they don’t look like anything in particular, just some general bug-type shape with just enough bug-type elements that suggest food and colour contrasts to set them apart from river debris and nothing more. in a sense, they epitomise the presentation over imitation concept. here’s a few examples:
at first glance they look like nuclear waste candies and as always and specially when dealing with non-immitative flies, colours are mostly up to the tier’s whim. personally, and since i never specifically target grayling because i can’t stand the f’n things… preferring to focus my attention on trout and other less offensive creatures, i like them best in naturalish tones with a black head. that’s my whim.
these things consist of a lead or lead substitute wire wound around the hook shank to form the body followed by several layers of ceramic hobby paint to finish the fly. Pébéo seems to be the preferred brand, it’s available in small pots and even in pen form. i’m not familiar with the pens but it seems to be a fast, easy and maybe less expensive alternative for the person who might want to just try these out or make just a few.
there’s no traditional ‘tying’ involved in the process. traditionalists will of course poo-poo these things and not even consider them as flies but the hell with them. traditional flies can’t do what these do which brings us to the ‘what they do’ part-
apart from the Perdigon style of nymphs, every other style of nymph that i know of has sink-restraining elements: feathers, fur, dubbing, rubber or whatever protuberances that slow down and make it more difficult to get the flies on or near the bottom and that’s what these deep-divers are supposed to do. sink-restraining flies can get to the bottom too but they need more time and an enormous amount of weight to counter their sink-restraining properties but once there, and even if they catch fish sometimes and look ‘good’, they’ll tend to drift like big lifeless, unnatural lumps.
sleek deep-divers like Perdigons and Ceramics do indeed have some form of weight but much less. being super-sleek they cut through currents faster, get where they’re supposed to go faster, meaning the angler doesn’t have to cast as far upstream and wait for it to settle, making the presentation a lot more accurate in drift management while freely tumbling downstream with the current much closer to what a natural would do and that’s a lot more important and fish-catching than bits and pieces wound on a hook that attract the angler more than the fish.
an added bonus is lighter flies are a lot easier to cast (and safer) specially when using industry standard fly lines as opposed to Dynamic/Euro/TightLine/monofilament-only rigs.
as we’ll see in Stanislas Freyheit‘s video below this particular type of paint has some really interesting properties, the only drawback might be that its best (and highly recommended!) to wait approximately 24 hrs between coats. this means making them in batches and being patient, sort of like making babies and having to wait nine months before they pop out.
lastly, a bit of unofficial Ceramic nymph history. this kind of info with any kind of veracity isn’t easy to obtain but i can confirm their French origin. although relatively new to the global fly fishing world, i’ve known about them for about fifteen or so years.
frogs tend to not share their secrets… however, Stanislas, who ties these bugs commercially happily shares all his trade secrets for all to see, all in a very understandable english, big kudos for that. enjoy !
fly images via flyfishing.co.uk/Google images