Craig ties a handy fastwater nymph.
I’ve been competing in various Australian flyfishing teams at the international level since 1995. In this time, there have been three teams which have consistently performed at the highest level. One of those teams is Spain. This often surprises general flyfishers, as Spain is not promoted as a bucket-list angling destination. However, the rivers flowing out of the Pyrenees are cool and clear, and hold wild brown trout. In part due to the clarity of their home waters, these browns are difficult to fool. Therefore, Spanish anglers have had to develop skills and techniques to undo these tricky fish. (As an interesting aside, some countries with the best / easiest fishing do not necessarily perform consistently well at the elite competition level.)
Faced with clear, skinny rivers, Spanish flyfishers require extreme stealth and exact presentation to be successful. Similarly, these conditions often demand that the angler use small flies and exceptionally light tippets; sometimes as fine as .09mm. To get small nymphs to depth, Spanish anglers have developed a unique style of nymph called a Perdigon. Perdigon nymphs are bead-headed, with a slim body coated with clear varnish. Therefore, the fly is very dense for its size and offers less resistance to the water than a traditional nymph. This helps the angler to present exceedingly small flies at greater depth, or even larger flies deeper than was previously achievable. I often use a Perdigon nymph when fishing small nymphs under dry flies, or when trying to get a nymph to depth in fast, turbulent water. Australian rivers such as the Thredbo and upper Meander come to mind.
Due to their design, true Perdigons have no built-in movement, so they rely on flash and colour to attract the fish’s attention. Some tiers do add a small amount of dubbing behind the bead to offer a little movement in the fly: e.g. the Sirupchik, used so effectively by the Czech team.
When I’m Euro nymphing, I usually fish a Perdigon nymph on the point, with a more mobile nymph such as a Hares Ear on the dropper.
Last autumn, I was fortunate to fish the Goodradigbee River on an old school mate’s property. He invited me to join him and his wife to try our luck. I had read so much about this river with its rich angling history, yet I’d never had the opportunity to fish it. Yes, I was extremely excited!
Whilst I was there, Victoria went into another lockdown and my friends had to return to Canberra. With no good reason to head home, I stayed on and enjoying excellent and relaxed fishing. The river has a good population of small rainbows and some larger browns. Most of my fishing these days is catch-and-release. However, I kept a few delicious rainbows as I only had limited supplies. I’d forgotten how good a freshly-caught trout is, cooked in a fry pan with butter, lemon juice and a sprinkle of pepper.
My two best-performing flies were a Peacock Krystal Flash Perdigon, and the Carrot Nymph (which will be featured in a future column).
Hook – Jig size 14 to 18.
Thread – 0/8 Fluoro Orange.
Tail – Cock de Leon
Body – Krystal Flash, Peacock
Bead – Tungsten slotted
Varnish – Clear ‘Hard as Nails’
1. After slotting on the bead (with the hole to the front and the slot to the rear) tie in a small bunch – no more than 6 fibres – of Cock De Leon for a tail. Length should be two thirds of the length of the hook shank.
2. Next, tie in 3 to 6 strands of Krystal Flash (depending on the hook size) and wind forward, creating a carrot-shaped body.
3. Then tie in a few turns of tying thread to create a small orange collar.
4. Finally, whip finish and coat the entire fly except the tail with two layers of clear ‘Hard as Nails’.
Notes: Beads and hooks
I put the following size beads on these jig hook sizes:
– 4mm slotted bead – size 14 hook.
– 3.5mm slotted bead – size 16 hook.
– 3mm slotted bead – size 16 hook.
– 2.5mm slotted bead – size 18 hook.
With the smaller hook sizes, use lighter gauged hooks. Some jig hooks are too heavy gauge, which can impede hook penetration when using light tippets. Some of the top competition anglers are using light gauge dry fly hooks to help here, although this can cause problems for the typical angler when an oversized brownie comes along!