Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Spotted Sedge - Tan
    The first time I met a spotted sedge emergence on the upper Columbia, as a young flyfisher, on a late June evening, I was overwhelmed with the enormity of it, the emerging sedge like rain on the big water of the American Reach; the backs & tails of feeding trout showing with unnerving regularity up & down the seams & eddy lines. I went straight to a dryfly, an elk-winged caddis type, the only thing I carried to imitate adult sedge, at the time. A bunch of casts & a couple of swirling snubs forced me into a fly-choice dilemma. I was more of a minimalist in those days, without much to choose from in my flybox. I clipped off the dry & opted for one of the mainstays, a soft-hackle Hare’s Ear Nymph tied with ruffed grouse hackle. The sun shines on a happy fool; & the little nymph turned the trick swung down the feed lanes. Proving again: it is hard to beat the effectiveness & utility of hare’s mask as a dubbing material; & also the importance of carrying & fishing flies that simulate the emerging stage of an insect.

Spotted Sedge - Brown

 The simple version I tied as a kid is still a decent one for fishing over spotted sedge. But I’ve found it true of all abundant & long-lasting hatches: that the trout’s preference to a pattern meant for that insect will vary from location to location, & one might encounter a daily preference on the same water, in the same location. I’m sure there are a lot of nuanced reasons for this that might be explained if trout could talk to us, though I’m fairly certain light is one factor. Whatever the reason, there is no be-all-end-all, so I carry a variety of patterns to simulate emerging spotted sedge pupae, & versions tied with hare’s mask are still a reliable mainstay.
Spotted Sedge - Olive

In the Pacific Northwest, spotted sedge (Hydropsyche) follow grannom sedge, juxtaposing with grannom hatches toward the end of June, & emerging into August in my region, where they are more abundant than grannom, which many anglers mistake them for, as the adults are nearly identical & the same imitations work for both. But unlike the case-building grannom which generally emerges from fairly shallow water, the spotted sedge is a ‘naked’ caddis, the larvae building houses of silk attached to stones on the stream bottom, & emerging from deeper water & drifting longer than grannom, making an abundance of emerging pupae vulnerable & available to trout. On my homewater, grannom provides sporadic hatches over about a month-long period; while spotted sedge come off in numbers enough to get fish up & feeding pretty much every day during a better than two-month emergence season. Spotted sedge are extremely prolific in the Columbia drainage, & probably one of the most important hatches to anglers fishing the larger rivers of the region. Pupae uniformly share a reddish-brown coloration about the thorax & head, with very dark brown to black wing holsters, & reddish-brown the predominant abdomen coloration, yet also shades of cream & tan, & many individuals exhibiting an olive tinge or outright olive coloration over the abdomen, as in grannom. With such a variety displayed within a population, abdomen color is not critical (though there is a decided preference for one over another, it seems, some evenings). Tied with an olive abdomen, the same pattern will fish for both spotted sedge & grannom, as well as a number of similar caddis species. The olive variant is one of my favorites for meeting spotted sedge, as it is a color occurring in some of the naturals, though not the dominant coloration, so it stands out some, which I like to think is an advantage.

I’ve already posted several versions of patterns I use for spotted sedge, yet as they are such an important hatch, I’ll make a series of posts following this one, featuring some of the patterns that work for me.

Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Hook:  #14 Daiichi 1150        

Thread: Camel

Rib: Copper wire, wound over the abdomen

Abdomen: I tie three variants: light-tan, mahogany-brown or dirty-olive hare’s mask, usually taken from the cheek of a natural mask, or rabbit

Thorax: Two turns of dark-brown (mix in a bit of black) hare’s mask with guard hairs in

Hackle: Brahma hen (brown partridge or grouse can be substituted)

Head: Reddish-brown (chestnut/mahogany/dark ginger) hare’s mask with guard hairs, about four turns in a dubbing loop of the tying thread – actually a continuation of the thorax ahead of the hackle – & finish.

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bunny Grannom Pupa ~ Soft-Hackle Variations

     On many streams grannom caddis (Brachycentrus) are the first reliable hatch of the season. On some, this insect might be the most productive hatch of the year. In NE Washington state, grannom usually start to appear toward the end of April & emerge well into June & sometimes July, the strongest emergence usually around the end of May. Of the several species of caddis that are important hatches in my neighborhood, grannom spurs the best dryfly action, & that possibly due to their habit of migrating to & emerging from shallow water, where the pupae emerge swiftly, often times forcing trout to fill the void with the more prolific adult egg-layers, which are coincident. Nonetheless, trout prefer the wingless pupae & will eat them readily when an opportunity arises. In in my own experience, the emerging pupa is the most productive stage of grannom to imitate & fish. 

Nymphs will generally be #12-#14; & the pattern given here, tied in #10-#18 will cover a lot of caddis species besides grannom, East & West. I use this same pattern to cover spotted sedge, a more prolific & longer-lasting caddis than grannom, on my homewater. Tied in a #10 this one will cover great gray spotted sedge, & also the lake-dwelling traveling sedge. I think this version represents a fundamental soft-hackle sedge design that will turn the trick as well as any I’ve tried.

Because trout always show a preference, it is good to carry more than one version of grannom. I use the same basic tie, which gives me the profile I think simulates the pupa well, & then apply several different abdomen materials to that basic tie.    

Bunny Grannom Pupa

Hook: #12-#14 Daiichi 1150 caddis style

Thread: Camel or brown

Rib: Round silver tinsel – I use size D metallic rod wrapping thread, five turns over the abdomen

Abdomen: Olive rabbit dubbing  (you can add a pinch of chartreuse to brighten it); olive, standard tubing over silver tinsel; green rubber band; clear lace over olive floss or yarn 

Thorax: Light-brown hare’s mask – 2 turns ahead of the abdomen

Hackle: Brahma hen (you can substitute brown partridge or grouse)

Head: Light-brown hare's mask with guard hairs in - about four turns in a dubbing loop of the tying thread, actually a continuation of the thorax - & finish.
Rubber Band Grannom
Clear lace over olive yarn
Tubing over silver floss abdomen

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: