“Aquatic entomologists place little emphasis on body color when attempting to identify a mayfly species. They collect virgin, male, mayfly spinners, and dissect them to clearly see their penes (mayflies have two). They then count the spines on the penes and compare them to photos in books to identify each species. There is no way to be sure of the species from a female spinner, and you may not be able to tell from a nonvirgin male. No kidding! I couldn’t make this stuff up.” see ? as seemingly far-fetched, mind-boggling, thought-provoking and mostly giggly because it’s not like these two thingies are going to double their pleasure.., as much as i like to make up shit i didn’t make up this post’s title either.
seeing how some aquatic bugs breathe through their butts and then all the others do all sorts of other weird things, that one little fact (ok, two) doesn’t help us all that much if we’re trying to match a hatch on the stream but it’s all good to know because well, knowing is better than not knowing, it’s cool and this kind of stuff is just a reminder that fiction usually isn’t so far-fetched after all. the weird and mostly wonderful is all around us and it’s real.
Paul Weamer’s excellent article, Understanding Mayflies on Fly Fisherman -via Erin Block’s super-duper Tippet section at MidCurrent- doesn’t give us all the answers either but goes a long way in getting to know our little friends a little better.
click either pick to access the complete article and please excuse the fact that the main character in the second image isn’t a mayfly but hey, it might turn into one if you stare at it long enough… enjoy !
is a funny little guy that stops by TLC headquarters once in a while. he doesn’t have much to say and I don’t understand his sign language and he doesn’t understand English or French or my own sign language.
we do however play ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ so I pull up my t-shirt and show him my belly, Ben in turn does the same. I’m not sure what he gets out of our little exchange but I get to observe all his little details and not just groove on how cool looking my little friend is but also get to figure out what can make a great adult chironomid imitation and all that seen from below, the fish’s point of view. it’s a pretty good deal, I like this game.
probably not and however much i try, i can’t either… but thanks to the inquisitive and coolnerdy group at Noticing we’ll find out how and why dragonfly nymphs do exactly that and other exciting things with their wiggly butts.
we’ll also get a pretty darn good explanation how mayfly and other nymphs manage to breathe whilst being underwater (something i’m already pretty sure none of you can do) and all sorts of nifty and fascinating things about our favourite bugs. wonderfully explained, this article is well worth sharing with your little ones as its yet another fantastic example of the marvelous, adaptive, fascinating capabilities of the animal world right there at our (wet) feet. they’ve found the perfect balance of easy-to-understand informative while keeping things light and humorous. the site is quite new yet they’re off to a fantastic start and i really-really wish them well.
to read more and see a video showing why dragonfly nymphs are next best thing after Alien and find out why all these grey beachballs are trying to prevent the red one from going out you’ll have to click on it to see. enjoy !
nice little surprise visit this morning from Mrs. May B while having the coffee and trying to catch up on emails.
she landed on my computer’s trackpad, jiggled a bit for me and stuck around for the photo shoot and went on her jolly way.
nice way to start off the week and a new month. bye babe !
TLC headquarters is within spitting distance of a canal in the south of France: Le Canal du Midi. as scenic and tourist-drawing as this little waterway may be, and even though its commercial use of shipment barges is long gone, it nevertheless runs through a valley where agriculture borders it from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean sea. in other words, its a gutter for pesticides and whatever else crap that comes from both sides of the surrounding hills. not the kind of place one wants to go for a swim and its pretty rare to see anyone doing this.
aquatic insect life is what you might expect, mostly chironomids (in great quantities !) and a few dragonfly species just to name the more prominent flutterers. however, in the last few years their have been a few visits at night to my desk from small and lovely caddis adults. a little research and explanations from amateur entomologist friends have countered my idea that these lovely bugs could actually live and develop in the thick sticky silt that beds this canal but yesterday’s surprise was a real slap in the face, at least this guy’s “any kind of mayfly must come from a lovely, clean, bubbling, cool temped, stone-bottomed stream” face. i like to be slapped like this and hope it happens frequently.
freshly hatched from the Canal du Midi right here at TLC-HQ, this little thing’s total body length is about 5mm long.
true, fish will usually see these tidbits from underneath as chironomids/midges finish their final transformation from emerger to completed adult at the water’s surface but a) the canal isn’t very inviting swim-wise, b) it’s cold and rainy outside and c) i have no idea where my swim trunks are and d) i don’t feel like scaring the little girls that just moved in next door…
anyway, i always consider it a treat to see the delicate beauty of these creatures but also on practical terms, as fly tiers this image can help us with details, proportions and to highlight how sunlight shows through them and maybe give us a better idea how to translate all that to our flies.
with a similarly replicating ‘looking up towards the sky’ fish’s perspective, the bug was completely backlit when the image was taken. note that every part except for the darkest are translucent.
of interest as well are the slender micro feather-like breathers, big eye(s), hefty thorax and slender abdomen and the legs are as long as the body. to me it’s not about tying hyper-realistic flies but of gathering the essential trigger points that make great fishing flies, not flies that catch fishers.
sure, depending on which area of the world you’re in, midges can and will be of very different sizes in hook terms, say, from a size 8 to size 28 and while this one’s green they’ll also be found in various tones of red, black, yellow and who knows what else, but these bugs all basically have the same details and proportions.
generally speaking, tie your midge patterns skinny and airy and you’ll most certainly catch more fish !
