We are now into October which heralds the end of the brown trout season on our rivers. Okay, we will still pick up the occasional brownie whilst fishing for grayling but by law it has to be returned to spawn and hopefully produce young to replenish our beautiful Dales rivers.
Each and every angling friend of mine will or should be looking back over the year and selecting their most successful fly of the season.
We all have our favourites which we use time and time again but once in a while a friend on Twitter or Facebook comes up with another “killer fly”. We then rush to the tying bench and tie up a dozen and put them in a fly box where they disappear into the mists of time.
A few months ago I wrote about fishing the River Tees on the upper beats around High Force waterfall. Just after that trip I was intrigued to happen upon a little book called Fishing Flies for Upper Teesdale which was written by a local Tees fisherman called Harry Vallack.
As expected the flies Harry writes about are our standard North Country Spiders but one fly was of Harry’s own design and a “killer pattern”.
The Black Bug is based upon a well-loved fly called the Black and Peacock Spider but Harry had incorporated a covering or shellback over the body using magpie tail.
In his description Harry states it can be used all year round on rivers or lakes and represents aquatic and terrestrial beetles that fall into the water. So without further ado a dozen went into my fly box.
In the early part of July up in the Dales above Kettlewell, Great Whernside was hit by a cloud burst which moved a huge amount of hillside into Kettlewell Beck and the River Cover, and subsequently affected the Wharfe and Ure with liquid mud which took weeks to clear.
Just as it was clearing at the end of July, I had the great pleasure of guiding American actor Henry Winkler once again at Bolton Abbey but the river level was low and still had cloudiness about it so the fishing was not easy.
We tried the old favourite flies and a few new patterns until that “light bulb moment” struck and out came the Black Bug. No doubt you can guess what happened next, suffice to say if Harry Vallack had been there I might have kissed him. Henry went away a happy man.
So was that a one off? Would the Black Bug do the trick elsewhere?
I had promised myself that I would fish the River Aire at Myrtle Park in Bingley after having heard reports of some good fishing. The fishing rights down there are controlled by Bingley Angling Club so having purchased a day ticket for £1.50 - which for a Yorkshireman is very good value - I set off with various flies.
I will not bore you with the details but once again Harry might have had another smacker on the cheek had he been there.
Every year in August I have the pleasure of teaching fishing at the Field Studies entre at Malham Tarn. This year I was able to dedicate some evenings to fly tying. Yes you’ve guessed it! The black bug is so easy to tie it is ideal for beginners to fly tying. So with black bugs tied up the students were able to fish their own flies on both still waters and rivers with surprisingly good results.
Time and time again I have fished the fly with encouraging results.
I have also taught others to tie the fly with one student swearing he hooked a huge, nay massive fish recently only to lose it due to a poor knot. A fisherman’s tale? Maybe so but the Black Bug is heading to the top of my favourites list for next year.