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Flies to try


Flies for sea trout and wild brown trout
on the rivers 
Clwyd, Elwy and Aled

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The River

The River Clwyd Catchment

– a very brief overview

The River Clwyd rises in the Clocaenog Forest northwest of Corwen.

It flows due south and then north-eastwards, more or less tracking the A494 to Ruthin. Here it leaves a relatively narrow valley and enters a broad agricultural vale. Just south of 

Denbigh, it is joined by the River Clywedog.

Then the Clwyd meanders northwards through the fertile Clwyd valley to St Asaph, where it is joined by the River Elwy, a tributary of similar size to the main river.

The River Elwy has its source south-east of Llanrwst. It also has a tributary, the River Aled with its source in the upland Llyn Aled.

At the confluence of the Elwy and the Clwyd, the river becomes tidal before meeting the Irish Sea at Rhyl


The two rivers are very different in character dictated by the topography of their respective valleys. The Clwyd is slower, meandering, the Elwy has more characteristics of a spate river. Both attract excellent runs of sea trout, and to a lesser extent salmon. Thanks to voluntary catch and release schemes the wild brown trout fishing is seen to be improving with catches of trout around 1½ – 2lb on a fairly regular basis – and these are truly wild fish.

Our rivers are best known for the excellent sea trout fishing, and to many of you this may conjure up visions of lone anglers tripping through the undergrowth in the dead of night. But to say that you have to fish at night to be a successful sea trout angler is far from the truth – many of our sea trout catches are by trout anglers who have just stayed until dusk, or had an early dawn start. Many sea trout are caught by fly and spinner in the daytime following a spate.

This page features some of the natural flies you may encounter on the rivers in different seasons and suggested artificial flies to try.

There's also a selection of sea trout flies and lures which our members have found successful over the years. 

Flies for


On the river or stillwater

For the novice fly fisher, and many more experienced anglers too, fly choice when attempting to imitate a natural insect can be extremely daunting and confusing. What are the trout rising to? What if there is no surface activity? How the heck do you know what's on the trout's menu? So how can you match the hatch and where would you start?

In his excellent book “Matching The Hatch” Stillwater, River and Stream (ISBN 879 1 85310 822 8) Pat O'Reilly MBE discusses the various groups of natural insects found in our rivers, for example up-winged flies, sedges, stone-flies etc. He describes their life stages from nymph to adult.

7,000 flies – or just seven?

There are thousands of fly patterns to choose from, but Mr O'Reilly narrows the choice down to seven general purpose patterns which he calls “The Magnificent Seven”

In each of the seven groups he suggests suitable artificial flies for the relevant nymph, dun and spinner stages and we have added some patterns and links to YouTube videos.

We hope you will find this section useful.
We'll also feature some of the go-to patterns preferred by our members and some suggestions from Shaun at Foxons. 

Further down this page there's more information about the natural insects than many of us will really need to know, but it's an interesting subject - and if you do feel the need to identify every type of hatching olive you'll need an insect net, a microscope and a bachelor's degree in entomology.

Some of the information in this article has been used with the kind consent of Mr Pat O'Reilly MBE, author of the afore-mentioned book which is available by clicking these links...

First Nature website

Matching The Hatch Book

Also available at Foxons

Group 1: Agile and darting nymphs and stonefly nymphs


MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #1Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear (GRHE) Sizes 14 & 16

Tie with a lead underbody

Tail: Hare's guard hairs

Body: Dark fur from the base of a hare's ear

Rib: Flat gold tinsel

Thread: Yellow
Tip: Pick out a few body fibres

Wing Case: (Optional) Grey feather fibre

Davie McPhail's GHRE


Two of Shaun's go-to nymphs. The Lightning Flash Bug (above) and the Micro Mayfly. Both in stock at Foxons.

Beaded GRHE.jpg

Above: Gold Head GRHE
Below: GRHE as pattern described


Group 2: Dark duns and spinners and stoneflies

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #2Greenwell's Glory Sizes 12, 14 and 16

This Greenwell's Glory Spider pattern is a great olive pattern, and also tied dry as below.

Thread: Light Olive, or Yellow waxed brown cobbler's wax
Rib: Fine gold wire
Body: Tying thread
Hackle: Furnace or Greenwell's soft hen hackle.

1. Run the thread down the shank, not all the way
2. Tie in the gold wire

3. Wind the thread back to the eye
4. Rib the gold wire in the opposite direction that you wound the thread
5. Tie off wire and remove waste
6. Tie in hen hackle (by the tip, not the butt)
7. Wind the hackle (one or two turns only)
8. Tie off and remove waste.
9. Form a small head, whip finish and varnish.

