Fly Friday #53 is from PRO-Team member Gareth Lewis!
April to May of any year is just amazing. The birds have started singing in earnest, the weather is stabilising (well, as much as it does in the UK anyway) and, after the long, cold, and generally fly-less months of the winter grayling season, we are finally granted the opportunity to fish invertebrate-specific fly patterns instead of an array of eccentric grayling nymphs. The time of the dry fly angler is upon us, and one of the first major hatches to be enjoyed in the UK (and one which sees us dry fly fanatics going a little loopy), is the Grannom (Brachycentrus subnubilis).
As one of the foremost hatches of the year, these invertebrates can appear in huge churning clouds from mid-April throughout the UK and, where temperatures dictate, into May. Unfortunately, 2014 saw a rather disappointing show, likely due to the huge spates throughout the previous winter and well into March, however, 2015 started with biblical proportions throughout the Usk catchment.
There is a slight problem concerning grannom, however; an opinion held by many anglers throughout the UK is that trout simply won’t eat an adult grannom. Rises to adult imitations (fished when adults are on the wing of course), are mostly seen as swirls, slashes or rejections. The key reason to this, more often than not, will be that trout are so keyed-in on the thousands upon thousands of ascending/emerging grannom, that they’ll typically ignore the adults in preference for gorging on the easy emergers. By the time the grannom become fully airborne, well…it’s usually too late.
The trick here of course, will require you to know your river or, more specifically, its invertebrate hatches. If you’re able to predict when the grannom become fully airborne, you simply need to be hitting the river earlier in the day in order to target those confident dimply rises with emergers or, even earlier, with grannom pupa fished in the form of nymphs. As an example, if you happen to be in the car, already travelling to your fishing destination with a goal of hitting the water in time for said ‘dimply-rises’ and your fishing buddy requests you stop at a garage as he’s forgotten lunch/supplies…well, I guess said ‘fishing buddy’ won’t be eating lunch! Before you ask; yes that’s happened, and yes, they went without lunch….any true dry fly addict would do the same, fishing buddy or not. Wouldn’t they?
So, onto patterns, and one such imitation which is hard to beat, is the mighty Grannom Emerger, a la Mr David Collins.
Mr Collins, for those unfortunate not to have the privilege of knowing him, is a true sage in all things River Usk and Trout, and is likely to be one of the nicest guys you will ever meet too. The pattern in question, designed after considerable study by David, has done a number of Usk anglers proud for quite a number of years. It has a realistic feel thanks to its ‘developing’ wing-buds, and fishes consistently well season after season.
The incorporation of the wing-buds was a stroke of genius, and are created by pulling a single CDC hackle through a few drops of head cement between forefinger and thumb. Once shaped (I find making them in batches helps), they can be left to dry while you go and make a cup of tea before starting to tie in earnest. Once dry, a single feather can then be tied to each side of the body.
The body colour of the emerging grannom has been described by numerous authors over the years as a ‘dirty olive/yellow’, and I find Dave’s choice of SLF Masterclass Watery Olive (#14) to be spot on. The addition of the thick, black ribbing, maintains the colour and mirrors the grannom’s emerger stage perfectly.
Remember, this is quite a specific imitation, however, by tweaking the colours, size, and shape of the pattern, will allow you to cover a wide range of emergers, and not just caddis either.
Full credit to this pattern must be given to David; a pattern, without which, we would see many a happier trout…and many more frustrated anglers.
Hook: Partridge of Redditch Grub/Shrimp Down-Eye K4A, size #12 (the Sedge/Caddis (K12ST) is a nice choice also if you require the pattern to sit higher in the film)
Thread: Sheer 14/0, black (which allows the body to preserve its 'dirty olive' colour when the body is wet)
Buoyancy: Four CDC Feathers
Rib: Sheer 14/0, black, doubled-up and doubled again to form a thick rib
Body: SLF Masterclass, Watery Olive (#14)
Wing case: Brown raffia
Wing buds: Each wing bud consists of a single CDC feathers, each pulled through a few drops of head-cement/varnish between your forefinger and thumb, and tied one per side of the fly
Thorax: SLF Master Class, Orange Caddis (#26) and black seals fur (pinch mixed). The black seals fur is lightly picked-out
For a guided fly fishing trip, to check out Gareth's Fly tying or to simply get in touch you can visit his website by clicking here...