Friday, January 01, 2016
Top flies of 2015 - the Fruit Salad Nymph
Pink and orange: two colours that should never really be seen together, unless on a tasteless 1970s kaftan, or the wrapper of my favourite chewy sweets back from when I was a kid. Or as the by-product of a bored fly-tyer's winter experiments. I incorporated just this combination into a nymph tied with no specific purpose a little over a year ago and shoved a couple in the fly box without any real conviction they would ever see the light of day again. That it proved to be one of my most successful flies of the year goes some way to showing that you should never discount anything in fly fishing, and at the same time generated some interesting discussion with mates about the stock we put in colours in our flies and what actually are the key triggers which induce a fish to eat our imitations.
Tracing my own learning curve back over the years tells a story of an angler who first tried to tie any fly which would catch a fish, followed by a desire to more closely copy the insects upon which trout and grayling subsist, before giving that enterprise up as a waste of energy and reverting to a bare bones 'profile and presentation' ethos much championed by the likes of Bob Wyatt. In other words, after ridding myself of the erroneous belief that correct fly choice is paramount at all times, I happily spudged along for a few seasons using a handful of patterns which I believed - and still do - would catch any trout anywhere, provided I put them in the right place with the right presentation. It's a maxim I still adhere to and I firmly believe that these wild creatures we pursue which possess a brain the size of a pea....well put something which looks and behaves like food in front of them and they aren't going to refuse it are they. In that sense you could view tying for spate river nymph fishing as purely a function of achiveing correct profile and size and density to fish at the required depth, such that when a broadly, say heptagenid-shaped object flits past in brisk water, Mr Trout is compelled to shimmy sideways within his 'territory radius' and intercept.
All well and good. However the problem is that my obsession with the above theory doesn't help explain how bright colours in sub surface flies can apparently give a pattern a real edge in certain conditions. Maybe a touch of colour helps the fly get noticed a fraction quicker as it tumbles past, but for the life of me I cannot envisage a trout or grayling moving any great distance to take a nymph, purely because of some irresistible attraction to a brightly coloured tag; sure, if it is in the right zone then it's probably going to be eaten - even if it's drab and nondescript right? Where the hell this leaves me is anyone's guess and there isn't going to be a definitive answer anytime soon. The reality is probably - as with most ponderables in nature - a coalescence of several subtle variables which add up to a whole that we ignorant humans lack the perception to understand. Plus angler confidence. Plus - to paraphrase Paul Gaskell - our innate tendency to prove things to ourselves by reinforcement of positive outcomes rather than discounting by negative outcomes.
Anyway, I'm waffling. Irrespective of whether this nymph is so effective because of its nymphy profile or the colour combination in the tail, I suppose all we really need to know is that it is effective. In fact on its day and in certain conditions, it has proved unbelievably deadly for me - hence its inclusion in this series. What I can tell you is that it fishes well in smaller sizes, does particularly well in low water conditions fished French leader or Tenkara style, seems to give of its best when the water is clear and although it works for grayling, trout seem to particularly like it. A lot!
2. Fruit Salad Nymph
Hook: small jig hook - I use Hends 120s in #16 and 18
Bead: slotted to suit - pink gold used here
Thread: Griffiths sheer 14/0
Tail: two strands each of Glo brite floss #1 and #7
Rib: fine black wire
Body: dark hare mask
Collar hackle: CDC, wound
Thorax: Spectra #335