Basic Fly Patterns 1

by Mike Hughes

x TRM Daily Report 6 August 2009:

We are fortunate to post a local fishing guide’s contribution today on a subject many anglers have neglected – we will post these in a series of five each Wednesday starting 6  August:

Hi Guy’s

Something a little different over the next few weeks…it’s a little project that Andrew and I have talked about for sometime now and we hope it may be of some help…especially to those relatively new to this wonderful sport of ours…..what to tie onto the end of your line. There is a bewildering array of flies available to today’s fly-fisherman so we are going to attempt to simplify things to just half a dozen or so patterns which should get you catching in most situations. I know many anglers who have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the life-forms in our rivers that we attempt to imitate with our bits of fur, feather and tinsels….I have nothing but admiration for them …unfortunately I’m not one of them and prefer to observe what I can see under the stomach of a trout…or I’ll even use photographs if I’m trying to copy a particular insect when tying a fly. We’ll start this week with probably the most prolific and important food item in a trout’s diet…..the Caddis.
The Caddis or Sedge as it’s known in many parts of the world is an  almost moth-like insect and trout will feed on them avidly throughout their life cycle.Once they have hatched from the egg they are known as larvae and are bottom dwellers…common colors are olive through to creams. Some are free swimming and others encase themselves in a sort of tube made up of tiny twigs, sand or gravel . When I was a boy in Wales we used to collect these extract the grub and use a couple of them impaled live on our hooks…the fish used to love them. Later they are known as pupae…we fisho’s call them emergers and lastly once they have reached the surface…the adult stage… when they are ready to fly from the water to mate… later to return to lay their eggs and start the life cycle all over again. From an angling point of view a “must have” in any fly -box.

All of the commercially tied patterns available will catch fish, although many of them actually look nothing like the natural…you can buy them with or with out different color beads  so carry a selection of Caddis larvae in sizes 18 – 12’s and in colors Olive, Green, Cream there are other colors but this will do to start. Also some emerger patterns in sizes 18 to 14 these can be fished under a dry fly or even on a dropper a meter or so above your bomb when nymphing …both methods imitate them swimming to the surface.

Lastly the adult stage as a dry fly in sizes 14 to 12 .Some of the well known patterns here are the Goddard Sedge, Bucktail Sedge etc but there are many more. Next time we’ll look at a couple of nymphs…..probably the two most famous in the world of fly-fishing.


Just had a look in one of my boxes I think I should start taking my own advice…..”half a dozen patterns”….they can’t all be mine.

Tight Lines Guys

13 August Daily Report:

Hi Guys

pop11236x1246-large This week two of the most famous nymphs in the world of fly-fishing – the pheasant tail and the hare’s ear.

The pheasant tail nymph was invented in the 1950’s by Frank Sawyer MBE who was a River-Keeper on the Avon river in Wiltshire England.  The original {and some still maintain the best version} is tied without using any thread…in fact there are only two materials used…very fine copper wire and fibers from the centre of a cock pheasant tail.

Very few anglers today carry the original pattern, preferring instead a selection of the many variants tied using modern materials that have appeared over the last 50 years.

It is a generic pattern so doesn’t really represent anything specific but was originally invented to imitate a number of species of the Baetis family which in the UK are known as “Olives.”


Carry a selection of sizes 10 – 18 the larger ones incorporating Tungsten or Gold beads make excellent bombs and are quite often taken by trout.

In New Zealand it will effectively imitate a number of the mayfly family which hatch throughout summer or even on milder autumn or winter days.

So a very useful addition to any flybox.


Next the Hare’s Ear…

Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear…

Hare and Copper…

Different tying methods and materials but basically the same nymph and probably one of the oldest and most often used nymphs.

Again it doesn’t represent a specific species but in it’s various sizes can be used to imitate caddis, mayflies, stoneflies… the list goes on and on.


Like the Pheasant Tail there are hundreds and hundreds of variants and I doubt if there is a fly-tier any where in the world who hasn’t come up with his own version.

Carry a selection of sizes again with and without weight or beads and again the bigger heavier versions make excellent bombs… although their buggy look does make them a little more buoyant.


Next time we’ll have a closer look at Mayflies.

Tight Lines



August 20th, 2009


Hi Guy’s,

This week we are going to look at Mayflies and this is probably going to be the most difficult to simplify.

Basically there are three families of Mayfly in New Zealand but all of them are divided into sub-species….but we are not going to go there.


Generally they are easily distinguished by their three long tail filaments and up-right wings.

From a fisho point of view we are interested in the nymphal stage….the emerger….and the adult …although it is a little more complicated than that.

If you are motivated to find out more then please refer to the many excellent books written by far better qualified people than me on the subject.


In the nymphal stage the lighter dressed versions of the Pheasant Tail or Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear are perfectly adequate imitations but any skinny tied pattern will suffice in most situations.

Being a Welsh/Kiwi I’m quite fond of a nymph called the Diawl Bach…{ Dee Owl Bach } that’s “bach” like the composer  not as some Kiwi’s have pronounced it….bloody Dial a Batch – which translates as ” little devil ” and I always carry a few different variations in the box.


On the journey to the surface the emerger transforms into something called a sub-imago… we fisho’s call it   a “dun” which has wings and looks almost like the adult but is generally smaller and duller in color.

When it’s resting on the surface before it’s final transformation it becomes a prime target for the waiting trout below.

It then flies off the water to nearby foliage to undergo the last change to the imago {adult}….we call it the “spinner.”


In it’s final stages it has no mouth parts….one of the reasons it’s life is so short-lived.

Clouds of these adult Mayflies can be seen mating above the water before they fall exhausted to the surface to again become a welcome meal for any passing trout.

There are dozens of emerger patterns and any of the  tackle stores in the Taupo and Turangi area will point you in the right direction.


Dry-fly wise {Adult} “Twilight  Beauty”…”Parachute Adams”…”Dads Favorite” and” Kakahi Queen” will all do the job.

Again carry all of them in various sizes and colors  to match the hatch.

One thing to look out for.. when trout are rising to mayfly they are not always feeding on the adult and are quite often taking the emerger just under the surface.

Phew ! glad that one is out of the way…just hope it makes some kind of sense.

Tight Lines