|Breaking the Duck 2005|
Small and stale, but utterly welcome
Looking at the bigger picture, this chart shows the flies that have taken 50 fish since 2005. Looking at it, you might conclude that the Cascade Conehead Tube and the Ally Shrimp double are the best flies by far as they have accounted for such a high proportion of my salmon. Actually, the fact is that I caught a lot of fish because in the conditions that dictated those fly choices, the salmon were abnormally easy to catch. In 2007 my average was 1.2 fish per day: in the exceptional conditions of 2011 that rose to 1.8. In contrast, in the lean years of low water, when conditions dictated small Stoats or Blue Charms, my average was only 0.2 fish per day. Taken in isolation, this data doesn't tell you much until you set it in the context of what other rods were doing at the same time. That analysis exposes the following deductions:
- In low water Blue Charms and small Ally Shrimps (#12-14, about 5 of the 15) performed above the group average, which was largely based on other patterns. There did not appear to be much to choose between them. However, when using an Ally in low, clear water I tend to cut the tail down to reduce the overall dressed length to approximate nymph dimensions.
- At mid-height (up to about +12") Cascade and Ally Shrimp doubles (#6-10) were close to the group average, primarily because a large proportion of rods were using those patterns. Statisticians call this regression to the mean, which shows that all other things being equal, my performance is about the same as the other rods'.
- In heavy water (+12" - +24"), the Cascade Conehead tube performed far above the group average, which was predominantly based on large doubles, including Cascades. The easily identifiable factors in the out-performance were correct depth of presentation and size in relation to the flow speed of the water. This is because similarly sized and weighted Ally Coneheads worked nearly as well, and very large doubles on fast sink tips less well but above the average in the same periods.
The first is marked 'LOW'
This is the main area: note the chopped-off shrimps at bottom left. You can also spot the dishevelled but successful flies.
This is the lid
I bought the Bombers last September as an insurance experiment against very low water, which didn't materialise, so they've never got wet. You can easily spot the Collie Dogs and Thunder & Lightnings that have caught fish, but to be frank, I've lost more fish on Collies than I've landed. I like the T&L because its sparse dressing allows it to sink well for its size.
I have a box marked 'HIGH', which I don't show because it's only contains a a few large Shrimps and Cascades, and anyway, if the water's up, I tend to choose a tube.
And finally, a little Snowbee spring clip tube box with 9 tubes. It's a delight of good design: palm-sized at 3" x 2"; nice high-density hook-holding foam in the lid; cunning spring clips to hold the tubes fast; and a snip at £20. Its only drawback is that the spaces on the right are shorter and only hold small tubes - most of which I've never used! The Yellow & Black was wandering loose at the time of the photo, and is not a permanent resident. My small collection of 2 Sunray Shadows live in a small plastic bag at the bottom of a pocket.
It's not a lot, but my father always said that most flies are dressed to catch fishermen not fish. If I had any more I would have a decision problem and should have to invoke the Falkus 'hat' selection method. This way I avoid pain in both fingers and wallet, even if I'm not John Norris' best friend.