Monday, 9 May 2016

St Mark's Fly

May Day celebrations in our little village have been and gone. Sparrows are nesting in our eaves, bluebells are in full flower and a million little creatures are playing out their parts in the drama of the hedgerows and fields around our home. Spring has sprung. I love this natural abundance and feeling of optimism and the new possibilities that spring brings into view for the angler who has eyes to see them.

All this has got me thinking about fly life in May and how I might represent some of it in my fly box. My tying style (if I have one) is representative rather than imitative. Probably because a childish inability to follow instructions I seldom tie to patterns set by other tiers, preferring instead to wing it and hope for the best. No two flies I tie ever look quite the same, but then I have heard it said that no two tenkara casts are exactly identical. Each time you make a cast you are creating something unique and never to be repeated. I like my flies to be simple to tie, because I use and lose all lot of them and I have also heard it said that if you are not losing flies then you are not fishing brave enough. I also like my flies to be scruffy and made from easily available (and mostly natural) materials. I don't plan to follow the 'one fly' philosophy for my tenkara adventures because in addition to trout I am pursuing a variety of other species with differing requirements.  
Bibio marci image from
Being a 'representative' tier I think of patterns in terms of general colour, size, shape and behaviour. Today I am thinking about all of those black coloured terrestrials buzzing about right now. Here in the UK many  fly fishers lump several species of black fly under the name 'Bibio'. This includes the hawthorn fly, heather fly and black gnat. I am tying a loose representation of the Bibio marci or 'St Mark's Fly', so called because it is said to emerge on April 25th - St Mark's Day when it swarms around hedgerows and streamsides. Present throughout the first half of May it becomes of interest to the trout fisher when hapless individuals end up on the water and on the trout's menu. 
My loose representation is tied on a size 14 light wire dry fly hook. The body is from peacock herl with a mylar tag back and wings from grizzle hackle tips. The head is from bronze peacock herl with a bit of black cock hackle to suggest legs. The fly is intended to be fished drowned, not as a full blown wet.  It should also serve as a horse fly, heather fly and also a flying ant pattern, in fact any winged black terrestrial that ends up in the drink...



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