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B.C. Boat and Sportsmen's Show
Early Season Fly Patterns

By Peter McPherson

So, April is here and the interior lakes are starting to ice-off. Soon the flyfishing season will emerge in full. Every year I swear I will be more prepared for the next season. Now, after prodding through my fly boxes, it is obvious that only after a few nights of fly-tying binging could I even hope to fill up the bare spots in my fly selection. With limited time available it is the wisest choice to tie-up those tried, tested and true patterns which year after year prove effective in early season waters.

In my experience, a small chironomid fished in the shallows along last years reed stubble will often produce. Tied on a #16 or #14 hook, using black frostbite or stretch floss for a body with fine silver or red wire rib, this basic pattern is a mainstay. A small tungsten bead-head will ensure that your fly will get down. A couple wraps of .010 lead in the thorax also works well.

Another good pattern for “stubble fishing” is nick-named “Freddies Special” and is simple but effective. Tied on a #12, 2X hook, the body is made with peacock herl. Silver or red wire ribbing. The “wing” is only a few fibers of soft pheasant rump tied the same length of the body. A very sparse fly when tied properly, it works great.

A small leech pattern is essential when things are slow, as is common in temperamental early season. My favorite leech is a burgundy woolly bugger, tied smaller than “typical”, I call it the “mini bugger”. Use a #12,10, 2X hook, tying on a marabou tail no longer than the distance between the hook eye and hook point. The body is made with burgundy/wine chenille(s) and has a copper cross ribbing. A saddle hackle (size appropriate) is palmered over the entire body with a couple extra wraps at the head. Note that if you weight the hook near the eye with 6’8 wraps of .015 lead prior to tying, it will greatly improve the swimming action of the fly.

It is common to have some intense surface feeding on emergent chironomid and at these times, using an unweighted chironomid fished in the surface film or slightly sub-surface will produce. If your efforts go without attention my favored pattern is a “Griffith’s Gnat”. This simple pattern is tied on a #18, 16 fine wire hook and has a peacock herl body over which “dry fly” quality (#1 or select) grizzly saddle hackle is wrapped. This fuzzy little pattern sits delicately on the surface when dressed with floatant. For those finicky surface feeders, this fly is my most successful choice.

Fly patterns...there are thousands to choose from. A few basic patterns such as described will get you into fish for the first part of early season. As the weather warms so will the waters. As the aquatic environment livens up with shrimp, mayflies, damselflies, dragon flies and sedges, you will find yourself once again at the fly vise or at the fly counter.

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