The White Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear is one of the all time great effective classic patterns. It is a 'must have' fly in everyone's fly box. It is not an imitation of a particular insect but a general representation pattern that takes fish again and again and again.
GOLD RIBBED HARE'S EAR FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 10 12 14 16 18 20 - $US each
I would not be without it. We have increased our range to 12 variations to suit all water conditions and color. It's shaggy appearance resembles many species of nymphs when they shed their skins or "shucks" as they progress into the next stage of their life. In the past to make this pattern more of a killing machine fly fishermen used to tease out the fur below the thorax to make it resemble legs. We have left that natural fur untrimmed on purpose, to help in the deception. The occasional long hair coming from the body will assist fooling the trout that your fly is alive as the it moves in the water. Too often you see neatly trimmed Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymphs for sale in tackle shops. Those fly manufacturers are missing the point. The more scruffy this fly is the better it is at catching fish.
It is a very old pattern and has certainly been around for over two centuries. No one knows with certainty who originally designed the fly but it is attributed to the Victorian tyer James Ogden. It is believed that Frederick Halford popularized the pattern in the late 1880s as a dry fly, but later dismissed it as it did not represent a specific insect. The vogue at that period was for flies to match the hatch exactly. Traditionally, to give it it's bug like appearance, the pattern used fur from a hare's ear, mingling the longer guard hairs with the lighter colored under fur and dubbing for a body. Rabbit fur is easier to obtain and now more widely used. The mayfly nymph can be imitated quite well with a large gold ribbed Hare's ear. It can be fished either weighted or un-weighted. If greased, it floats and provides an excellent imitation of large, hatching mayflies and caddis fly pupae. The most common method of fishing this popular fly is on a dead drift. The nymph is cast upstream and allowed to drift with the current. This is a most effective short-range technique and takes are usually seen as a splash at the surface. The Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear has proven it's effectiveness in lakes. Fished very slowly near the bed of the lake it is particularly attractive to brown trout. Along with the pheasant tail nymph it is one of our most ordered flies. Both flies should be in your fly box in different sizes and shades.
Some nymphs are classified as crawlers. They live among rocks and debris feeding on vegetation. They have well developed legs that enable them to crawl along the bottom of the river without getting swept away. They stay hidden among the rocks and debris and are seldom available to the trout. They are not very good swimmers. If they do lose contact with the river bottom they can drift for long distances before sinking to the bottom again. They are very vulnerable if this happens. A Gold Ribbed Hairs Ear Nymph or Pheasant Tail Nymph is ideal as a nymph imitation for these insects. On rivers where the water surface is broken or there is a lot of fishing pressure, you may find the trout more cautious and feed exclusively on drifting nymphs ignoring anything on the surface. If you see drifting and flying duns but no rises this is what the fish are doing and you will need to change tactics from surface dry flies to nymph fishing. The best way to choose your nymph imitation is to collect a few samples of the natural insect from the river or stream bed and match the size and color. Remember to look at them up to the light to see their true color as seen by the fish. Trout normally attack their prey from below and will look at them against the light of the bright sky. Nymphs that look black in the hand turn out to be brown or olive when the light is behind them
There is a trout feeding pattern that you should always be on the look out for. The tell tale sign is when you see a fish tail popping out of the water. The fish is head down in the weed, sometimes ripping out the weed with its mouth, trying to disturb all the shrimp, nymphs, pupa and scuds that have sort refuge in the weed. This is where they live and feed. This is the only way trout and grayling can get at weed imbedded insects and crustaceans. The fish dive aggressively head long into the weed mass with the object of panicking the residents to make a dash to an alternative place of safety. This is what the fish are after. They start to feed on all the fleeing food forms. Do not cast when you see tailing trout. Wait until the tails have disappeared and the fish are hunting. The harvesting of panicked insect phase is when the fly fisher can make the most impact. Place your fly in the feeding zone and let it let it drift at the mercy of the current and to tumble about just like the naturals. Give a short sharp strip to imitate them fleeing to escape.
I've preached "use generic flies" for probably 40 years now and usually do pretty well when I go fishing. The more "generic" the fly is the wider the areas where you can use it and the more fish you can catch. For generic think along the lines of the Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear. That pattern, tied in size 14-18 and various colors from black to nearly white, will cover too many different emergers to count. Same goes for the chironomid. by Phil Hager