B.C. Boat and Sportsmen's Show
The Hemoglobin Emerger
By Alex Henry

I am sitting in a bar in Ireland talking to a member of the English national fly fishing team. This English angler is good, he is very good. I had fished with him two days before and he had used techniques that I had never imagined possible.

Of course I know the "hand twist" retrieve. It is a basic and important component of my stillwater repertoire, but Jeremy the Englishman had taken the hand twist to a new level.

I was awe struck as I watched him retrieve his fly with superhuman speed. Like, so fast you could only see his hand down to the wrist, below that it all became a blur. While my flies pulled erratically under the surface his skated and dances along the top. I watched as he landed trout after trout on the same flies I was using but with a retrieve that was physically impossible for me to duplicate.

Later that day I said, "Jeremy, how did you learn that" and he replied; "I retrieve fly line all day while at work and also in the evenings while I watch tele." This guy was serious! I wondered if his hand stopped moving while he slept. After that episode and several other grossly humbling demonstrations of his skill, I knew this chap had information that I very badly wanted. So it was when I saw him hoisting a pint in the pub two days latter, I approached with a colonial lack of formality and said, "Jeremy, we need to talk.

Sitting at the ancient oak table, marked by a thousand spilled drinks and rough farmers hands, our conversation ranged across the breadth of fly fishing, past the present. Whenever I could steer the conversation back to stillwater fly fishing, I did; knowing that the English are the best in the world and knowing that Jeremy is the best of the English.

We covered too much ground to recount here and indeed some of what I learned could not be tortured out of me, but one thing in particular struck me as being a very useful bit of information for British Columbia anglers. That was, as Jeremy said; "When a chironomid hatches, you see, his body briefly flushes with hemoglobin and so no matter what color the pupae is it will appear to be a deep burgundy."

The importance of this statement did not strike me immediately, but nothing was lost to my memory as I knew I was party to treasures of angling wisdom.

Months later I was fishing a favorite B.C. lake. It was a drizzling, cold spring day and there was a thin veil of mist close to the water's surface. The lake was a broad, week margined oval and at both ends of the oval little rises filled the bays: Dimpling rises that were scarcely larger than the raindrops that fell in a measured way from the gray sky.

There were lots of fish working and I knew they were on chironomid pupae, of which I carry a broad selection of imitations in all sorts of colors and sizes. I started the day full of confidence that one of my many patterns would be the one. Every few casts I changed flies with a growing sense of futility. Twenty fly changes later found me floating aimlessly among the still rising trout, numb with frustration.

On the way home my mind was in "after burner" mode, speculation raged in my brain as I drove through the rain, defroster and heater on full, sipping a strong coffee.

About half way home I smiled that deep smile of satisfaction that one smiles when all the pieces of a grand puzzle fall into place and you know beyond the faintest doubt that you have solved the problem.

Upon returning to the lake a week later the weather had improved. It was overcast but there was no rain and the dimples could be seen at each end of the lake were undoubtedly rising fish. I finned into position carefully and then stopped to add three feet of 5x tippet to my leader and tie on the secret weapon, a small number 16 chironomid pupae pattern, similar to all the others in my box but different in one respect. It was a deep burgundy.....the color of hemoglobin. I watched the first fish for several seconds as he gently rose to the emergers. Each time the rise was an almost but not quite perfect circle. One edge of the circle "bulged" a little with the momentum of the fish's movement and by reading this I could tell the trout would pass from right to left about 60 feet in front of me.

The rises were regularly spaced and so I led him by the spacing of his last two rises, about ten feet. The fly turned over well and the leader melted into the surface film as it should.

Time stopped for about three seconds as I concentrated on the spot where I knew my invisible fly hung suspended from the surface film. And....he rose again right were the fly was and I tightened just enough to let the delicate leader become taught and then let go as a fine twenty inch rainbow went skyward in a moment of shock and surprise.

As I landed my tenth fish I knew that the trout were not taking the fly out of coincidence but were genuinely fooled, and my thoughts turned to that little comment Jeremy had made in a pub in Ireland, "When a chironomid hatches, you see," he said.

Looking across the lake I saw that an angler who had been watching me for some time was now paddling my way with the deliberately nonchalant attitude that tells you he is about to say, "If you don't mind me asking, I was wondering what fly you are using.....?"

The Hemoglobin Emerger is an easy fly to tie.

Hook: 9672 or equivalent #10-12

Thread: Black 8/0

Abdomen: Five strands of burgundy Marabou

Thorax: Two strands of Peacock Hearl

Begin by attaching your thread one third of the shank length behind the eye of the hook. Tie down a small clump of burgundy Marabou fibers by the tips. Wind back over the tips towards the hood bend and stop above the barb. Wind the thread forward to the tie in point, then wind the Marabou around the hook forward to the tie in point. (1/3 the shank length behind the eye.) Tie in two strands a peacock herl or ostrich herl and wind forward to the eye. Tie down the herl and whip finish. As an option you can rib the body with monofilament or fine silver wire to give it more durability.

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