Our top mayfly tac­tics

ONE OF THE MOST CAP­TI­VAT­ING AND CHAL­LENG­ING AS­PECTS OF FLY FISH­ING IS AN­GLING DUR­ING A MAYFLY HATCH, WRITES DAVID MOATE, WHO IN­VES­TI­GATES THE PHE­NOM­E­NON AND THE TAC­TICS FOR SUC­CESS.

NZ Fish & Game - - Front Page -

ONE OF THE FEW UN­YIELD­ING CON­STANTS in fly fish­ing, the world over, is the ap­peal of tar­get­ing trout dur­ing a mayfly hatch. In­deed, one only need con­sider the tomes of trout fish­ing lit­er­a­ture, the plethora of fly pat­terns and vary­ing fish­ing meth­ods that have been ded­i­cated to this most in­trigu­ing and be­guil­ing part of the pur­suit.

A big at­trac­tion of fish­ing a mayfly hatch is see­ing trout ac­tively ris­ing and hav­ing a fish to tar­get rather than just cast­ing blindly cov­er­ing all the wa­ter in the hope of elic­it­ing a strike. Equally al­lur­ing, though, is the fact that while ris­ing trout might ap­pear to be easy to catch, fre­quently they are not. It takes lots of ex­per­i­ment­ing with meth­ods and fly pat­terns to achieve suc­cess, and con­sis­tent suc­cess can be elu­sive.

New Zealand is not known for reg­u­lar and con­sis­tent mayfly hatch sit­u­a­tions like those found on Europe or Amer­ica rivers, but we do have mayfly species that can pro­vide fab­u­lous fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in all our wa­ters, with some like the Ruamahanga, Tuk­ituki and Mataura rivers well re­garded as mayfly hatch fish­eries.

It is out low­land streams and rivers – with dense pop­u­la­tions of the smaller mayfly species like De­lea­tid­ium and Zephlebia – which pro­vide the bet­ter hatch fish­ing. Our back­coun­try head­wa­ters also of­fer some mayfly fish­ing, how­ever hatches are scarcer and less fre­quent and do not re­quire spe­cialised pat­terns or meth­ods to catch fish.

There are at least 21 species of mayfly in this coun­try, all of which have a com­mon life his­tory of egg, nymph and adult, with life­spans rang­ing from just months to over two years. One of the in­ter­est­ing traits of th­ese in­sects is they have de­vel­oped a unique method of breed­ing and dis­per­sal that en­ables them to pop­u­late mov­ing wa­ters.

A ma­ture mayfly nymph rises from the streambed to the sur­face where it sheds its outer skin and emerges as a ‘subimago’ or ‘dun’. The dun then flies off into veg­e­ta­tion to hide, with some mov­ing quite a dis­tance up­stream while oth­ers even fly into a dif­fer­ent catch­ment, an at­tribute that en­ables mayflies to main­tain pop­u­la­tions in mov­ing wa­ters and re­colonise ar­eas dam­aged by floods or droughts.

Af­ter one to three days the mayfly will change one more time from a dun into an ‘imago’ or ‘spin­ner’ – the finial de­vel­op­ment stage. The spin­ner is ready to mate in the air above the river with the males dy­ing first. The fer­tile fe­males drops eggs

AN ADULT MAYFLY READY TO TAKE TO THE WING AND MATE

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