Kieron Jenkins brings you three stillwater lures that have plenty of movement to wake up those early season rainbows…
As many have said over the past year or so, we really are the Snake fly generation… Although Snake fly patterns have been around for numerous years, only now, possibly with the increased usage and coverage from social media, Snakes have become the norm among small water enthusiasts as well as reservoir anglers looking for stocked fish and fry feeders.
However, this particular pattern is slightly different as it features a Marc Petitjean Magic Head, a small, flexible plastic cone which fits over the front of the eye that causes the fly to swim with a distinctive left to right action, imparting more movement into a Snake than ever before. Although a relatively new pattern in my fly box the Magic Head Snake has become my ‘go-to’ Snake pattern on small waters.
Wintertime sees our quarry slow down and become somewhat lethargic with the cold conditions. Fishing your flies slowly, be it a lure or a nymph, is usually the way to go and there’s nothing different with a Snake; a slow figure of eight on a sinking line is essential.
Be that as it may, rabbit isn’t a very good material to fish slowly. Even though it’s extremely mobile, when fished slow the long soft strands of rabbit fur are heavy and tend to collapse, losing almost all mobility in the fly, this is where the Magic Head comes into play. The plastic cone forces the fly to ‘swim’ however slow you may retrieve. The side-to-side action of this pattern simply proves irresistible to trout, and this can be the slight difference between catching or not on the extreme days of winter.
1) Ensure you use a thin but strong braid for attaching the two hooks, this not only adds more movement but also allows you to create a slim profile when tying.
2) You can cut a small ‘V’ into the bottom lip of the Magic Head, this alters the swim pattern of the fly, so does flexing the head back over the tying to create a cone. These are very versatile products that can be used on anything from small water lures to saltwater patterns.
3) Keep your Snake flies between 6-8cm in length, any longer and you lose all the momentum from the cone, rendering it pointless on larger patterns.
The Flesh Fly Snake Booby follows on from the Magic Head Snake in terms of movement. Fishing slowly can force the rabbit to lose all movement, hence here, the use of Mink… Fishing deep on still waters, especially those such as Farmoor, keeping your flies close to, but suspended off the bottom (or out of the weed) is key. Mink has a less dense and shorter fur than rabbit, allowing it to keep its shape when fished slowly – often the reason why fry patterns are tied with mink too.
Inevitably, fatalities from stocking and even poorly caught and released fish is a thing, but this isn’t all bad for us anglers. Over the years, especially on concrete bowl type venues I’ve caught trout, which have fed on fish flesh, and when this happens, mimicking this couldn’t be easier. Simply fish flesh patterns (pink/coral and white) close to the bottom as slowly as possible.
The addition of large booby eyes gives the fly an undulating movement when fished on heavy sinking lines. When pulled fast the fly will dive down following the path of the fly line, and when stopped or slowly retrieved the fly will rise.
1) Use a large booby eye for this fly, although we’re using mink for the wing it’s still heavy when wet, so the 6mm plus foam eyes will help keep the fly suspended under the water.
2) Snake braid (which will be available soon from Fulling Mill) has an extremely thin diameter/breaking strain ratio – allowing the back end to ‘wave’ and flow when moved. It also enables you to create thinner bodies on each hook.
3) 5-7cm is ample for this type of fly. I find that Snakes tied longer than this become very hard to cast. I’m a firm believer that if a fly is easy to cast you’ll fish it better.
Small water trout simply love olive. Whether it’s representing a damsel nymph or used as a lure to entice and provoke a take, olive is always on the recommended fly board at any fishery.
This fly has been particularly successful for me when fished on a floating line with a sink and draw retrieve. Cast the fly out, let it settle, and gently draw the fly back with a steady strip. The tungsten bead on the head will force the fly to sink quickly between each pull, often the time a fish will hit the fly.
The long marabou tail mixed with green flashabou creates an extremely seductive flutter, a combination I find effective when others fail. A perfect pattern to fish as a single fly on a long leader or as part of a nymphing setup close to reeds or drop offs.
1) Ensure to use a tungsten bead at the head, the extra weighted compared to a standard brass bead will give this fly the movement it needs to entice takes. Also, try changing the colour of the bead to Fl Orange or even Black for effective variations.
2) Use the best marabou you can find. The softer more mobile the herl the more movement it gives out, Veniard supply some of the best on the market for the price, along with a good variety of olives.
3) When tying in the marabou, pull the short herls from the stalks of the feather and brush (against the core) with a wire dubbing brush. This removes all the thick fur and allows you to tie in the solid quill without adding bulk.
Born and raised on the rivers and lakes of south Wales, Kieron Jenkins has become one of the leading competition anglers of our time. With multiple ‘Brown Bowls’ under his belt, along with a creditable fourth position at World level, fly fishing and fly tying has become his life, passion and obsession for Fulling Mill’s Digital Marketing Manager.