On the Bristol Reservoirs this has generally meant in April over the last few years, whereas beforehand the fish didnít used to show signs of surface feeding until May.
I will start your dry fly collection with a basic "Bobís Bits" which is a great all round fly that will catch fish in any conditions. Early on you will need darker colours, so I am illustrating the pattern with a black fly. I use either Kamasan B400, or the TMC 100 as in the photographs. If the fish do appear to be surface feeding early in the year, you can generally get away with using a size 12, but later on I tend to use size 14 as my standard.
Incidentally I should mention that Bob Worts, who lives in a village near Grafham, invented the fly. He originally tied some small green dries to imitate the little midges that were prominent on his local reservoir. His old fishing jumper was the source of his first patterns. The name comes from the "bits" of wool pulled from the jumper
Begin with taking the tying silk to the bend of the hook. I rarely bother with ribbing my flies; I donít think that this aspect is one of the crucial factors in getting a trout to rise! If, however, you feel the need for a rib, then it must be tied in before you reach the bend. I use sealís fur for all of my dries. I have tried other materials, modern and new, but remain happiest with the old favourite. Sealís fur is pretty difficult to work with, but Bob Carnhill set out the best way to make it workable in an article he wrote in the seventies. He suggested that you take a small amount of the material and roll it into a tight ball. What this does is break down some of the inherent strength and springyness of the fibres. When you are ready to use it, tease out the amount you require and then halve it (it is really tempting to use a great clump, but less is certainly best in dry flies!).
Make a tight "rope" of sealís fur around the tying silk and simply wind it back up to the eye. This "dubbing" aspect of fly tying is hard to get the hang of, but once you have cracked it you will wonder why it ever seemed difficult. Some experts advise the use of wax or some other tacky substance to hold the dubbing in place. I find that, provided you roll the sealís fur round the silk tightly enough, you really donít need it. I believe in simplicity and anything that is unnecessary is done away with in my books!
At the eye (as with our previous flies, I advise you to wind off the dubbing at a point about 3 Ė 4 mm behind the eye), tie in a black cock hackle. The length of the fibres should be about the same as that of the hook shank from eye to point, though I donít mind a bit of leniency in this "rule". I repeat my earlier comments about quality of the capes that you buy. In Tasmania everyone used Hoffman or Metz capes. I use the "bargain bucket" ones that you can often get at game fairs or from larger tackle shops.
Two or three turns of the hackle is enough; whip finish and that is itÖunless you fell compelled to varnish the head. In use this fly needs just a small amount of floatant such as Gherkeís Gink. Always squeeze a small drop of this onto your fingers and warm it up until it becomes really runny. Then apply it to the body of the fly. Never apply it directly to the fly from the bottle.
This basic pattern can be adapted to supply virtually all of your dries for the season. Tie them in a variety of colours: especially red, orange, claret and shades of these. Also use some different sized hooks from 10 Ė 16.
If you struggle with the dubbing technique it really is worthwhile getting someone to show you how to do it. But do stick with it because it will leave you equipped to tie a huge variety of flies.
The Black "Bobís Bits:
Hook Kamasan B400 or TMC 100
Body Black sealís fur
Hackle Black cock cape