Developing new fly patterns – The thought process and testing…
Fish become accustomed to the same lures, and there is no doubt that all patterns lose their effectiveness especially if everyone is using exactly the same fly. You need something to set your fly patterns apart, to induce the fish to take. This is one of the reasons why as a Fulling Mill Ambassador, I’m constantly developing new fly patterns in order to provide anglers with the best flies to catch that memorable fish.
12 months ago I became fed up with follow after follow from large browns to a standard Minkie pattern – I felt that I had to make changes to my patterns that had served me well for the last 10 years, nothing too radical but something that would turn more of these follows into positive takes. And when it comes to it, i generally enjoy messing about at the vice adding new materials and developing new fly patterns to try out.
After many hours of thinking and tying, I finally came up with an updated range of Minkies. Personally I feel the most important aspect is the large realistic epoxy eyes, these are target and trigger points on fry imitations – basically, the eyes can make or break a pattern especially on resident grown on fish.
I added modern materials, a silver and UV straggle fritz body gives a more realistic fish like shimmer – especially on sunny days – it allows the pattern to really stand out without being ‘un-natural’ and scary.
With the winter fast approaching I now have the ideal opportunity to thoroughly test my new patterns. Rutland has seen an explosion of fry and the resident fish are feeding heavily on them especially around the weed beds at the top of the famous South Arm.
I take out a boat and head off into the mist, to the weed beds and feeding trout which have received a great deal of angling pressure over the last week or so – these are no longer easy fish, and will give me a true test of my patterns and angling skills.
I’ve opted for a floating line and a 12ft leader of 10lb Fluorocarbon with a gray suspender Minkie, a pattern that I hope accurately represents the roach fry that are in abundance around the weed beds. I make a cast and leave the fly static for 15 – 20 seconds before a slow figure of eight retrieve, allowing the fly to slightly crease the surface, occasionally I add a short sharp pull attempting to imitate the movements of an injured fish as it struggles near the surface.
I didn’t have to wait long and almost instantly a rainbow of around 3lb sucked in the suspender Minkie as it floated just yards from the weed bed, I lifted into the fish firmly and it instantly took off heading for the middle of the South Arm, unfortunately the hook hold wasn’t good enough and the fish won its battle for freedom – 5 minutes later I was into another rainbow of around 3.5lb this time the hook held firm and a sleek well-mended resident fish was soon in the net.
The sudden commotion seemed to spook the other fish in the area and for the next hour there was a period of inactivity, but I expected this, fish gorging on fry will not feed continually all day, often for just short periods of time you must be ready to take advantage of these short spells of activity and have a fly on that is proven killer.
I savored the moment and watched the grebes working the water, they were also keen to cash in on the fry buffet. It’s a wonderful feeling, the waiting, the anticipation of not knowing when or what you are going to hook next… will it be a 3lb silvered up rainbow or a 10lb grown on brown?
A recent 13lb 10oz Brown Trout caught from Rutland Water on a Perch Fry Imitation
The long build of inactivity intensifies the senses until suddenly all hell breaks lose, a large brown starts crashing into the fry that scatter on my left, any time now I expect a solid take and the suspender Minkie to simply disappear in a large swirl as the large fish returns to pick off the injured fry… despite a number of casts in the correct area nothing. The cool morning air may be deterring this wise old fish from poking his head out of the water. I decide that a sinking pattern may be more effective and quickly tie on my new white & silver Minkie, the movement in this pattern has to be seen to be believed and its undulating action even at slow speeds almost hypnotises me. When developing new fly patterns, it pays to tie as many variants as possible to get the fly ‘just’ right.
When fishing for big fish around obstructions it’s often just Hook ‘N’ Hold… clamp down on the fish and apply the pressure and turn it into water, turning it away from the structure. I’d estimate that 25 % of large fish hooked will be lost but if you use inadequate tackle then the figure will be much higher hence the need for a top quality strong hook such as the Fulling Mill competition heavyweight 31530. I’ve tied this particular fly on the beefy size 8.
I cast along the weed bed and let the water settle, the White & Silver Straggle Minkie slowly falling through the water before I even begin my retrieve the line straightens and I’m into a sizable fish which I manage to turn into the open water, and after a couple of short sharp runs I manage to bully a nice 4 lb brown into the net, a quick photo and he is released to fight again another day – this was not the fish that was moving earlier.
I move 50m further up the weed bed, stopping directly in front of the bird hirude and the well-known deep hole. After just 5 or 6 casts the line again tightens and I lift into a dead weight, the rod buckles over and I feel the unmistakable head shaking from a decent brown as it begins to bore deep, trying desperately to get back to the safety of the weed, I pile on the pressure knowing the hook will not bend out (a common problem with cheap flies) and manoeuvre the fish into clear water, 5 minutes later I slip the net under a magnificent brown of around 6lb.
With the sun starting to rise I decide to call an end to the fishing, I was satisfied that during the short window of opportunity the new patterns had produced the goods.
Still, I wanted to be 100% sure the patterns were effective and passed them out to a number of close friends to also test, as long as they promised to provide some degree of feedback. I needn’t have worried over the next 2 weeks I was constantly pestered for more of the new patterns – I was now convinced that developing new fly patterns had actually made a difference. developing new fly patterns developing new fly patterns