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.
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