The Red Holographic Diawl Bach is one of my favourite early season cold water nymph fly patterns to use on a dropper as part of a team of three nymphs. Diawl Bach, is Welsh for ‘little devil’ and this version of the devil fly has a lot of red in it’s design.
DIAWL BACH NYMPH FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 10 12 14 16 18 20 - $US each
I might add a red bloodworm pattern to one of the other droppers and put a beaded black silver ribbed epoxy buzzer midge nymph fly on a curved hook on the point. Always put the heaviest fly on the end as it helps with tangle free casting and keeping the droppers swimming at the correct depth by keeping the leader straight.
On large lakes and reservoirs, the period between February to April and in some locations even May, the water will be at its coldest. You have to deal with this challenge. Because it is cold everything moves at a slow pace under the water. You must adapt your fishing style to match. Your retrieve, your team of fly’s movement and the way your line moves must be slowed down. The metabolic rate of a trout or grayling slows down with the cold to conserve energy. Too much heat also slows down fish activity. They have a preferred range of water temperature in which they feel happiest to hunt and be active. They do not like extremes of heat or cold.
The following fishing tactic can be deployed when it is cold and conversely when it is hot as well. I call it the static nymph. In cold water conditions depth and location are the key to a good days fishing. Tie your team of three nymphs on droppers under a big dry fly pattern or strike indicator so you can detect nibbles. If you get no joy at the depth you are fishing your nymphs be prepared to add or reduce the amount of line so your flies search the water column to find at what depth the trout and grayling are feeding.
Try to get local knowledge about the physical properties of the lake or reservoir you are fishing. Find out if this still water has any shelves. This is a place that provides shallower water compared with the rest of the lake but has an abrupt drop to a deeper area. I find that the fish like these locations in the early part of the season. They seem to feel comfortable here and feed confidently close to the bank.
Don't try casting too far. I normally find most of my fish within 10 feet from the bank. In and around old well established reed beds are fertile grounds for finding fish willing to investigate your red holo Diawl Bach nymphs and red blood worm flies. Dead drift your team of nymphs. Allow your line to go slack so the flies sink deep in the water column. If you add tension to your line the team of flies start to lift and do not fish at the required depth. The leader trails at a 45 degree angle rather than straight down vertically.
Takes can be very subtle. You have to keep your eye on the strike indicator or floating dry fly for unnatural movement. Make a conscious note in your head of the correct angle of drift. Look out for any sideways movement that is divergent from the natural line of water flow. To this and any other movement that looks odd, strike hard to hook up.
The wind direction is an important consideration when choosing where about on the lake to fish. Do not stand in a location where you are fishing into the wind. It is hard to cast with the wind blowing against you but more importantly the trout and grayling will avoid those banks where icy winds drive into them. They are the coldest places as the wind drives the colder surface water towards that bank. When it hits the obstruction the cold water sinks. The fish do not like this type of environment.
The red holo Diawl Bach nymph is a useful fly to use when there are bloodworms in the water. The lava of some species of midges (Chironomidae) that live in oxygen-poor or stagnant water are called bloodworms. Their red coloration is due to the presence of haemoglobin in their body fluids. They live either on the bottom among debris inside small tubes made of a gelatinous substance coated with silt particles or some types swim freely. They are an important source of food for many freshwater fish. There can be as many as four generations in a year. If the water in your area has bloodworms you will also need the Red Diawl Bach or Holo Red Diawl Bach in your flybox. It is ideal to use when the bloodworm hatch into the flying insect after its pupal stage. Fish these bloodworm flies deep and retrieve it very slowly whilst quivering your hand.
Fly fishing the feeder stream
In spite of my bias towards boat fly fishing in larger Scottish and Norwegian lochs, lakes and reservoirs I was impressed with the amount of hard fighting fish that can be found at smaller lochs like Orchill Loch near Garrick, Scotland.
Trout can be caught on a variety of methods. Hatches of midge buzzers, alder, hawthorn fly and caddis are abundant at certain times of the year. To add interest for the fly fisherman the nearby sand quarry is the summer home to migrating sand martins that can be seen at close quarters swooping over the loch surface to pick up insects on the wing.
After a welcome cup of coffee in the comfortable lodge I had a wander around the loch’s shoreline. I spotted fish moving near where a feeder stream, known as a burn in Scotland, emptied into the loch. The water was clear near the shallows which gave me a chance to see what was available for the trout to feed on.
One of the regulars in the lodge had advised me to keep to the west side of the Loch during the day and then walk over to the east side in the evening and late in the season. The burn mouth was on the west side and there were a few shore fishing platforms empty.
After a few casts using an intermediate line and a single olive damsel fly nymph, the line tightened. A powerful rainbow trout of just over 2lbs leaped clear of the water surface. It fought like a demon before I could slip my net underneath it. What a great way to start a days fishing. It was the first of five trout that morning that ranged between 1lb 8oz to 3lbs.
Fishing near where a stream enters a larger body of water is always a good tactic especially after recent rain fall. Surface terrestrial insects, like ants, beetles, grasshoppers and daddy longlegs get caught up in the force of the water and rushed down stream. Tiny insects and worms that live inside the earth come up to the surface when the earth gets waterlogged and are also washed away into the lake, loch or reservoir.
The fish pick at this new food but some of the carnivorous aquatic insects like damsel nymphs also congregate in this location to feed on the fresh food in good oxygenated water. They in turn a predated upon by hungry trout hence my decision of choosing an olive damsel nymph fly to start with.
In the evening I changed location, as suggested by the locals, to the eastern shoreline, and tied on a beaded flash back pheasant tail nymph as a point fly and then used some holographic Diawl Bach nymphs on the middle and top dropper. My logic was that in the reduced light the flash and holographic material would reflect any light there was to attract the attention of nearby trout.
I had a take on the point fly early on but lost the fish in the ensuing fight. This happened again about 20 minutes later. I finally caught my last rainbow on the middle dropper and managed to guide it to the net. Other Anglers recorded in the Lodge fishing report book that Epoxy Buzzers (red and black) plus Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymphs also caught fish that day. If you are a big Stillwater fisherman try a smaller loch, lake or reservoir for a change.