Foam Post Emerger

Peter Gather­cole ties a fly to tar­get trout feed­ing around the weedbeds

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

AS wa­ter lev­els re­cede on our reser­voirs, large beds of mar­ginal weed be­come ex­posed. These dense beds pro­vide trout with a rich larder of good­ies from corix­ids and snails to hoglice, shrimps and small fish. Trout will cruise the mar­gins and chan­nels be­tween the weed pick­ing off these small food items. When fish­ing from the bank they pro­vide ac­cess to big, grown- on fish drawn in to the abun­dance of food, fi­fish which for much of the sum­mer have kept out of range. Don’t ex­pect a large bag of fish – in­stead this is all about tar­get­ing in­di­vid­ual fish in a method of fly­fish­ing closer to hunt­ing than merely cast­ing out and wait­ing for a trout to find the fly. How­ever, what makes the mar­gins around weedbeds such great places to find ris­ing fish is also what makes them prob­lem­atic. And that prob­lem is the weed it­self.

Try a sin­gle dry fly

Though a nymph will work it’s a great place for a dry fly, not least be­cause a float­ing fly is less likely to catch in weed. Ac­cu­rate cast­ing is re­quired, which is eas­ier to achieve when us­ing a sin­gle fly and don’t be afraid of get­ting your fly right up against the weed edge – this is of­ten where the trout are. Us­ing a sin­gle fly has a sec­ond, more im­por­tant part to play. When a fish is hooked you’ll of­ten pick up some trail­ing weed on the line or leader. This is bad enough but if you’ve one or more trail­ing flies it’s cer­tain they’ll catch into the weed at which point the leader will break. In­ter­est­ingly, most hooked fish don’t bury straight into the weed; in­stead they usu­ally bolt into deeper wa­ter. But it’s when it comes to land­ing them that dis­as­ter can strike. So even be­fore you’ve hooked a fish, try to find a large enough gap into which it can be steered for net­ting.

Float­ing Fry

If the trout are eat­ing small fish, species such as stick­le­backs and roach fry, a small Float­ing Fry im­i­ta­tion can be ab­so­lutely deadly. Two of the best are a small Popper Minkie and a My­lar Fry. If the fish are tak­ing smaller fare then stan­dard dry flies such as Bob’s Bits or a Ship­man’s Buzzer also work ex­tremely well. How­ever, for this style of fish­ing, I pre­fer an emerger-style pat­tern – one where the body of the fly hangs be­low the wa­ter’s sur­face sup­ported by a buoy­ant wing or hackle. There’s a range of ma­te­ri­als that can be used from CdC to poly-yarn and foam. Foam is good be­cause, be­ing nat­u­rally buoy­ant, it doesn’t get swamped and sink. In the calm con­di­tions the fly of­ten needs to be left in one spot for much longer than would be the case when fish­ing open wa­ter.

Be stealthy

Trout in shal­low wa­ter spook eas­ily and lift­ing off to re­cast or dry a sunk fly can mean you have to look for an­other tar­get. They also reg­u­larly change di­rec­tion so you can never rely on where the trout is likely to rise next. You can ei­ther find this frus­trat­ing or sim­ply ac­cept it as part of the thrill. To be hon­est, it’s ac­tu­ally a bit of both.

