Fly Friday #170 The Hawthorn and The Black gnat by Joe Stitt

This week's Fly Friday comes from PRO-Team member Joe Stitt and it's The Black Gnat and The Hawthorn...

Saint Marks day is on 25th April and should be noted on the angler’s calendar, two flies appear around this time, both of which usually promote a rise of trout when they land on the lake or river. Through the fishing season certain flies emerge on the water or are blown on which have an immediate impact on the trout’s feeding pattern. To mention a couple we may look at Caenis in late May /June, fish rarely ignore them or a fall of ants on the water in high summer even spent gnat in May evenings. Going back to the subject, the hawthorn fly called St Marks fly probably because it appears around St Marks day. These are easy recognised by the long trailing legs. The other fly around the same time are the black gnats, either of these flies can stir the trout as soon as they appear on the water, the hawthorn (Bibio Marci) is terrestrial and on windy day can be blown on the surface in enough numbers to encourage the trout, the Black gnat (Bibio Johannis) is supposedly a terrestrial fly of  the Diptera genus order known as flat wing flies. Over the years I have come to believe that simple dressings can be very effective in fooling the trout, with that in mind I will offer my two patterns which I use for Hawthorn and Black gnat fishing on river or lake.

First step is to insert a lady’s hat pin in the vice and coat the point side with a soft wax. Tie in 3 turns of black tying thread.


Next cut a strip of black polystyrene strip around 2/3 mm wide, tie in on the point side of the pin with 3 turns of black thread each on top of other to make a rib or segment. Then lift the polystyrene take one wrap of thread around the pin then form the second segment making sure to leave the tag end of the thread as shown in the photo (note the thread below the pin). Repeat this process to form 4 segments then whip finish the last on nearest the vice side of the pin. At this stage remove the detached body from the pin using a gentle twisting motion, when the body is removed hold in one hand using the other to pull the tag end of the tying thread until the slack thread is removed from the inside of the body


Place hook in the vice and tie in the body as shown, next dub a small amount of black fine dubbing, next tie in black knotted pheasant tail fibres the, best hook for the pattern is size 14 Partridge K4AY-SE.


Tie in two blue dun cock neck hackle points as wings as shown making sure to leave enough space in front to tie in the hackle which is genetic cock hackle either neck or saddle type.


Tie in and wind the front hackle as shown, whip finish and remove surplus thread the fly is ready to fish. This a very successful pattern for me and legs can be made with pheasant tail knotted fibres dyed blood red in August to imitate the Heather fly



Size 20 SLD2 Partridge standard dry fly hook


Black unithread 8/0 tied from half way along hook shank to the bend and back repeat this to form the body of the fly


Tie in two plumes of CDC, dark dun in colour with tips reaching around the back of the bend of the hook


Tie in a black genetic neck or saddle hackle in front of wing I generally use about 3 to 4 turns, whip finish and cut away surplice thread when this is placed on the water during a fall of black gnat in late April or again in August the trout regularly take them for me.  The two patterns are relatively simple to tie, and I find them as my go to patterns for hawthorn fly, heather fly and black gnat. The black gnat pattern works all season when fish take midge or reed smut flies.

Tight lines and best wishes for 2018 season