This week's Fly Friday is from PRO-Team member Joe Stitt, it's Spring Olives.

When Christmas is over and New Year has been celebrated I generally awaken on some January morning eagerly anticipating the start of the new fishing season which begins on 1stMarch in Northern Ireland.

Large dark olives almost always appear around 12 noon and usually they emerge for about 2to 2 ½ hours, they are present throughout the winter months and have the typical lifecycle of the Ephemeroptera, egg, nymph, dun or sub imago, Spinner or imago.

As a dry fly and upstream nymph angler my fly box carries relatively few patterns for the spring olive, two types of nymph three types of dun pattern and one spinner pattern which I use for most spinner rises. The nymphs are  pheasant tail nymph both weighted and unweighted,  hares ear nymph ribbed with bright green wire and as above, sometimes weighted and sometimes unweighted. The dun patterns are Thomas Clegg’s “dark olive”


This dressing is given in Thomas Clegg’s Book “The truth about fluorescence”    

The dressing is given as:

Tying silk: Primrose                                                                                                                 

Tail: Med. Olive hackle fibres                                                                             

Body: Blue grey squirrel under fur                                                                            

Rib: Phosphor yellow Depth ray fire floss( available from Saville’s)            

Hackle: Blue/grey and medium olive wound together   


Step by Step  

Step One: Start thread behind eye and wind touching turns to bend of hook (I have started thread back from eye to demonstrate the space needed for hackle)

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Step Two: Tie in a small bunch of fibres of Medium olive cock hackle fibres as tail.

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Step Three: Depth ray fire fluorescent floss. This can be bought from Saville’s

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Step Four: DRF floss rib tied in and thread back at tail. 

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Step Five: Body - blue/grey under fur of grey squirrel dubbed and ribbed with DRF.

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Step Six: Hackle—blue grey and medium green olive cock hackle wound together.

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Hook selection is always important, SUD 2 and SLD 2 are excellent for dry flies. The flies here are tied on SLD 2 Size 14 and parachute patterns on SLD 2 size 12.

Greenwell’s glory was and still is really good taker of rising fish during a dark olive rise. 

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With the greatest of respect for the creators of the above flies I have a habit of adding and changing features of all the old great flies to see if I can improve them in any way or even make them suit different times of day or changes in brightness or dullness of days. I cannot claim to have great degree any success but two of the dressings I now use a lot of the time are the above tied in parachute style.

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The Greenwell’s glory has been changed in two ways, firstly the fly has been dressed parachute style, next the hook has been altered slightly to create a small hump below the post to partially submerge the body and give the illusion that the fly is in the emerging process and more vulnerable to the trout.

Thomas Clegg pattern the dark olive again has been dressed parachute style.

Step One: (same as Greenwell’s)

Hook in vice, below the eye pointed pliers, these are gripped on the hook shank below where the post will be fixed and a small hump created.

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Step Two: The resulting hump, up until now I have had no broken hooks which is testament to Partridge SLD 2 hooks.

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Clegg’s Dark olive dressed parachute

The profile of the fly suggests the body will be partially submerged.

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My full selection of dry fly patterns for Baetis Rhodani in March 

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Looking at the photograph above, from left to right

1: Parachute Greenwell’s Glory

2 and 3: traditional Greenwell’s  Glorys

4:Thomas Clegg’s dark olive

5: Thomas Clegg’s LDO dressed as parachute pattern

Large dark olives are probably the most common of our upwing flies in Northern Ireland; they are present on all the rivers I fish, and usually in quite large numbers. In March I generally fish from 12 noon until around 3 pm by which time the hatch has usually finished. John Goddard made a good point about spinner fishing at this time of year, he stated that because the hatches occurred in mid- day and spinners did not return in the late evenings as in mid- summer, coupled with the fact that the females usually crawl under water via vegetation to deposit eggs, they do not present themselves as a target to the trout to any great extent that spinner fishing is not worth the effort. His word is good enough for me and while it is still possible to take trout by fishing a nymph, I usually leave for home. 



Joe Stitt

I Started fishing in the late1940s as a schoolboy with worms. I graduated to flyfishing as a teenager and after a long period of trout fishing became a purist in my pursuit of trout, fishing dry fly first choice and upstream nymph as a close second, as described by one of my heroes - Frank Sawyer.

I started to tie flies at one stage, these were very crude to say the least, probably due to lack of tuition in those times. This led me in later life to want to achieve better standards and got involved with instruction, first though STANIC in Trout and fly dressing. These two diciplines inspired me on to APGAI with Gaia, AAPGAI Master in Tout and seatrout, APGAI Ireland Trout and Fly Dressing and Federation of flyfishers CCI and Masters in single casting instruction.

My actual fly fishing has taken me to most of Europe in pursuit of trout and grayling, Salt water fly fishing in Florida, in the sea of Cortez for Roosters, Bonita and Dorado, the Pacific for Sail fish and Marlin with the climax of my career fishing for Browns and Rainbows in New Zealands South Island at least once and sometimes twice per year over a thirteen year period. This experience has made a very big impact on my fly dressing opinions