Natural Flies: Stone Flies
Stone-flyare crawling creatures, hence the North Country name ‘creepers’. They are fearless and may be picked up for inspection.
Theare very active, and most species crawl ashore before emerging as adult flies from the nymphal shuck. This limits their value in trout fishing, since there is no moment of eclosion when the nymph lies on the water completely at the mercy of fish.
Large stone-flies and their nymphs are traditionally difficult to simulate successfully and no very successful pattern has been evolved.
February Red and Early Brown
These are the earliest of the stone-flies. The first of them is one I have never encountered, although it is said to occur in Wales. The Early Brown is common and widely distributed. Like all stone-flies it has a long narrow body and strong legs.
A traditional general pattern which suggests both these species and can hardly be improved upon is tied thus :
Body: Orange tying silk ribbed with finest gold wire
Hackle: Brown partridge
Tail: Partridge fibres
Needle-flies are locally common, especially towards the end of summer. As the name suggests they are slender flies. The artificial is said to kill well in September. Dark Spanish Needle is a traditional Yorkshire tie for this fly; a partridge-and-orange, very sparsely hackled, is a fair simulation.
This insect makes an appearance in late April, when the angler may observe them crawling clumsily about in wet grasses fringing the water. They are commonly as long as 3.5 cm (11 ins).
If big stone-flies are hatching it is a sure sign that their nymphs must be crawling ashore prior to that event. The natural nymph of the stone-fly is large enough to be used as bait.
Artificial patterns of the Large Stone-fly are notoriously mediocre in effect. I have occasionally taken the odd fish by using the following simple pattern.
Body: Dark rabbit fur and olive seal’s fur mixed and dubbed sparsely on the hook
Wing: Hen pheasant dressed full
Hackle: Brown partridge
Heavy hatches of this fly are sometimes noticed. The angler brushing through bank-side vegetation sometimes finds his jacket strewn with them. Again, this means that the fish will be active against the nymph as it crawls ashore. Fished slowly near the bottom any small, dark, weighted nymph is likely to catch fish in these circumstances. A simple but effective tie is a Pheasant Tail nymph of the sort commonly used on the Avon.
Body: Two even layers of fine copper armature wire. Over-lay with cock-pheasant tail fibres ribbed with fine gold wire
Hackle: None, or two turns of black hen