John Nurge, nails this fine 24 incher wet fly fishing with a DW Daddy fly _ Davy Wotton image
August despite the days of high heat, both l and my fisherman experienced some awesome days on there on the river, frequent days of 50 to 80 fish, many fine browns from 16 to 24 ins and a number of class bows from BSD. Many methods working depending on location l chose to fish and what we chose to do which could be dries, wet fly and nymph, all be it wet fly techniques and nymph generally proved to be the better for the larger fish. COE also for the most part favored us with good generations, lower tail water flows and later in the day high water flows which was good when we took out at lower levels and motored back to the dam. It all matters at the end of the day.
Now l am frequently asked about my White tail midge history so here it is.
Back when l lived in the UK l was a serious competitive fly fisher, fished at International level for my country Wales and many other events that were hosted in the EU. Back in those days 60/70/80s to some extent what we know now was not, in many cases it was still the order of fishing the traditional wet fly as that was what was generally accepted as the way to go. That said during this time stillwater flyfishing began a serious advance so far as use of more imitative fly patterns representing the natural food sources which in the case of stillwaters was primarily chironomids also called Buzzers in EU. That also brought about many new techniques using very long leaders and different fly lines, dry, intermediate, sink and full sink lines to enable the flies to be fished at the depth the fish were cruising.
That said there were early imitations for chironomids, the best known at the time called Bells Buzzer, a very simple fly, floss body, silver rib, a tuft of white hackle at the head and a ugly thorax of peacock herl. It worked but not as good as many of the newer patterns that followed.
In those days aside from selling fly materials l also tied flies commercially, about 60 to 70,000 a year. I also had innovation in so far as developing new fly patterns, many of which are still around to day and produced by other commercials sources.
Some of my early chironomids incorporated Peasalls silk bodies of different colors over wound with poly taken from bread bags, other options were added such as wing pads and breathing filaments. After reading a book by my late friend John Goddard who wrote in my opinion the best publication to date related to UK stillwater food sources it came to my attention that the means by which a chironomid moved was by thrashing its tail filaments. Its Caudal fin. That inspired me to add a small tail of white marabou which had great movement, thus the white tail midge was born back in the 80s.And what a success it was for me on the competition scene. And that was way before the days of bead heads.
I fished the White and Norfork rivers often before l chose to live here and had at times messed around fishing WTMs with good success. Subsequently l later refined my patterns to suit our waters with newer materials, not to mention adding bead heads., all be it there will be times l use the flies without beads heads.
That said there are times that it is important to closely match the hatch, that said overall so far as these rivers that is generally not the case. I can guarantee that if you carry a range of the different WTM patterns you cannot fail to catch fish assuming you rig the system right, which is correct relationship from your indicator for the water depth, and you use both choice of size and color to suit the conditions.
In fact l would go so far as to say it is the number one fly to consistently catch fish on the AR tailwaters, as it has also proved to be the case from many other rivers from East to West.
In recent months l also introduced two new versions, the Red head White tail and the Red head hares ear white tail, both of which have great success both for trophy Browns and scores of Bows. Typically l rig a 2 fly system to 5x, normally a size 14 and 16 as often the fish will favor size or color. Or in the case of lower flows l may go with a size 16 and 18 or a pair of 18s. But once again always experience prevails when it comes to catching fish, right !
Ian Cooper with a fine 22 ins BSD bow which took a Red Head hares ear size 16.
The current range of WTMs includes. sizes 14/16/18 Bead heads would include, Silver/Nickel/Gold/Red/Copper
1. Black WT
2. Red WT
3 Black and pearl
4. Black and silver
5. Crystal WT
6. Red head black WT
7. Red head Hares ear WT
8. Copper gold WT
9. Super midge WT
10. Orange silver WT.
Bill Wegrzyn with one of the trophy browns he caught that took the red head black white tail.
Many anglers are somewhat confused about what is a wet fly, in my book its simply not a fly that sinks, it is a definite tradition so far as the pattern of that fly, many of which go way back to the early 1800s in the UK from whence wet fly fishing has its roots, which was same also in my case when l learned how to fly fish, it was with winged wet flies, which are deadly if you know what fly to choose and how to present them under the prevailing conditions.
Such flies with names such as the Invicta, Wickhams, Hares ear, March brown, BWO, Iron Blue dun, Watsons and Freemans Fancy, Dunkeld, Butcher, to name a few. For many fishing soft hackles or wet fly is simply a means of casting across stream and stripping the flies back, granted it will catch some fish but there will also be 100s you will not catch by that means of presentation, there is far more to the relative skills of wet fly fishing than simply that which is generally the easiest approach. One has to learn all the methods of presentation from dead drift upstream to up and across and down and do so by controlling the flies dead drift with at times animation. It is a high level skill make no mistake about that. That also requires the use of different fly lines and in some case very long leader systems as much as 18ft at times, with 2 to 4 flies mounted on detached droppers. Long rods are mandatory, there is no way you can fish many of these methods with short rods, it cannot be done, period. Ideal is at least 10ft if not 11, 3wt at times, 4 being overall best.
I will tell you this that White river Browns, can hardly resist a well animated top dropper, they nail it.
Now looking forward to the fall when those Browns really start to turn on.
Tight lines all.