“The lochs in my part of the (Scottish) Highlands are acidic; this is from the peat that blankets this part of the world.
Aquatic insects find it difficult to extract oxygen from the water if it is acidic. To counter this their haemoglobin has to be more efficient. As it becomes more efficient it also becomes redder.”
“This explained the choices which of flies we use. Tradition has us using lots of flies with red in them. My approach to the traditional flies has been to ask “What is it that makes this pattern successful?” then to look into how modern materials enable me to tie flies with more of what makes them work.”
brilliant info indeed. after a loooong time and a lot of experimenting, i had finally been able to somewhat ‘break the color code’ on the similar dark-dark waters in Sweden but had no clue why red somewhere on the fly seemed to do the trick better than other tones. thanks Alan !
as a side note when talking about fly colors, it’s a well-accepted fact that red is the first color to ‘disappear’ in the water column (loose it’s distinctive hue and turn to a shade of grey) the deeper it goes down and conversely, blue will retain it’s hue deepest. true, most Loch-Style flies are designed to be fished pretty close to the surface but i can’t help but wonder how this red vs blue phenomenon is affected by peat-stained water ?
click either pic for the complete article. enjoy !
not a ‘fishing’ insect in the sense that we’d want to imitate them with our flies but one we all must have to deal with at one time or another. it’s not like seeing how beautiful the emerging beast will make us feel any better when the female takes out flesh and blood from our exposed skin but it’s still nice to watch. enjoy !
Stonefly exoskeletons (order: Plecoptera) found near a french Pyrenean river. it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly but i believe them to be of the Leuctra ariega species even if they seem to be a bit too big for that particular bug.
whatever they are they’re beautiful and i know the trouts like them too…
yet another display of an ‘artiste’s’ deviation of what is more than beautiful in it’s natural form, here destroyed by mindlessly adding ‘precious’ items in a fit of irresponsible ‘cleverness’ all the while further continuing the worship created around objects that, once the glitter is washed away are based on slavery, death and keeping poor people poorer.
this is not clever, pretty or interesting. this is worthless, tacky, conceptual trash and nothing more.
nature in it’s very uncalculated manner produces beauty very well on it’s own and it is not a toy for the selfish to play with.
i’ll take my caddis cases ‘au naturel’, thank you…
i’m going off to talk to the trout for a few days next to the Norwegian border and wanted to leave you some creepy-crawly caddis portraits for your enjoyment.
there may or may not be internet connexion but i’ll try to post at least some images during the stay.
and the weirdest and rarest one of all, a USNM Trichoptera
well, they’re small enough to be really hard to see and easily trip over…
anyway, whatever they are, there’s more and more of them in a lot of trout waters around the globe as the typical caddis, mayflies and stoneflies are having a hard time with mankind and what we’re doing to the aquatic systems. midges thrive just about everywhere at just about anytime of the year and in some areas, become the primary food source for salmonids and other bug eating species.
today’s film is chapter five of the seminal documentary ‘Bugs of the Underworld’ by Lisa and Ralph Cutter. yes, a lot of you have heard about it for years but it’s still a reference and an amazing film every freshwater fisher should own and study because we get to see how the bugs we try so hard to imitate look and behave in real life and not how some fly tier steeped in someone else’s tradition decided they should look.
we’ll also notice that the highly sought after ‘dead-drift’ might not always be in sync with what the real bugs are doing. in short, most bugs are a lot more alive than our stuffy imitations.
there are trillions of nice midge imitations out and about but here are a few recent ties that caught my eye.
KG’s Fullback/Foamback Midge…Glissmeyer/Variant…Chocolate, #18-#22
Andy Baird (Andy gets bonus points for the name !)
and just in case you’re one of those flat-earther, keds wearing, climate change denying, bamboo shwooshing mayfly dryfly-only purist types, here’s proof that trout are already drastically changing their feeding habits…
more than just being able to enjoy watching these critters in their watery world, this video shows us some interesting aspects of the naturals that might be beneficial to keep in mind when recreating them at the bench.
while a lot of artificial nymph bodies are rigid, we’ll notice that the naturals bend quite a bit around the abdomen area, specially while swimming. this bend can go up as well as down, meaning that the conventional way of imitating them, with the tail and abdomen bent in a downward position is only half correct.
when they’re not swimming a good number of mayfly nymphs have an enormous amount of movement once again in the abdomen area but this time because of their breathers flapping back and forth to collect air.
many tiers have included these elements in the form of articulated bodies and ostrich herl or cdc breathers, just name a few, but there’s still a lot of possibilities left in fly design. a little imagination and experimentation with different materials just might bring on a new wave of nymph design.
of course, we can rightfully argue (and i’m one of them !) that most of the time, such details aren’t of any practical significance as many imitations that don’t really imitate anything at all are equally effective but i guess that as fly tiers, we’re all after the elusive dream of coming up with the next ‘miracle’ fly, the one that will turn on the fish when everything else leaves them indiferent !