A Difficult Day

fishing spiders, flymphs & nymphs

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A Pair of Spiders Save the Day

On my last trip I found that there wasn’t much hatching and what was hatching was black and small, or tiny to be more accurate. And the fish were fixated on them. But what to do? I remember a previous fishing trip a few years ago now, in which I was faced with mirror-like conditions with very little if any wind and trout feeding on something just below or in the surface film. There seemed to be hundreds of fish…I couldn’t go wrong…could I? Well it did go wrong. I still enjoyed my of session of course but left without catching a thing, without even a single take and wondering why. Nothing had worked: dry flies, nymphs, wet flies. I tried numerous retrieves and presentations all to no avail. I changed to thinner and thinner tippet diameters and made sure the leader was degreased. I cast stealthily and kept off the skyline, kept low and made sure my shadow didn’t fall on the water. I was later to discover the tiny chironomid midge that they were fixated upon. In seasons to come, I would face the same circumstances perhaps two or maybe three times in a season, all with similar results.

After my last session (see my previous post) when thinking about how to tackle these situations the only thing I could think of trying was some small spider patterns tied to ‘imitate’ the miniscule black midge pupae. The flies I would tie would need to stand out from the hordes of naturals and I concluded I could achieve that by:

  • tying patterns larger than the naturals (but still small)
  • by adding some ‘flash’ or colour to the spider patterns

The conditions on my last trip to the loch were a blustery, strong and cool wind which I had over my back and left shoulder. This created a flat area of clam water fairly close to the bank (and you’ve guessed it) the trout were taking tiny black chironomids just subsurface. And there was lots of trout there. I attached two #16 spiders and initially let the flies sit just subsurface – no interest from the trout. Then I began to retrieve the flies…just two or three short jerks and a pause…and a take to the flies! I missed the take (of course) and then a boil just behind the flyline loop. I lifted just as the fish turned and flashed subsurface…and I soon my first fish of the session in the net. Not a big fish, but I was beginning to come to terms with the situation: fish taking tiny chironmid in clam water. I would go on to land another two. But the takes were many and had I managed to connect with them all, would have had a spectacular session. I must have had 20 takes in all to my new flies. Small steps though, small steps. Interestingly, I found the fish which I was to catch all took the dropper fly. I switched the two flies round but each time the fish took the dropper. Coincidence? Perhaps.


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