To tie an easy dry Greenwell's Glory, tying is as above except tie in several fibres of the hackle as a tail before adding the rib, and wind the hackle three or four turns for bouyancy.

Davie McPha
il Ties the Greenwell's Glory

greenwells hackled.jpg
greenwells spider.jpg
greenwells classic wet.jpg
Above, from top: Hackled Dry Greenwell's Glory, Greenwell's Spider, and the classic Greenwell's Glory wet fly. Below: Shaun's pick: a Pearly Wickham's.
The Waterhen Bloa (supplied by Foxons). One of the great spider patterns and especially liked by grayling anglers. 

Group 3: Light duns and spinners

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #3Tups Indispensable – Sizes 14 and 16

Tup is the country name for a ram and this fly was so named because the thorax was made from wool from the hair on a ram's testicles, as well as cream seal's fur and lemon spaniel's hair.

Can someone ask our river keeper to obtain some ram's scrotal hair before our next fly-tying session?

The originator of this fly was R S Austin a Devonshire fly dresser. On advice of G M Scues who rated this fly highly, crimson seal's fur was later added to the thorax giving it a pinkish tinge.

For the more adventurous among you here are the approximate tying specifications. It might be easier to follow Davie McPhail's video below, or just buy some from Foxons.

Thread: Yellow
Tail: Honey dun cock fibres
Body: Two thirds yellow floss, one third “Tup's” mixture.
Hackle: Honey dun cock

Davie McPhail tying the Tups

Tups dryfly.jpg

Tup's Indispensable

Group 4: Sedge flies and alders


MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #4Silver Sedge – Sizes 12, 14 and 16

Body: Palmered red cock – ribbed with flat silver tinsel
Wing: Coot or Starling – sloped back over body
Hackle: Deep red cock

Jimmy Tyrrell ties the Silver Sedge

silver sedge.jpg

Group 5: Damsel nymphs
and fish fry

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #5Damsel Nymph – Sizes 10 and 12 long shank

There is a myriad of different patterns and colours used for the damsel fly.


This one (pictured right) as follows:
Hook: Size 10 and 12 long shank
Tail: Marabou (Olive, Green and Yellow are popular)
Rib: Gold wire
Body: Marabou
Eyes: (Optional) Glassbeads or add a gold head bead
Thread: Olive
Legs: Marabou
Wing Buds: Suitable colour of feather fibre (in this case Olive)

1. Attached the glass eyes or bead head and run thread stopping just past the hook point.
2. Catch in a pinch of marabou as a tail.
3. At the base of the tail catch in 3” of gold wire and a few strands of marabou by their tips.
4. Wind the marabou stopping short of the head, tie in and remove excess.
5. Wind on the gold rib, tie in and snip off waste.
6. Catch in a slip of feather fibre projecting forwards over the eyes.
7. Catch in a pinch of marabou tips also projecting forward over the eyes.
8. Form a dubbing thorax.
9. Divide the marabou into 2 bunches and fix on both sides of the thorax by pulling
the feather fibre back over the eyes and over the back of the thorax. Secure with thread and trim to form short wing buds. Cast off.


Peter Gathercole ties his Damselfly Nymph

Damselfly nymph.jpg
blue flash damsel.jpg

Blue Flash Damsel and Davie McPhail's

Mink-Tailed Damsel Nymphs

Davie McPhail's mink tailed damsel nymph

Group 6: Beetles, midges, gnats and black flies

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #6Coch y Bonddhu – Sizes 14, 16, 18

Can be fished dry or just sub-surface.

Thread: Black
Tag: Gold tinsel
Body: Bronze peacock herl
Hackle: Coch-y-Bonddhu hackle
(red game hackle with a black centre stripe and black tips)

Davie McPhail t
ies the Coch-y-Bonddhu

coch y bonddhu.jpg

Group 7: Buzzer pupae

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN #7The Olive Suspender Buzzer – Sizes 14 and 16

Devised by John Goddard

Tail: Small tuft of white wool or floss silk
Body: Olive seal fur or Antron
Rib: Fine silver wire
Thorax: Peacock herl
Head: Ethafoam ball wrapped in nylon stocking mesh, tied in behind the eye.

(Visible and Unsinkable!!)

