Don's Fly Tying - The Howard Lake Chironomid

[The Howard Lake Chironomid]

January is a month when most fly fishermen can only dream of great slashing trout that readily take your hand tied flies at will! However, the fly tier can be busy creating artificial flies that at times can make such dreams come true. It has happened to me using a large and unique chironomid at Howard Lake which is located in BC's Cariboo country. Howard has some unusually large mayflies that emerge over a fairly long period of time from June to early August. While the large Howard rainbows will take a dry mayfly imitation, the success rate is usually spotty at best on the surface but I have had some great success using a nymph representing the mayfly chironomid fished just off the bottom. I use a dry line with a 12 foot leader and cast toward shoreline weedbeds where the water is only 8 or 10 feet deep. There is usually a breeze so I let the wind slowly drift the fly over the bottom, or when calm, I use a very slow thumb and finger retrieve. For large fish, the strikes are not aggressive on this nymph, so a strike indicator at the fly line leader join is definitely an asset. You will not find the Howard Lake chironomid in a fly shop so the fly tier has a distinct advantage when creating this fly as described below.



I seldom weight this chironomid as I want to float it just above the weeds but without sinking into the bottom continually. Start by tying in a small clump of guinea hen or grizzly hackle to make a short tail and then attach a fine grizzly hackle tip first at the hook bend. The next step is to wind in a wool body tail to head but the trick is to create a mottled look by using two thin strips of wool of different colors placed side by side and wound on the hook shank so that both colors show through! I have found that light brown and green or blue and green are good choices. The final step is to wind the grizzly hackle from the hook bend to the hook eye and tie off. This palmered hackle must then be trimmed with your scissors completely around and very close to the fly body. At this point, I wind my invisible tying thread back and forth once from the head to tail and back in order to add strength to the close cropped hackle but without distorting the appearance of the nymph which of course is the advantage of using invisible thread! I have experimented with adding a head to the fly, both with peacock herl and white ostrich plumes but the fly seems to be just as effective without so I go by the motto of keeping a fly as simply as possible. It is more important to fish this nymph slowly and just off the bottom.

Your comments are welcome at "dhaaheim at telus dot net"

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