I’ve been asked to show this fly off at a few demos over this year with the latest one last week no exception and when checking back through found I hadn’t placed this as a tutorial demo on our website, something I had to correct right away, so here it is, my Cow Dung Hopper:
The humble Cow Dung fly is something easily identified by most anglers (almost as well-known as our Daddies and certainly as well recognised as our Heather Fly) and a common sight when out chasing fish in areas where animal waste is found.
Named the Cow Dung this fly is found anywhere animal (or not so animal I’m afraid) waste is present and is actually the only terrestrial fly that you can see on the water from opening day right through to curtain fall in October, although fair to say the warmer the weather then the more active it will be.
This means that it is in fact high on the trout’s list of surface food and falls into the ‘Prey Image’ longer than almost anything else, especially when it appears in big numbers through late June, July and August. In fact it can be so important that fish ‘lock in’ to them where cattle, sheep even horses are found in good number.
Places such as Orkney (Harray and Boardhouse Lochs in particular) se the naturals in such numbers to mean this is a must have pattern for me during my regular visits, in fact I’ve now taken to try and coincide these in July / August when there’s a better chance of finding good hatches of Cow Dungs which in turn can produce some spectacular surface sport.
Not that the fish take this pattern purely as a Cow Dung imitation as the profile lends itself very well towards a small light coloured sedge helping this pattern to be a little more versatile and even more worthwhile to have in the ‘armoury’.
We have a few miss-conceptions on our Cow Dungs which, when realised, can help enhance sport a little more (or at least I have found tis to be the case), first up these flies don’t feed on animal waste. Instead they lay their eggs on the waste and the hatching larvae borrow in in search of the larvae of other waste feeding insects meaning the humble Cow Dung is indeed a predatory insect.
The females (slightly smaller than the males and identified by being a dark brown colour) prey on the adult waste feeding insects with the males (those yellow / olive dirty coloured insects we see on the water) actively seek out water in order to prey on water flees.
This means it’s no accident they are present on the water’s surface, and as they are quite accomplished fliers, they can be present into the prevailing wind instead of simply being ‘blown onto’ the water’s surface. Something worth bearing in mind and looking out for.
They’re not only present on still water and can be found on rivers as well, and I have been successful with river Cow Dung feeding trout although I must confess not so much with this wee Hopper, but more with an even simpler pattern which I’ll share another day. (You can’t get all my secrets in one go).
A good fishing tip and common mistake when using this fly; do not move it, much better to merely keep up with the line even during sedge time as the fish seem to like to pick it out static. Another little added bonus is the fact that you also can pick out the better fish this way so be careful when you strike.
All in all very well worth having and certainly something to try next season if you see cattle in the fields and small dirty flies on the water.
Hook; Partridge Dry Fly Supreme (L5A) or Patriot Ideal Standard Dry (SUD2) size 12 -14 (14 best)
Butt; Uni 6/0 Chartreuse Florescent thread
Thread; Uni 8/0 Yellow
Body; Dubbing mix of yellow, medium olive and brown Rabbit / Hare fur well mixed with a pinch of Olive Glister for added flash
Rib; Tying thread tag
Legs; Pre-knotted natural or yellow dyed pheasant tail legs (Veniards)
Wing; Yellow dyed Short Fine deer hair (Wapsi)
Hackle; Ginger Grizzle Cock three turns max trimmed level below.
Step 1. Catch in the Uni Chartreuse Thread and form butt. Tie off thread.
Step 2. Catch in yellow tying thread leaving tag long for rib. Run down to just level with the hook point sealing in floro thread at same time
Step 3. Form dubbing 'rope'
Step 4. Wind dubbing up hook to form body. Run rib in even open turns and pick out body fur.
Step 5. Catch in pre-knotted legs tying high on back of fly
Step 6. Take a small amount of deer hair and tie in keeping the wing short
Step 7. Catch in cock hackle
Step 8. Wind three turns of hackle and tie off, trim waste
Step 9. Form head, trim hackle level below to ensure fly sits in rather than on water surface for that vulnerable meal appeal