last, and with the chaffinches in song and blackbirds finding their voices in the highest branches at dusk; now I am at last stirred from my stupor and inspired. It's a good feeling, and a relief to know that I still have fly fishing blood coursing through my veins. The best of the year now stretches out in front of us: with the end of September still seven months distant, the full spectrum of angling possibilities presents itself. It's exciting to think what experiences the season might hold.

I found myself getting a little too far ahead. I always do. Once the large darks were tied, my thoughts turned to long summer evenings and that most enigmatic of fisher's flies, the blue-winged olive. I cannot visualise a sunset by the river without looking up into the slanting light and seeing in my mind's eye the burning sparks of a thousand dancing spinners. I watched the re-make of the film King Kong a few nights ago, marveling at the special effects and attention to detail so professionally rendered. In one scene the eponymous silverback reclined in the evening light of his prehistoric island with illuminated flies flitting lazily around his head. I wondered if they were giant blue-wings..........
The spinners are a beautiful sight to behold and I wish I had the opportunity to fish amongst them more often. Sadly, recent seasons have seen precious few proper falls - at least when I've been on the water - and as a result my skills have become blunted and are now I fear, way off the standard required to deal adequately with this most challenging of situations. If there's one thing guaranteed to make a Kong-sized monkey out of a fly fisher, then it must surely be extracting trout from the flat tail of a pool where they lie, sidling about just under the surface, hoovering up spent spinners within a window of vision which must measure mere centimeters. And in near darkness.

Still, I'm always up for a challenge and I hope that I get plenty of chances to redress the balance this summer. I have a pattern which works anyways; or at least it works when unhindered by ahem, 'operator error'. It even has a little white wing-post which makes it visible in the gloaming. Since arriving at its current incarnation a couple of season ago, there have all too few suitable occasions for deployment; but when pressed into action - and when the man holding the rod has avoided making a total hash of things - my spinner pattern did the business admirably and I was left with the satisfying feeling that I had addressed a fly tying problem and solved it, meeting the criteria which I had set:

Wings in 'spent' position
Contorted abdomen
Correct attitude
Reliable floatability
Visibility in failing light

For some time, I have believed I am on to a winner with this pattern. I just need to reinforce the theory ....I hope this summer provides the opportunity!

8 comments:

Peter said...

Hi Matt,
nice to hear from you again.Which of us haven't pondered the same thoughts as yourself I wonder during the long winter nights;when the pace of life is ever quickening and time just evaporates,when everything and everyone seems at odds with one another? Thats why we fish;because it affords us the opportunity to redress the balance. Remember what Arthur Ransome said "Fishermen and Gardners make fine old men" After watching the first series of HEARTBEAT many years ago I let the family know that if I had my way I would love "to leave" like the old doc' in Aidensfield.....face down in the beck;rod in hand.Cheer up mate and like Monty Python "always look on the bright side of life"

Peter said...

Hi Matt,
nice to hear from you again.Which of us haven't pondered the same thoughts as yourself I wonder during the long winter nights;when the pace of life is ever quickening and time just evaporates,when everything and everyone seems at odds with one another? Thats why we fish;because it affords us the opportunity to redress the balance. Remember what Arthur Ransome said "Fishermen and Gardners make fine old men" After watching the first series of HEARTBEAT many years ago I let the family know that if I had my way I would love "to leave" like the old doc' in Aidensfield.....face down in the beck;rod in hand.Cheer up mate and like Monty Python "always look on the bright side of life"

The Jassid Man said...

Hi Matthew!

Lovely post about the most precious of flies! I printed it out to read since I have a little difficult to read from a computer screen. After reading I saw that it was worth having a printed comy of your essay. I really like the fly too. I have a Mustad hook that resembles the hook you use. The Mustad hook is called "Swimming Nymph" and is far too big to use for a dry fly. Furthermore the hook eye in not bent down it just goes straight upwards and that doesn't seem right on a dry fly. I would really appreciate if you could give the tying description of this lovely fly.

Have fun tying flies awaiting the spinner fall,
Mats (Short of Matthew in Swedish) Olsson

Matthew Eastham said...

Hi Mats!

Thanks for the comment. You can find a step by step here:

http://www.flyforums.co.uk/fly-tying-patterns-step-step/68285-bwo-spinner-cripple.html

Matt

Andrew Griffiths said...

Hi Matthew,
What a great blog! Re: your spinner fly design, I am sure you will have tested it alongside a version tied without the bend in the shank - how significant a trigger does this bend prove to be? What I am trying to say, is that I imagine that fly pattern would catch well without the bend - how much better with?

Matthew Eastham said...

Thanks Andrew. You make an interesting point. I laboured for years in spinner falls, sometimes failing miserably even though I was pretty sure I was getting the presentation right. I usually went for the classic bow tie winged sherry spinner type thing. When I latched on to the cranked abdomen theory (see if you can dig up the work of US angler Kelly Galloup) my catch rate in spinner falls increased exponentially. I put it down to the fly's profile as a vulnerability trigger making a difference when the fish have myriad naturals to choose from. Others (notably Edwards and Crofts) have found the same.

Then again, it might just be down to the angler confidence factor!

Have a great season,
M

Andrew Griffiths said...

Well you can't get much more vulnerable than dead! lol I've just bent a few Kamasan B405's in preparation. Intuitively to me, it makes sense that if there is a lot of something about that they are taking, then something that looks similar but that bit different is in with a good chance of attracting attention - which is maybe the only reason we ever catch anything when fly fishing anyway? I'll certainly be giving it a try and looking forward to it. Thanks for the American reference - I'll try to dig it out.
Great blog again, seriously good.

Andrew Griffiths said...

Cripples and Spinners by Kelly Galloup.
http://greatfeathers.com/cripples-and-spinners-by-kelly-galloup.aspx

Looks intriguing.
Not cheap over here though.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cripples-Spinners-Kelly-Galloup/dp/0970721307/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330778327&sr=8-1