See this fly tied by Barry Ord Clarke

All of the flies featured on this web page, or the materials needed to tie them, are readily available in good tackle shops and online. In Foxons Shaun, Renee, Nick and Mike (when he's in the shop) are always happy to help with your fly-tying questions.


Green suspender buzzer

- try other colours


This section details some of the natural flies you are most likely to encounter on the rivers Clwyd, Elwy, Aled and Dee and some suggestions for artificial flies for you to try.Although the trout fishing season on our local rivers begins on March 3rd, realistically fishing trips this early in the year can be more in hope than anything. An excuse to look at the river again, practise casting and stretch the fly line! Having said that you'd think the resident trout would be hungry, following the winter floods and while they are recovering from spawning. Their main food source will become more active as the water warms, so it's often mid-April before we can expect any reliable sport.

The March Brown

The natural March Brown is extremely local and occurs on relatively few rivers, however the March Brown is a fly that is fished throughout the UK and many areas have their own variants. It is found in fast-flowing, stony rivers. For an insect with such a restricted range, it might seem surprising that its imitation has become so popular. However, one look at the artificial March Brown and one can see all the hallmarks of a great fly pattern.

The first March brown hatches in early April tend to be sporadic, lasting a few minutes, an hour or so either side of midday. Fish will take a nymph or emerger during a March brown hatch, and a nymph is useful during lulls between hatches.


The trout finds much of its food by grubbing around the weed-beds and at other times by rising in water to take nymphs and pupae on their way to the surface.

March Brown wet flies can represent larval and pupal forms of various aquatic insects; drowned adults or even swamped stillborn flies; and drowned terrestrials such as beetles. Many do not represent anything in nature, but are classed as attractor flies or lures, designed to tempt the fish to take out of curiosity. A number of the silver-bodied variants can emulate small fry or minnows.

A technique that has stood the test of time – fish the fly sub-surface and retrieve slowly using a 'Figure-of-Eight' manipulation of the line in the hand. A floating or intermediate line can be used to retrieve the March Brown.

With a body of dubbed hare’s fur, a hackle of brown partridge and a mottled, brown wing of hen pheasant, the March Brown works extremely well at suggesting a whole range of aquatic invertebrates, including shrimp and hog louse, and the subtle brown hues give the fly the appearance of being something very edible so it works well even when the fish are feeding on nothing in particular.

Try these patterns:

General purpose nymph imitation: Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 12 - 14

March brown Nymph - You Tube

See how Davie McPhail ties the March Brown wet fly

There are quite a few variations based on the traditional march brown wet fly pattern, the most widely used being a silver bodied version.

The pattern can also work well when tied as a spider with a plain collar hackle and no wing, or as a nymph where the wing is applied as a mere stub.


Hook Size 12-14 wet-fly
Thread Brown

Tail Brown partridge hackle fibres

Rib Fine gold wire
Body Dark hare’s fur

Wing Hen-pheasant secondary feathers

Hackle Brown partridge

traditional March Brown wet fly pattern.
march brown - female dun - first nature.

A traditional March Brown wet fly, plus (1) March Brown dry fly, 
(2) March Brown male dun, (3) female spinner, (4) female dun

march-brown-dryfly - first nature.jpg
March Brown - male dun - first
march brown - female spinner - first nat

The Large Dark Olive

Sometimes called “The Lunchtime Olive”

The second early season fly that can bring trout to the surface in April is the large dark olive. I.D. of the large dark olive (LDO) is quite simple because, apart from the March brown, it is almost always the only fly on the water during the first half of April.

The large dark olive is about three quarters of the size of the March brown (body about 12mm long), and it has pale grey wings whereas the March brown has mottled brown wings.

It is generally accepted that large dark olive hatches begin in the autumn and continue right through the winter until mid to late April.

However, in whichever month you see the LDO hatching, it is quite likely to peak between 12.00 noon and 2:30 p.m. BE PREPARED TO LEAVE LUNCH UNTIL MID-AFTERNOON!!

Try fishing a nymph for an hour before the hatch begins. The large dark olive nymph is an ‘agile darter’ - and it is SLIM – so tie your flies accordingly – most shop bought patterns are just too tubby! The nymph makes several forays towards the river surface before eventually becoming trapped in the surface film and hatching. Try casting it upstream of where you think the trout will be lying. They will sometimes take if you lift the nymph as your lines swings around. The nymph swims to the surface and splits its skin, emerging from the water as a “dun”. It settles on bank-side vegetation before it then splits its skin again to finally emerge as the adult “spinner”.

