Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Season's First Hatch

The signs of winter's passing are beginning to become evident, the days are getting noticeably longer and even this morning's snowfall was one of those early spring affairs where the snow does little more the cover the early morning with a clean white blanket that it quickly sheds by noon.  I've always loved winter for quiet solitude that it casts on the outdoors but each new season brings something unique that I usually find enjoyable.

As I was looking through my fishing log, I remembered that last year about mid March there was a very nice hatch of early brown stoneflies.  For a couple of days in march, this first sizable hatch of the year can send a lot of these small dark stoneflies into the air.  I noticed that very few fish rose to the adults but I did pretty well with a #14 pheasant tail.  In preparation, I've been tying a few different patterns shown below.

The first is a variation on the classic beadhead pheasant tail.  I've used a gun metal bead, dyed pheasant tail (black) fibers, fine copper wire, peacock herl thorax and dark brown/black hen hackle.

I've also been reading up on some traditional north country spiders.  Their simple profile and sparseness is very intriguing and fun to tie.  For those interested in learning some more about tying and fishing these patterns here are some links I've found helpful.

Here are three north country spiders that might pass for an early brown stonefly.  They are known as the February Red, the Winter Brown, and the Black Magic.  The February Red is tied with red Pearsall's silk (cardinal), hare's ear dubbing for the thorax, and a woodcock feather.  I've substituted India hen for the woodcock.

The winter brown is a variation of the February Red with peacock herl for the head.  To provide more durability to the herl, the herl is wrapped around the thread using hackle pliers to form a tight rope.

The third is known as the Black Magic.  It uses brown silk, peacock herl for the thorax, and a starling feather for the hackle. 

We'll see if fish in New England approve ....Tight lines

February Red

Winter Brown

Black Magic

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