River Dancers
  |  First Published: October 2013

It has been a reasonably wet Winter by some standards and most catchments in the south-east of the continent are saturated.

Of course this augurs well for the coming trout season. In Victoria and southern NSW it means good stream flows and temperatures throughout the Spring and Summer, as well as increased food washed into the streams. In Tasmania it means great early season fishing on the flooded highland lakes and tarns.

Early-season fishing on these flooded lakes and rivers usually means wet flies and heavy nymphs. However, this is not always the case because as the season progresses and you start to get periods with a rising barometer, the ‘river dancers’ begin to appear.

Of course I mean the mayflies, given optimum conditions. And I do not mean windless blue-sky days, which are optimum conditions for the angler. I mean rising water temperatures and barometric pressures.

These conditions can occur any time from mid-October to March-April. Believe it or not, mayflies will hatch in some of the most miserable conditions, including snowstorms.

Down in the lowland streams you are more likely to see some form of mayfly activity a little earlier than up top.

Although there are many species of mayfly, and probably 10 times as many imitations for each species, I have found the simpler ones to be the most effective. And with the never-ending supply of innovative materials being produced to assist the avid tyer, things can get pretty simple.

I have used this pattern very effectively from the lakes of the Snowy Mountains and on through Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.

For lake fishing you can dress it a little heavier to assist in keeping it up on those long, drag-free drifts. Alternatively, on the more genteel-natured or more classic mayfly streams you can dress it down a little.

You can also clip the hackle level with the point of the hook to allow the fly to sit flush with the surface film, for a more realistic aspect.

Either way, the key to this fly and its looks is no doubt the wing. Hemingway’s produce a number of realistic fly materials that can be used to great effect by the thinking tyer. The mayfly wings are one such product; it just makes the whole mayfly construction business an easier prospect.

The key to fishing this fly, particularly on the highland lakes and tarns, is to get a nice drag-free drift.

On those breezy days, this is a little easier to achieve because you can wade the tarns and lake shore with the wind at your back and flick short casts to either side and just slowly move with the drift of the fly.

You can also use it to cast to sighted fish and ambush them by placing the fly in their paths. Often the trained eye will see the fish from a fair way off, allowing time to set the trap.

Stream fishing with the mayfly is most satisfying, because mayflies have the habit of bringing many fish to the surface.

Again, you have to lay your trap to outwit your victim. Be advised, though, that the largest rise is not always from the largest fish.

A large concentration of the naturals is of course going to pose other problems because the trout can be a little selective with so much on offer.

However, the materials in this pattern will go some way to evening the odds up. Tie a few and go watch the show, and if the fish don’t co-operate, sit back, enjoy the surroundings and admire your creations in the fly box!


HOOK: Daiichi 1170 #12
THREAD:Black 8/0
BODY: Stripped peacock herl
HACKLE:Honey dun
WING:Hemingway’s pre-formed
TAIL:Grey micro fibbets
RIB:Fine copper wire
Reads: 4827

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