As soon as LDO duns start to sail downstream scan the water for signs of activity in runs and riffles. Look for a nice lengthy run or pool below a long bumpy riffle.  (Riffles are often called "the nymph factory” due in part to the increased oxygen concentration and the stable structure of the river bed which provides an excellent habitat for nymphs). 

Increase your chances by fishing with two flies to imitate two different stages of the hatch at any one time. Try an emerger (partly as an indicator) with a weighted nymph on the tail.

As the hatch peaks change the nymph to a CdC dun and as the hatch slackens off, a spent spinner imitation is worth trying. Spinners frequently get trapped beneath the surface as they float up exhausted from egg-laying.  If you are lucky, this can sometimes extend the window of opportunity until late afternoon.

Try these patterns:

Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 14 - 16

Weighted Pheasant Tail Nymph – sizes 16 – 18

Olive CdC emerger -size 14-16

Greenwell's Glory – size 14

Kite's Imperial – size 14 - 18

Other LDO patterns:
John Goddard’s Super Grizzlies

Kite's Imperial:
Dry fly hook: Sizes 4, 16 and 18
Thread: Purple
Tail: Several fibres of greyish brown cock hackle (Spring) or Honey Dun cock hackle (rest of year)
Rib: Fine gold wire
Body: Heron herl or sub. (Two to four herls depending on hook size)
Hackle: Stiff honey dun or light ginger cock hackle.

Here's Davie McPhail's Kite's Imperial

Pheasant Tail Nymph (PTN) (weighted)

Hook: Size 16-18 TMC 3761

Thread: Black or Brown 8/0

Under body: Lead wire (tapered)

Body and tail: Cock pheasant tail fibres

Thorax cover: Cock pheasant tail fibres

Ribbing: Fine copper wire

and Davie McPhail's PTN

(1) Olive CDC dun, (5) Kite's Imperial - imitating the Large Dark Olive dun, (2) LDO male dun,

(3) LDO female spinner, (4) LDO female dun

an Olive CDC dun.jpg
kites-imperial-LDO dun-FirstNature.jpg
large dark olive - male dun - first natu
large dark olive - female spinner - firs
large dark olive - female dun - first na

The Olive Upright


Related to the March Brown, the Olive Upright prefers rocky streams and the thinner aeriated water on slower rivers. It's very sensitive to pollution so sometimes called the “Canary of the Stream”.

The nymphs live chiefly in the riffle sections of rivers, where they feed either by scraping periphyton from the substrate or by gathering fine particulate organic detritus from the sediment.  The nymphs are usually found clinging to submerged plants and stones, although they may swim if disturbed. 

Hatching is very weather dependent, May and June being the peak months. Emergence of the adults typically takes place from dawn until dusk at the surface of the water.  Males can be found swarming throughout the day but rarely into the evening.  Once mated, the female flies upstream and descends to the surface of the water to release a few eggs by dipping the tip of her abdomen on to the water surface at intervals, or by actually settling on the surface for short periods.  After several visits to the water the egg supply is finished and the spent female falls on to the surface.

Try these patterns:

Nymph: Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 14 - 16


Dun and Spinner: Tups Indispensable – size 12

olive upright - female dun - first natur
olive upright - male spinner - first nat

(1) Olive Upright female dun,  (2) male spinner, (3) male dun, (4) female spinner

olive upright - male dun - first nature.
olive upright - female spinner - first n

The Mayfly (The Yellow May)


The home of the Mayfly nymph is a tunnel which is created in the sand and mud of the riverbed. A distinctive character, the Yellow Mayfly nymph has a long body with three long tails. Their strong jaws mean they are able to feed on plant material that they are able to scrape off the stones and rocks of the riverbed. The female Yellow Mayfly nymph is the bigger of the species, and she can grow up to 35mm.

The Yellow Mayfly nymph moults many times during its life. Their mode of movement (the take in of water that is ejected swiftly to propel themselves) enables them to swim to the surface. Having lived at the bottom as a nymph for up to two years, here at the surface they can move freely but are naturally extremely susceptible. Try an upstream cast with a nymph. Hatches usually take place around mid-May to mid-June.


It is when at the surface that the Yellow Mayfly dun emerges. This means the Yellow Mayfly is able to fly immediately and good weather does enable them to get airborne more easily! Unfortunately bad weather means the delay in getting airborne increases their risk of being eaten up by a passing trout. However once they are free-flying, first stop is a nearby rock or safe place for the final moult to take place. This final stage is known as the spinner when the Yellow Mayfly is able to show its true colours with beautiful shiny sulphur yellow wings. Tip: When fishing with a dun imitation don't strike too quickly.

