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.
caught in a puddle of this disgustingly sweet anis-flavoured apéritif, little did our little midge know that it would be the death of her, specially when drank pure instead of the more traditional preparation consisting of four parts cold water and maybe an ice cube or two. live and learn.
a gorgeous moment from Ben Pierce. enjoy !
an excerpt from Mayfly – a life story by FishOnProductions, enjoy !
or enlarged views of the ‘angler’s curse‘.
just that common name alone should get our attention even if it sounds a bit masochistic fishing-wise, even for those of us who love a challenge !
“When the important hatches of Tricorythodes were first discovered by anglers, Caenis was given the credit. We now know that the Caenis mayflies are a different group, smaller and less common in trout streams, and they hatch in the evening instead of the morning.
They very rarely elicit selective feeding, but when they do they’re very tough to match because they’re often much smaller than size 28. This difficulty has earned them the nickname “Angler’s Curse.”
simple enough to say, even if these early observers didn’t have a watch or map… what comes out in the end in practical terms for us fly anglers is these thingies are very-very small and their proportions are completely off from the larger mayfly species as they have stout bodies, specially the thorax and long tails and antennae and the wings tend to sit out on the sides ‘spent-like’ instead of the usual top: basically the trigger points we’ll want to recreate when tying these flies.
here’s some reference vintage plates of our beautiful little friends to use while we’re at the tying bench. enjoy !
and just because its so cool to see details millions of times bigger than life size,
angler’s curse quote via TroutNut.com
vintage plates via Google Images
i couldn’t help but grunt and shout PUSH ! PUSH ! PUSH ! 😆
it’s cool-weird, interesting in general and fly tiers might learn a thing or two. enjoy !
a couple of what where probably happy chironomids encased in amber while doing the do several zillion years ago.
let this be a reminder to be sure to be our best at all times should this sort of thing happen to us, you never know if someone might reblog your frozen acts in the distant future…
“Entombed in amber the tiny springtail can be seen resting in a v-shaped depression at the base of one of the mayfly’s wings. It appears to have secured itself for transport using its prehensile antennae.”
as if anyone really cared about a 1mm long hitch-hiker that no fish in it’s right mind would even consider eating and much less, any self-respecting fly angler would try to imitate…
as geek as the article’s intention may be, at least we get to admire the image of a beautiful sixteen million year old bug worthy of all worthies: a mayfly with some nice bubbles to boot !
even though he didn’t do it on purpose, big thanks to Dr Dave Penney, University of Manchester for bringing this lovely creature back to life. (sort of)
if you want to know more on the boring hitch-hiker click the pic.
- Anal Hooks
- “I look into … my fly box, and think about all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: ‘Ninety percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about five-eighths of an inch long.’”
“Many doctors fish for trout, but there have been endless arguments over the best choice of fly. To extend evidence based practice from their professional into their leisure hours (where it might conceivably be more useful) Britton et al ( p 1678) carried out a randomised trial of five different dry flies (artificial floating flies) on the River Kennet in Berkshire. Before the trial the investigators had most confidence in the Grey Wulff and least in the Cinnamon Sedge. In the trial the Cinnamon Sedge caught the most trout and also seemed to be significantly favoured by brown as opposed to rainbow trout. These findings are of biological as well as practical importance, but the trial was small and the authors press the urgent need for much more research.
None of the investigators has any intention of taking the slightest notice of the results of this study.”
quote via troutnut.com
what a conundrum !
on one hand, we have flies like the one above based on LaFontaine’s Emergent Sparkle Pupa. it’s a classic in all its variants, it repeatedly catches fish all over the world:
it’s a go-to fly but it’s also based around elements that are more of a pipe dream than reality.
caddis pupa aren’t surrounded by some mysterious ‘force-fieldish’ type haze or veil as they’re working their way towards the surface and then there’s this ‘issue’ of a self-produced air bubble to assist them in reaching the surface that seemingly no entomologist has been able to observe in any considerable percentage (most haven’t observed them at all… ) meaning that this sometimes bubbly occurrence can’t be considered a biological fact, further meaning that from a practical/logical standpoint, this freakish element of a fly’s design is hardly worth considering.
but then once again, this fly works very well and that’s the interesting part because it seems to me that it entices but not for the reasons we might think, further proving that the common saying “try to think like a fish” is bunk because a) fish don’t think, and b) we don’t even know how we think so it seems kinda dumb to be randomly transposing guesses and wishes onto creatures that can’t tell the difference between a ragged mess of fluff bound to a hook and the real thing.
and then on the other hand, we have the doctor’s example where even though a certain pattern entices fish more, it’s scoffed for some mysterious reason and i’ll venture that reason is that they didn’t believe in/have faith or simply denied the cinnamon sedge’s mojo (even though the smarter docs caught most of the fish with it)(oops ! that implies the others weren’t very smart. oh well… )
ok, the doctor’s example is hardly scientific and can’t be considered as anything really serious but i chose to cite it here because it’s an example of a group that has a higher-than-most education level based on science and science is usually based on facts yet here their judgments seemed to have been based on tradition, which in turn, makes this all the more interesting because this very same approach goes way beyond education or social status and can be found in all levels of people all over the planet, so if anything, we can leave logical reasoning out of the equation.
how does this happen ? why is that ???????
well, apart from just a few of many more possible ramblings mentioned above, i don’t have a clue and since this subject might be a good one for the Physiological studies à la Freud department, don’t expect any answers from me but if you want to see what is yet another great tying tutorial from Curtis Fry at Fly Fish Food on tying this awfully successful yet ‘make believe imitation’, ignore all this and click below. enjoy !
video by Necip Perver
for whatever reasons (like we’re busy fishing or they splatter to bits on our windshields or because the darn things move around a lot and fast) it’s pretty hard to have a good look at these magnificent creatures.
they’re not only a mix of beautiful, cool, robust yet delicate insects with a fairy-like appearance hiding a fierce demonic attitude (that’s the cool part), they’re also fish food and pretty big and yummy fish food at that.
i’ve often seen lake trout jump out of the water to catch these bugs as they’re flying by and it’s been an ongoing challenge of mine to catch one doing just that: false casting a dragonfly pattern low and in front of cruising fish with an upside-down loop to get an airborne take. there’s been a lot of missed-timings and even a few missed strikes, so, it hasn’t worked yet but the quest continues !
as seen in the film, some dragonflies sport a half-clown/half Hitleresque mustache (that probably explains the demonic part and who knows, that detail might be the real ticker in getting the perfect imitation !). anyhow… enjoy !
dragonfly (and other beasties) drawing by Wenceslas Hollar 1646
title quote ～ Homer Simpson