April may be a little early for quality dry fly action on Western Canadian lakes, especially the higher altitude water that is often ice bound at this time of year. However, when fishing chironomids in early season on those occassional warm sunny days, I have noticed good fish periodically rising even though it is still too early for normal mayfly or sedge hatches. That is the time when I will switch to a dry line and cast a small clipped hair sedge to try to entice a strike in spite of no apparent hatch! And surprise, surprise, I have been rewarded with a slashing surface strike by a good trout although I must admit, not often in early spring.
The clipped hair sedge, whether deer or elk, in my experience, should be part of any well equipped fly fisherman's favorite fly box selection. I believe that elk stands up better to those hard big rainbow strikes but deer hair ties and clips well, and also is a good color in its natural state. This month we will look at the tying technique for spinning a clipped hair sedge. Another bonus of this fly is that it floats extremely well without artificial floatant.
There is a special technique for spinning on deer or elk hair. Attach your tying thread at hook center. Then cut a smallish piece of deer hair and lay it across the hook shank where you have attached your tying thread. Loop your thread loosely over the piece of hair at midpoint, i.e., lay the hair across the hook with an equal length projecting perpendicular to the hook shank. As you hold one end of the hair in place, form a second loop over the hair midpoint and here is the trick. While completing the second loop, suddenly increase the pressure on your thread and at the same time, release your hold on the hair. It should start to spin around the hook shank momentarily before the increasing thread pressure that you apply holds the piece of hair firmly in place. If you are happy with the spin, half hitch the hair firmly with your tying thread. It takes some practice to get the correct spin on the hair as it should rotate completely around the hook shank and stick straight out in a 360 degree circle. Once you have mastered the technique, push each turn of hair tightly against the previous one, from the hook bend until several spins later, you have reached the hook eye. Now comes the art work. I like to clip the underside of the fly smooth and short enough to provide clearance for the hook barb to assist in good hooking action. The top is clipped as a long triangle (looking at the front), sloping higher as you reach the hook bend. To finish the fly, add a turn or two of either grizzly or brown hackle at the hook eye, tie off and cement. I like the clipped hair sedge in small sizes for early season top water fishing. At that time of year, a nymph or wet fly may be more productive but when the sun sparkles on the water on a warm spring day, who the heck cares!
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