The Sugar Cube style

The foun­da­tion of the style of pat­tern I pre­fer is the Sugar Cube, so named be­cause a small block of white foam was used at the head to keep the fly float­ing. The foam has a two-fold pur­pose. The first is sim­ply to keep the fly float­ing, while the sec­ond, and no less im­por­tant func­tion, is to allow the fly to be twitched through the wa­ter’s sur­face with­out it sink­ing. Trout are vis­ually ori­ented and any small move­ment can at­tract their at­ten­tion. When trout are cruis­ing very close to the sur­face their win­dow of vi­sion is quite small so any­thing that makes your float­ing fly more ob­vi­ous is worth em­ploy­ing. Dif­fer­ent coloured foam can be used. Orig­i­nally foam sheet or block was used but now we have a wide range of foam dow­els or cords avail­able de­signed for ty­ing Boo­bies. They come in a va­ri­ety of use­ful colours, but even if you only have white or per­haps yel­low Booby cord it can eas­ily be coloured with a few dabs of olive or brown per­ma­nent marker pen to make it look a bit more nat­u­ral. When us­ing foam, it’s im­por­tant to get the right bal­ance be­tween the amount of foam and the rest of the fly. Al­though the ma­te­ri­als have an in­flu­ence it’s the weight of the hook that’s the main thing to con­sider. As when ty­ing any type of dry fly for use on still­wa­ter the maxim is al­ways use the heav­i­est weight of hook you can get away with. Big, pow­er­ful trout will test any fine-wire hook be­yond its lim­its. Mostly the prob­lem oc­curs if the fish rips off yards of line and back­ing as it heads out into deeper wa­ter. A com­bi­na­tion of the line’s weight plus any weed that it might have picked up will of­ten cause the bend of a fine-wire hook to open up enough to part company with the fish. When us­ing foam on rel­a­tively small pat­terns such as the Sugar Cube it’s a good idea to tie one ex­am­ple then judge the amount of foam you need to keep the hook you are us­ing afloat. You can do this by pop­ping it into a glass of wa­ter – re­mem­ber though to give it a minute or so to let the body ma­te­ri­als get a thor­ough soak­ing. The rea­son for be­ing so pre­cise is that you don’t want the fly to be bulky which can be a prob­lem when us­ing foam. The in­ten­tion is for this fly, un­like a Popper Hop­per for in­stance, to sit just un­der the sur­face, not on it. Nat­u­ral dub­bing ma­te­ri­als work well on a pat­tern of this type as they quickly ab­sorb wa­ter help­ing the body cut quickly through the wa­ter’s sur­face. A small amount of sparkle may also be in­cluded – a few turns of pearl tin­sel as a tag work well, as does hav­ing a small amount of iri­des­cent fi­bres such as Glis­ter or Lite-Brite blended into the dub­bing. Al­though there’s no sup­port­ing hackle, a few strands of CdC, wisps to be more pre­cise, break up the fly’s out­line giv­ing the im­pres­sion of legs or just some­thing go­ing on.

Ty­ing the Foam Post Emerger

Fix a size 14 medium or heavy­weight wet fly hook in the vice and run the thread on at the eye. The first step is to add the foam and a solid thread-base is needed to hold it in place. Var­i­ous types of foam dowel may be used in­clud­ing 3.2mm foam cylin­ders in tan. I’ve of­ten used yel­low 3.5mm Booby foam but white or black is fine – all are cheap and eas­ily ob­tain­able. Catch in the foam so at least 6mm of it projects over the eye. Here it’s worth a quick note on the ty­ing thread. Don’t go too fine. Use a stan­dard 8/0 type so as not to cut the thread. Ap­ply firm lock­ing turns of thread over the foam then add a few turns around the hook shank just be­hind the eye. Next, trim the waste end of the foam to a steep ta­per. Run the thread loosely over the foam stub and down the shank to the bend. Catch in a length of medium-width pearl My­lar tin­sel and wind it on to form a short tag. In front of the tag, catch in a length of fine gold wire then dub on a pinch of some nat­u­ral fur. Wind the dubbed fur along the shank right up to the stub of foam form­ing a ta­pered body. The body is then ribbed with evenly-spaced turns of the gold wire. The hackle, if you can call it that, is sim­ply a few strands of grey CdC torn from the plume and caught in above and be­low the body. The final stage is then to cast off the thread with a whip fin­ish be­fore colour­ing the foam post with an olive marker pen.

“In calm con­di­tions the fly of­ten needs to be left in one spot for much longer...”

Marker pen.

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