Paul Richardson highlights in a snap shot, the flies you should be using when out on the water this month.
Rather than using a random selection of flies based on what you fancy, use this simple advice to select flies based on key entomology factors & fish behaviour at this time of year!
For VIDEO advice on fishing methods and to view the fly "click" on the fly name, the video thumbnail or scroll down to the pictures below and click upon them.
All flies are available individually, as a loose selection pack or a boxed selection.
This pattern imitates what is perhaps one of the best-known flies in the world, the Ephemera Danica, better known as the Mayfly. The Mayfly is the largest up-winged fly that can be found in the UK, and its presence in the later part of this month is awaited with great anticipation… Not only by us anglers but also the hungry Trout, whom below the surface prepare themselves for a feast, gorging on this protein rich bonanza.
Fully winged adults emerge from the water with one sole purpose, to find a mate and breed, during their day-long adult life they don’t even feed such is the intensity of their task. As the flies begin to hatch and search for a mate, this is without doubt the most prolific time to use a dun imitation pattern such as this.
A Mayfly often lands on the water at will, as unlike the Hawthorn fly (mentioned below) they possess the strength and power to escape. So casts with a slow figure of eight retrieve can often be very successful, matching the movement of Mayfly’s as they fight with the surface tension to become air born once more – a key time for a Trout to strike.
Best fished: From late morning to early evening, until the adults start to die and become spent spinners. Tactics during this feast become less important, as fish gorge themselves, but light tippets and well presented flies will always do the business on the bigger, wiser fish!
The Hawthorn fly, is not actually a water born insect like many of the insects we bio-mimic in fly fishing, it is a wind-swept terrestrial. Surviving in the surrounding hedgerows, it comes as no surprise that it’s preferred home is the hawthorn bush.
Easily identified by their low hanging, long black legs they are rather cumbersome and lethargic in flight, so stiff breeze usually means the end of the road for these insects as they make contact with the surface of the water, unable to escape. Soon after hitting the water these flies drown, as they just do not have the strength to escape the tension of the surface film, so when fished on a floating line takes can be fast and furious.
My preferred Hawthorn imitation pattern would always be a dryfly and include a foam body such as this, to help with continued floatation throughout the day, take after take.
Best fished: Always fish this pattern with a leader as long as you dare for the ultimate in stealthy presentation. Fish this method static on the surface of the water with a fully degreased leader, introduce the odd twitch to the fly every 30 seconds, to represent the natural counterpart’s last pulses of life.
Sink rate: 0.5”/second ~ 2”/second
Prior to becoming the majestic, fully winged adult Mayfly, this insect begins it life in silt beds of rivers and lakes, where it hatches from an egg laid by its mother. These silty bottoms remain the nypmhs’ home for a staggering 2 years, feeding on aquatic plants and algae. Until one bright sunny day usually between the middle of May and the end of June, the nymph makes it’s final swim, up to the surface of the water.
As it does so, an abundance of fellow nymphs follow, and a feeding feast below the waves ensues as the ever watchful Trout take out any larvae swept away by the currents.
A word or two of warning: the earlier part of the day – which is often unfished in Mayfly season can be incredibly prolific – ignore it at your peril. This is the period where this fly can be dynamite!
Best fished: On an intermediate line (or sink tip on a river) fishing upstream or across wind, allowing the natural movement of the water to do most of the work. Keep in contact with your fly at all time, reducing drag and minimising slack line. Takes will be swift and felt deep up the rod.
Gold Ribbed Hares Ear
The Gold Ribbed Hares Ear, is a timeless fly and being brutally honest there is no rules for when, or when not to use this fly. It is a fish catcher and produces fish all year round, but, in my view it is exceptional when many different varieties of flies are hatching around you, and the month of May is definitely a hatch month.
As water temperatures begin to rise following our brutally cold spring, the aquatic larvae beneath the surface should now begin to wake up and start thinking about a world outside of the water.
As a plethora of different species of nymphs inhabit the rivers and lake beds of the UK’s waters the GRHE pattern is a direct imitation of none, however, it is a good imitation of many – and this is the secret to its success.
Best fished: On long line with a well degreased leader, as this is not a heavy fly meaning it almost hovers in the water. Count the fly down and begin your figure of eight retrieve, introducing a slow long pull every 10’ or so, just to lift the nymph pattern up through the water column. As the fly sinks back towards the lake bed this is a key taking point, so be ready!
Sink rate: 3”/second ~ 7’/second
A Vibrator pattern that is without doubt rather obscure for this time of year, as Daddy long-legs do not start featuring until usually the end of the summer. However, my reasoning behind this is simple, this fly offers up a rare treat it’s a fly I struggle to define as either a natural pattern or a lure and such flies always bode well when out on Stillwaters filled with recent stockies.
The natural aspects of this fly, such as the colours and feathered hackle, add a ‘realness’ to this pattern. Whilst in contrast, the long dangling rubber legs, entice the fish in with their movement, swaying under water offering more of a lure like action to this fish weapon.
Stocked fisheries are usually up to capacity now with plenty of fish beginning to settle into their environment, having already seen many of the bright offerings put in front of them for the last few months. This fly strikes the balance well, performing not too dis-similar to a lure but with a real natural attraction.
Best fished: As this fly features a large goldhead, this fly is often best used as the point fly in a team of 3 or 4 flies, however it will work incredibly well in isolation. Due to it’s all round appearance this also means in can be fished using every retrieve in the book, highlighting the versatility of this pattern.
Sunburst Blob – WILDCARD FLY
The Blob is arguably the UK’s most deadly, Stillwater Trout pattern of the 21st century. It is incredible to think that something that bears absolutely no representation whatsoever to anything in the natural world can be so successful – but it is!
Many believe a Blob fly has the capacity to exhibit some similarities of Daphnia blooms, however, when fished in such a luminosity of colours it is hard to see truth in this. I actually believe the Blob fly is something so alien to this underwater world that an inquisitive Trout just has to take a closer look. In taking a closer look it still cannot define its mesmerising whereabouts, so the Trout activates one of it’s senses - Taste. Without the ability to touch and feel it has no other option but to mouth the fly and we all know what this means – a solid take!
Either way, like it or loathe it, the success of the Blob cannot be ignored and despite the timing of the year along with the abundance of natural life that is surrounding the resident fish, this fly always has the ability to catch a fish or raise an inquisitive Trout hence forth why I have chosen to include this fly as my wildcard selection
Best fished: As the Blob is a fly which does not promote a lot of action through it’s materials, I like to put as much action into the fly as possible. Using short, sharp twitches to prompt a take. However, an equally successful retrieve is a slow figure of eight motion which can certainly develop hard takes.