Old age is a bugger, isn’t it. Advancing years bring some positives I will grant you; experience, appreciation of the good things in life and a calmness which is rare in the young. But weighed against these positives are some pretty hefty negatives, the chief one being (in my opinion) failing health. Now look, I’m not ready for the pine box just yet but as 60 looms large my body is starting to show definite signs of wear and tear. Joints are arthritic, energy levels are noticeably declining and my eyesight deteriorates and a near daily basis. I used to be blessed with excellent eyesight but now life revolves around the never-ending hunt for my glasses. I hate spectacles with a passion, they are never where you want them and the fiddle of putting them on to perform the smallest task irritates me enormously. Unfortunately I just can’t see without them so I am trapped in the thrall of these hideous contraptions.
Given my ocular limitations, spotting tiny flies on the water is a huge challenge for me. It is bad enough in good light, but as the shadows lengthen in the evening I struggle to see anything at all, let alone a size 16 spinner floating along in a streamy run. Glasses or no glasses, frustration grows as cast after cast is fished out with me blithely unaware of where the damn fly is. A remedy was called for so I spent some time at the vice this afternoon to tackle the problem of making my small dries more visible.
My particular issues were how to make spinners easier to see in low light. I was thinking of evenings on the Robe and the Keel canal where, by mid-May there should be falls of olive spinners. The brownies can rise in big numbers during these occasions so a good copy can be very effective and my normal design incorporates a couple of features which I think make them winners. Firstly they have wings tied fully spent made from pale grey floating yarn. I imagine this gives an instantly recognisable shape for the fish to key on to. The second feature is a fur body which allows any remaining light in the sky to shine through giving a ‘glow’ to fly. I am not a fan on ‘hard’ bodies on spinner patterns (quill, silks etc).
Micro fibbet tails, a body of dubbed rusty fur and a post of pink fibres for me to see gave me the look I was after. I tied up a couple with a chocolate cock hackle wound around the pink post but it didn’t seem to add anything to the fly so I didn’t bother with it on subsequent models.
These flies are fine for the streamy necks of pools but in the flat water and smooth tails I feel the need for something softer for presenting to trout who have time to be very choosy. I replace the synthetic yarn wings with CDC for challenging water.