The gold colored beads add weight to the Zugbug nymph fly. After a few hours with a fly rod you understand the necessity for adding weight to small Zugbug flies
NYMPH FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 10 12 14 16 18 20 - $US each
Trout tend to feed on midge larva and nymphs near the streambed. We all know that fish also look for emerging pupae as they float to the surface but consistent angling results rests in getting your flies to where the hungry fish look for their next meal, most of the time and that is near the bottom. To do this you need Zugbug flies that sink. Because the bead is at the front of the Zugbug fly it is this section that dives to the river floor first when the line is paused on the retrieve. After casting the Zugbug fly try retrieve, pause, retrieve, pause. This helps animate the Zugbug fly and makes them more attractive to the trout.
The Zugbug fly pattern was originally designed by an American called Mr J.Cliff Zug who lived in a town called West Lawn on the east coast in Pennsylvania. It has been said that it is a variation of a nymph called the kemp bug. For me it is one of those must have flies that rates along with Pheasant Tail nymphs, Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear nymphs and Prince's nymph that you must be included in your fly box. It is the use of the green peacock herl with it's efflorescent qualities that makes it so alluring and successful. It can also be used as a stonefly imitation. The Zug Bug hopes to imitate cased caddis and caddis larvae. That is why it has the cigar-shaped body. We use wire wraps on the middle of the shank helps give the fly its proper profile and give added weight. The most identifying feature of the zugbug is the wing-case that is only tied down at the front. Peacock herl plus sword is used for the body and tail to make it more attractive to hungry fish. If a sunbeam shines through the water it will reflect off the shinny gold bead head and Peacock shine. This should help in catching the eye of a predatory trout.
FISHING FOR WINTER GRAYLING WITH A BEADED ZUGBUG
In December the grayling tend to congregate in deeper water. There are three main factors that determine how many fish you catch. In late summer and autumn, with the fish widely distributed over shallows and pools alike, your principle concerns were to conceal our intentions, cast with finesse and to offer a fly they will accept. In colder water conditions the considerations have changed. You have to find the shoals, prevent a fly at the right depth and ensure that you can detect any takes.
Grayling are nomadic by nature, moving up and down river according to temperature and water conditions. In hard frost they will choose the deepest pools provided there is a healthy flow of fresh water at the pool head. They can be found huddling together in small groups but sometimes in shoals numbering in the hundreds.
You might imagine that so many fish would fill the area, so that you were certain to be covering them no matter where you cast. Yet grayling often pack together so tightly that only one part of the pool is occupied; maybe just to the side of the main current in slacker water or at the pool tail. Weirs and hatchholes are popular shoaling areas, but you may find the fish alongside one wall only, or in the undertow beneath the race itself. Any deep areas which are sheltered by overhanging trees are also worth looking at.
Any change in the weather pattern, a slight rise in temperature perhaps or a lifting of cloud cover, may encourage the grayling to spread themselves out in a looser shoal, even appearing near the shallows if the winter sun breaks through.
In cold conditions grayling are normally reluctant to rise far off the bottom, so you have to search the depths to find them. A Beaded Zugbug nymph presented on a slack line, either across river or slightly upstream, so that they sink without hindrance to the required depth.
The slower the current, the more quickly your bugs will sink, especially if you are using reasonable fine nylon. I normally use a 3-4 lb line, remembering that the casting of a heavier fly, as well as the somewhat fiercer nature of the grayling’s take in winter, can weaken the point in no time.
When your Beaded Zugbug nymph has been given time to settle correctly and it is fishing through the pool at the desired depth you are likely to start getting takes. If you luck out then fish through different parts of the pool. If that does not work, repeat your casts but fish deeper.
I find it pays to fish first in mid water, say four feet down in a pool of seven to eight feet deep. This way you catch any fish prepared to rise, the take will be more positive, and you will not alarm those lying below.
It is best to stay in the same spot when you have had a take or two, rather than search for a new shoal in a different location. You may have a hundred or more grayling within feet of your position, and eager to feed, so try not to scare them. Play and net each grayling carefully creating as little disturbance as possible. Rest them quite frequently. Open up your thermos flask and have a celebratory cup of coffee after each catch. That ten minute break could be all that is required.
Grayling will fed at almost any time of the day during the winter, given suitable war conditions. I have found however that 10.30am to 12.30pm and again from 3pm until dusk can be especially productive. The takes are often more positive during the morning. Deep nymphing is arguably the most challenging of all fly fishing methods but once the skill is mastered, there are few more rewarding techniques.