Ah, these tough winters in Arizona with lots of golf, daily happy hours, sunshine almost every day with none of that white stuff but sadly, at least for me, no fishing! However, I do some fishing related research work when we are down here and this year I found an interesting article about 65 of Charles Cotton's flies that were included in Isaak Walton's Compleat Angler, first published in 1655. Mr. Cotton's patterns were tied entirely by hand without the aid of our modern day vise. Another interesting fact is that the flies were hand tied with horse hair leaders afixed to the hook shank but more on that later as I will look over some Charles Cotton patterns that may well produce today and these will be the subject of future articles.
This month we will look at a fly that was almost an accident of my fly tying bench. Lundbom Lake, one of my favourite still water locations for large trout, is just over an hour's drive from my home in Kelowna. A few years ago, I wanted to tie some classic chironomids for Lundbom, black with a gold wire rib and gold bead. At the time, I didn't have or rather could not find correct ingredients so I made do with what I had on hand, silver beads and copper wire for the rib. A short time later, I found the fishing at Lundbom slow with only one good fish landed on a leech pattern. On the way out, I noticed many enticing rises on the smaller but pretty Marquart Lake. As it was yet early in the afternoon, I slipped my pickup truck down to the west side shore and unloaded my car topper once more. The trout were not as large as in neighbouring Lundbom and they appeared to be feeding on a hatch of dark chironomids. As it happened, the only black chironomid in my fly box was the silver beaded one with the copper rib! Oh well, why not give it a try? You guessed it, solid action from the word go! Enough said so now that our lower level Interior Lakes are clearing of ice, this chironomid mistake may be just what the Doctor ordered!
I like tying chironomids on short shanked scud hooks often using a larger size such as a 10 hook than the naturals. Another factor about chironomids is that they are easy to tie especially when using a hook of that size. Anyway, start this fly by slipping a cyclops nickel 7/64 inch bead through to the hook eye. As an option, you can add a few turns of thin lead wire just behind the bead if you desire a faster sink rate. Then secure a length of copper wire to the hook shank. Next wrap black wool or cord material hook bend to the bead followed by a few turns in the opposite direction with the copper wire to form the rib. The final step is to form a dubbing loop with black Hare's Ear or similar material such as mohair to make a collar or thorax just behind the bead. Secure, cement, tie off, and you have finished the Marquart Lake Chironomid!
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