Craig ties a big wet – the Humongous.
Back in 2002, I was captaining the Australian team competing in the World Fly Fishing Championships, based in the small town of La Bresse in France. La Bresse is located in the heart of the Ballons des Vosges Regional Park, not far from the German and Swiss borders. With all the charm of a French village, La Bresse is one of the more unique places I have been fortunate to fish. It was possible to catch brown trout and grayling in the Mossel River, which runs right through the centre of town. You could hop out of the river in the town square and enjoy a coffee or café lunch!
With team manager Ian Gilbertson, I had visited La Bresse 12 months earlier, gaining information on the waters to be fished and organising accommodation for the team. We’d found it difficult to locate suitable accommodation, however in a stroke of luck we came across a run-down chateau, two streets back from the town square, which was in the early stages of restoration. The two French girls who had recently purchased the chateau assured us it was available to rent and would be ready by the following year. The only catch was, we would need to book the entire establishment. As a sweetener, they offered us a very good rate as we were to be there first booking. To make the arrangement financially viable, I contacted the captains of the Scottish and USA teams, who I had befriended at previous competitions, and sublet them a floor per team.
When we returned a year later, the now beautifully-renovated chateau provided excellent accommodation and the girls proved wonderful hosts. The three teams got along very well and many friendships were made. Unusually for a World Championships, the great communal atmosphere meant all three teams openly shared information. We met the international CDC guru, Marc Petitjean, who the Scottish team had engaged as their team’s fly tier. Marc’s use of CDC was a real eye-opener to us and has heavily influenced my fly-tying and fly selection ever since.
During the competition, the Scottish captain Ian Earl and I exchanged information on techniques, strategies and flies. One fly that Ian showed me was the Humongous, which his fishing mates were using with great success on Loch Leven.
Upon returning to Australia, I fished the Humongous with very good results. It is a particularly good early and late season pulling fly for brown trout. I normally fish it on the point combined with a Magoo on the dropper, 2 metres apart. The original Humongous was tied in silver with bead-chain eyes. I have found for Australian conditions that the silver tie works best in clear water, with a gold version better in discoloured water. Simply substitute all the silver ingredients listed with gold ones. A 3.5mm bead can replace the bead-chain should you wish your fly to comply with FIPS Mouch regulations.
Hook – Hanak 200BL, size 8*
Eyes – Medium Silver Bead-chain
Thread – 8/0 Black
Tail flash – Silver Sparkle Flash
Tail – Black Marabou
Rib – Medium Silver Wire
Body – Medium Silver Chenille
Palmered body – White Indian Cock hackle
*Traditionally the Humongous is tied on a heavy size 8 wet fly hook, although it also works well in smaller sizes if required.
- Tie in the bead-chain eyes at the eye of the hook. I like to apply some superglue at this stage to help secure the bead-chain.
- Next, tie in 6 to 8 strands of silver Sparkle Flash to the top of the hook shank.
- Then tie in a generous clump off black marabou, leaving the tail quite long, approximately 3 times the length of the hook shank. Break off the marabou tail to length with your fingers and trim the Sparkle Flash to length.
- Tie in silver wire the full length of the hook shank.
- Tease out the core of the chenille, tie in the stub of the chenille at the bend of the hook, and wind forward to the eyes, making a smooth body.
- Tie in the white cock feather immediately behind the eyes. Make two turns immediately behind the eyes, then spiral back to the rear of the hook with 3 more turns of hackle.
- Catch the hackle with the silver wire, winding in the opposite direction back through the hackle. I like to bring the wire right through the bead-chain eyes. Catch with your tying thread and break off.
- If some of the hackle is pointing towards the front of the fly, force backward with wraps of thread behind the eyes.
- Finish off in front of the eyes with a whip finish, and seal with head cement.
Although it originated in Scotland, the Humongous has gone on to be a very effective fly all around the world. Thanks Ian for showing it to me, I owe you one! (By the way, the Australian, Scottish and US teams finished 8th, 9th and 10th in the World Fly Fishing Championships that year, with the French team winning Gold.)