The Guides Choice by Stevie Munn

It’s the time of year for restocking your fly boxes, so over the next few weeks and months that’s what I am planning to do. These will be a mixture of flies with some new and some old favourites, as I still like to use at times traditional patterns, part of this is maybe my love of the history of old flies and if you’re not a historian, something to consider these patterns did not become old without being great fish catchers. I will also have quite a few new patterns that I like fishing in my box and some variants of patterns, so hopefully interesting for everyone.

My fishing season is normally consisting of mostly river trout fishing, as this is probably my first love and it’s also what I do most throughout the year, as I live close to a trout stream that I have fished all my life and guided on now for over 20 years, The Sixmile Water in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. This river has a good head of wild brown trout, but also from late summer on gets a run of migratory fish, some Salmon and importantly a Lough run trout from Lough Neagh which is famous in my part of the world called the Dollaghan. These can grow very large, my biggest to date is a fish of around 17lb. There are various ways we fish for these fish heavy nymphs work during the day as do traditional wet fly patterns and in the evening and into the night, tactics like sea trout fishing is used. So, over the season I will also dress flies to target these fish also. 

I will additionally show you some Lough files as this is something I enjoy and have done for many years and even a few flies from my hosted trips to places like Norway, Iceland, Canada and Argentina.

Ok so let’s make a start the first flies I will dress will be one I will see hopefully in early March. The early part of the season is often hard but if you are very lucky you will get a hatch of Baetis rhodani, the Large Dark Olive (LDOs), and if this happens the sport for a few hours can be good. This is an insect of flowing water, and it can live in steep stony streams as well as in weed-rich chalk streams; the adults can be seen during the cold months of late autumn, winter and early spring, when few other flies are about.

Being there at the right time.
Try and time yourself to be on the river at the warmest part of the day. I normally aim to get to the river about 11.30am, as I know that my best time for a hatch which should be from 12pm until about 2.30pm maybe 3.30pm on a milder day, this is on my local river them. I sometimes call this ‘the trout’s opening hours’, so you would think that’s it, it’s easy just turn up at the right time and bingo you’re in. One problem can be LDOs can at times be slightly unpredictable and often localised. So, the angler’s problem is do you stick with a place you know has worked in the past hoping it’s going to happen or do you go looking on other stretches of the river, which can be time consuming in your short window, but there may be a hatch and trout are feeding on them. Normally I try about three hot spots I know and hope that one of them pays dividends and if one is going ok I stay in that area and try to make the most of it.

The dry fly is my favourite way to fish but if you don’t get a hatch of Large Dark Olive, it can be very hard, and you may be better using the wet fly, a streamer or probably even more productive fishing with nymphs depending on your water conditions of course. A good nymph for imitating LDOs is a Pheasant Tail Nymph. But sometimes this time of the of year you need to get down deep as the trout can be hard on the bottom this is when nymphing with heavy flies can produce and in the last few years tungsten-beaded flies have become a revelation getting you down to the fish, when they are not feeding on the top. These heavy flies in different sizes can work very well fished on a dead drift, in Czech or French nymphing style or in smaller rivers with less flow cast upstream and try and keep in touch with your fly line.

Dark Olive Quill (Stevie Munn)
Silk. Semperfli Nano Silk Copper.
Hook. Partridge Ideal Standard Dry SUD2 or Dry Fly Supreme L5A in sizes 16-12
Tail. Coq de Leon or a few hackle fibers
Body. Peacock Stripped Quill Olive.
Wing. CDC.
Hackle. Dark Olive. (sometimes I use natural red that works well on my local river)

Para Dark Olive Quill (Stevie Munn)
Silk. Semperfli Nano Silk Copper.
Hook. Partridge Ideal Standard Dry SUD2 or Dry Fly Supreme L5A in sizes 16-12
Tail. Coq de Leon or a few hackle fibers.
Body. Peacock Stripped Quill Olive.
Wing Post. CDC.
Thorax. Dark olive fine dubbing or brown fine dubbing.
Hackle. Dark Olive. (sometimes I use natural red that works well on my local river)

The two patterns I have listed above work well for me. I use the para version on slow parts of the river where the trout have more time to look at your fly and the normal hackled type on faster parts of the river, just easier for me to see, when you get to my age and unfortunately your eyes are not as sharp as they once were. Here is a couple of trout I had on these patterns last season.

    

Dry fly is one of the most enjoyable forms of fly fishing and perhaps still my favourite method. There is nothing better than fishing the dry fly on a river watching trout rise to your fly it’s exciting, beautiful and visual what could be better when the cast the rise and the trout take what could be better. Tight lines for 2018. 

Info
Fishing Matters Game Angling Consultant Stevie Munn works full time in angling as a qualified and insured fishing guide, writer and game angling instructor. He has also appeared in many angling books, magazines and DVDs and gives casting demonstrations at angling events all over the world. He has fished many places in the world and grew up fishing on rivers and loughs of Ireland where he often guides. He runs teaching courses in Ireland and host groups to fish in Norway, Argentina and other parts of the world. You can contact him via email anglingclassics@aol.com and for more information visit www.anglingclassics.co.uk