The Season That Never Was

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Well that’s almost the end of another brown trout season. Normally at this point I would be summing up the soft hackle wet flies and flymphs that worked well for me in the lochs during the season. However, this season didn’t go as planned. Not one bit of it…

As anglers we very occasionally have fantastic seasons, when everything just falls into place. Equally, we very occasionally have terrible seasons, when nothing seems to work out. Usually though the vast majority of our seasons tend to lie somewhere in between these two extremes, each with their high points, low points, challenges, trials and tribulations and I wouldn’t have that any other way. This season however, due to an injury, although not too serious, means I am unable to get out flyfishing.  Thankfully this situation is temporary and I will be fishing again next season.

So this time I thought to share the contents of my fly box that I put together last season and which I will take forward with me into next season. After purchasing a new and smaller flybox which will sit in my vest much more comfortably than my old one, I allocated a leaf to store my soft hackle wet flies, soft hackle pheasant tails, my flymphs and a small selection of palmered soft hackle wet flies.

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Flymph Section

The flymph section contains mainly general representations of nymphs, with one or two patterns leaning perhaps more to caddis, olive and chironomid suggestions. Most are tried and tested but there is a section of as yet untested patterns, and all are open to subtle changes in their dressings as new ideas emerge with experience of fishing these patterns. The one thing all these flymphs have in common is their soft hen hackles. Other materials used in their dressings include SLF and rabbit dubbing (bodies), cockerel feathers and pheasant tippet (tails), gold and silver wire and tinsel (bodies and ribs) and dyed partridge (tails). Tied on 12-14 hooks this section is probably my most often used section over the course of a season.

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Palmered Wet Flies Section

The Palmered wet flies section, in contrast to the flymphs section, is my least used one. This may seem strange, given that I fish for brown trout in Scottish lochs and I had planned a bit more experimentation using this type of fly. That said the Bibio and especially the Whickhams had produced a few fish in seasons past, and I have fond memories of the Kate McLaren that produced my first brown trout from a loch on the fly. The fly in the top right of the picture (the grey fly with orange dubbing near the tail) was based on the Grey Monkey sea-trout fly. I thought it may make a good spider type pattern and I simply omitted the wing used in the dressing. It is not a palmered wet fly and doesn’t really belong in this section but I placed it there after tying and forgot to remove it! I will do a post about this fly in the near future.

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Soft Hackle Wet Flies Section

I separated out these soft hackle wet fly patterns from my old box and gave them a section to themselves. In these patterns it is the hackle which dominates the fly and I really wanted to experiment with these soft hackle wet fly patterns this season on the lochs. These patterns also tend to use a soft hen hackle and I find that speckled hen is an excellent substitute for brown partridge, and being not as long in the fibre as partridge, it sits well on the size 14s that I use. The bodies of this selection of soft hackle wet flies is mainly of sparsely dubbed SLF over tying thread.

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Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles Section

The fourth and final leaf of the fly box contains soft hackle pheasant tails. I can’t say how much I was looking forward to using this section of my box this season, but I will have to just wait until the next one! Frustrating for sure! I suspect the trout take these for chironomid or olive pupa, and right at the end of last season they really began working for me so I really wanted to experiment more with this type of pattern throughout this season. I think these soft hackle pheasant tail patterns should do quite well on the lochs. Many of the patterns in this section use a mono rib in addition to the more usual copper wire and utilise either natural or olive pheasant tail fibres. The hen hackles are a variety of shades of olive smoothed back over the bodies with one pattern using a badger hen hackle just for some variety.

So there it is: my fly box for the season that never was. That just reinforces that we shouldn’t simply take it for granted that we will be fishing next season. Life can throw all sorts of unexpected things at us to scupper our plans. So go on, get out fishing – no excuses!

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