Nautical Attitude

Nautical Attitude

I had a lot of success with Magpie Nymphs.  However, unlike its dry counterpart; the mosquito, a Magpie Nymph does not imitate a mosquito very well.  But this got me to thinking, “What wet fly does?”  Besides, the best places I knew of to fish for trout had lots of mosquitos.  I noticed in the horse trough that the larvae had only a few distinguishable features.  For example, the ones near the surface had a visible gas bubble, and they also had segmentation, but were so small that there didn’t seem to be much else to them.  Nevertheless, I observed that many larvae would hang vertically from the water’s surface, but I knew my Magpies did not.  I wanted a pattern that could mimic the larvae’s nautical attitude in the water.  By nautical attitude, I mean how the fly may float, drift, navigate, or is positioned in the water column.  I also liked the effectiveness of bead heads, but was uncertain with how the heavy weighted bead on a BH nymph may cause the pattern to ride with the head in a downward bearing, and the aft end slanting up.  I wished to maintain the effectiveness of a bead head, but I also wanted to manipulate its up-and-down position, thereby more closely imitating a natural.

I sought to employ my patterns’ nautical attitude as a “trigger” for its effectiveness, and this gives the design its name.  I also enjoyed the success of the old miracle nymph, or the more modern zebra midge or snow cone, but I wanted to modify my patterns to more closely imitate a mosquito or chironomid larvae.  The nautical attitude of the naturals is often in the noted vertical position.  In the article, Midge Fishing in Paradise, Brant Oswald agrees that, “…midge pupae often rise to the surface at dusk and hang vertically just under the surface film…”  Apparently I’m not the only one that has contemplated strategies for imitating surface-hanging midges.

Some of my more recent patterns employ a plastic bead for the gas bubble (which floats), with an ultra wire rib and/or a metal bead on the rear for my deep patterns; but a horse hair or thread rib for the surface-hanging pupa.  Consequently, I found that the plastic beads do not float well enough to consistently hold the pattern near the surface, so I’ve been experimenting with different materials for some time.  Subsequently, while browsing through the bait section at Wal-Mart, I spied some 1/8” diameter bobber stops.  Understand now that I was merely walking THROUGH the bait section–not shopping, so I don’t want to hear it.

Nevertheless, the old standbys—spun deer or antelope hair, continue to be a viable solution.  So, these alternatives will have to suffice until I can talk Brian Westover and Westwater Products into making Unibobbers specifically for tying small flies…

A key feature of some of these designs incorporates one wrap of ultra wire on the rear of the hook for nautical ballast.  The remainder of the fly is then ribbed with a lighter material.  The weight of the hook bend also serves as counterweight.  When cast, this pattern plops down under water, then the floating bead “bobs” it back to the surface, which effectively imitates an emerging insect.  The bead in one of the photo examples is a painted bobber stop.

Hook: Mustad 94842, TMC 101 or similar work well.
Bead(s): use a plastic bead or bobber for the head, and/or a metal bead for the rear.  The theory is that this configuration gives the pattern its head-up and tail-down nautical attitude in the water column.
Abdomen: White or translucent thread
Rib: One wrap of ultra wire on the rear, and thread or horse hair for the rest of the fly.

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