Phil Dixon picks six successful flies for winter sport
russ symons shares a pattern that does the job in winter but works all year too!
MANY reservoirs are now closed for the season. Low temperatures are beginning to ice up the edges of small waters and the fish are deep for all but the balmiest of winter days. It’s time for lures fished deep – dredging tactics! I must confess that my sinking lines get their most exercise now. Quietly bimbling a fly through those clear patches between where the weedbeds are in the summer is a tactic that puts fish in your bag – before you head to the pub to get warm again. This marabou-tailed Beady Fly was designed just for this purpose. It’s one of those flies that has been around for a few years but never received the publicity it deserves. I say that because I think it is a bit more than just a ‘pulling’ lure. Certainly, it works on a sinking line and a fast-to-medium sort of retrieve, just as you would with a lot of other lures. But in the tough times of the baking hot weather we enjoyed for a few weeks earlier this year, a small Beady fished off a floating or sinktip line with a figure-of-eight retrieve caught me fish when more recognised flies were not doing the business. It has a lot to do with the motion of the highlymobile marabou tail and the almost subliminal glint and flickering message given out by the encapsulated glass beads. It just works!
Choose the right hook
Tying the Beady is not difficult, but give some thought to what hook you choose. I use a size 8 Kamasan B120 when I’m tying the larger sizes because the bead body will tend to narrow the hook gape. Similarly, if I’m tying a smaller lure I’ll still tend to use a hook size larger than I might normally consider. This is something which fly-tyers sometimes fail to consider with other flies as well, where the bulk of the body interferes with the hook’s ability to get a purchase. How many times have we heard an angler say they’ve had three good pulls, but nothing stuck. Trout have quite large mouths, so don’t be frightened to use a size 8 or even size 6 hook if you are tying a fly that has a thick, bulky body. One thing is for sure, you’ll not lose fish because of the larger hook. The glass beads I use are purchased from flybox.co.uk . A pal of mine gets his from a craft shop and they’re very similar, but I like the colour selection from Flybox and they’re not expensive. These glass beads are not precision made: some are thick, some thin, some the hook barb goes through easily and others you’ll put to one side to use with a smaller hook size. To some extent, I think it’s this disparity between the bead sizes and shapes that adds to a random
“When the cold is just beginning to bite...try a few, they’re not difficult to tie and they might end up being one of your favourites as well.”
glint and flicker of the body as you move it around in the light. If there is a problem with the glass beads it is their fragility. The slightest tap on a stone or anything hard while casting and the beads will shatter, which is why – on this pattern – the beads are covered with a light coat of UV resin or epoxy. This coating of UV resin also acts like a Fresnel lens, amplifying the flickers of light that emanate from the beads – another reason I’m sure, why this fly catches as well as it does. There are two versions of this fly. One is weighted, as I’ve tied here, with a metal bead up front. The other version is tied without the metal bead. It’s all to do with how fast you want it to sink and how you want it to fish. An Olive Beady without a metal bead, or perhaps even just a small metal bead, will loiter, move and flicker midwater off a floating line, perfect at damsel time and it’s a fly which really works – believe me! At this time of year, when the cold is just beginning to bite, a white marabou Beady with a yellow or green tungsten bead with clear glass beads or whatever takes your fancy, is one of my favourites. Also the black or orange versions can be useful now. Try a few, they’re not difficult to tie and they might well end up being one of your favourites as well.
This rainbow couldn’t resist the Olive Beady.