You may notice courting males swarming over the water. For the unsuspecting female who happens to fly by, a male will literally grab her from below and mate with her. The male however pays the ultimate price and, after mating, the male dies. The female Yellow Mayfly starts laying her eggs almost straight away by flying over the water and dropping her body into the water. Once she has released all her eggs, she too will die, becoming dinner for a lucky passing trout!

The hatch is usually from mid-morning through to dusk.

Try these patterns:

Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 14 – 16

Damsel nymph: – size 10

Tups Indispensable – size 12
Greenwells Glory – size 10 - 12


Tups Indispensable – size 10


Davie McPhail's CDC Yellow May dun

(1) The Yellow May  (2) Male Yellow May spinner

YellowMay - First Nature.jpg
Yellow May - Male Spinner - First Nature

The Medium Olive


Medium Olives generally hatch from May, through June and the hatches can last until August.

The nymph is very agile with a darting movement. They have slim, torpedo-shaped bodies. From an angling point of view they are important not only when Medium Olives are hatching but also when there is no hatch. This is because agile darters swim from one vantage point (a rock or a weedbed) to another, and so the trout have a chance to see and seize them.

When a hatch of Medium Olives begins, trout feed on the emergers - duns escaping from their final nymphal skins or shucks - at or close to the surface of the river. A paler nymph pattern with a more humpy thorax is useful then.

The dun hatches from mid morning until late afternoon or early evening and tends to come off the water in a trickle hatch (unlike, for example, March Browns, which usually come off in flushes). There are at least two generations of Medium Olives on British rivers, and so the offspring of the spring hatch extend the season as well as providing the eggs that will overwinter and provide the spring hatches in the following year.

A perfect fly for matching the Medium Olive dun hatch is that classic dry fly the Greenwell's Glory. The original, the invention of Canon William Greenwell of Durham, was a wet fly, and yet it was proposed as the fly to use when trout were rising to duns. A lot has changed in the 160 or so years since this fly was devised, but in those days dry-fly fishing was in its infancy and most anglers still persisted with wet-fly fishing even when there was a good hatch.


The spinners can give good action until dusk. Fish the fly just sub-surface.

The female spinner crawls down emergent vegetation or onto a semi-submerged rock from where she can clamber beneath the water to deposit her eggs below the surface. Once all eggs have been placed in a neat patch on a rock, twig or leaf, the tired spinner drifts up to the surface from where she may fly off but more often gets trapped in the surface film and dies. At this stage the wings are spread out on the surface like an aeroplane that has crash landed.


The Tups is a reasonably good general imitation of a female Medium Olive spinner (and considerably better as a match for the male!), but it is best fished awash rather than riding high up on the surface of the water.

Male Medium Olive spinners swarm during the daytime and early evening, each no doubt hoping to be selected when a female enters the swarm. Once dusk begins falling the male spinners seem to fade away.


Try these patterns:

Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 14 - 16

Pheasant tail Nymph – size 16

Greenwells Glory – size 16

Tups Indispensable – size 16


(1) Medium Olive male spinner, (2) female spinner (3) female dun

medium olive - male spinner - first natu
medium olive - female spinner - first na
medium olive - female dun - first nature

The Blue Winged Olive


Larger than most other summer upwinged flies.

When imitating Duns cast well upstream of the rising fish. When spinners are being taken you can cast much closer.

The Blue-winged Olive (often abbreviated to BWO) nymphs are moss creepers and although they can swim when necessary they spend most of their formative months crawling within dense mosses or resting under stones where trout cannot easily find them.

A nymph moved slowly across the riverbed is an effective imitation.

It is mainly a fly of fast-flowing rivers and streams. When ready to hatch into duns, BWO nymphs swim up to the surface in open water, and at this stage trout can feed on them in either the nymph, emerger or dun stage.

The Blue-winged Olive is one of those up-winged flies that retain the central tail when they transpose from nymph to dun. Male and female BWO duns look quite similar, with blue-grey wings and grey tails. Males are distinguished by their large chestnut-coloured eyes and brown-olive bodies, whereas females have much smaller eyes and olive-green bodies.

The duns hatch from mid morning until late afternoon, and are most abundant in June, July and early August, although you might see a few Blue-winged Olives in all but the worst of weather between late April and mid to late September.

When Blue-winged Olive duns are hatching in profusion, trout can become preoccupied with these three-tailed little olives to the point where other, sometimes much larger insects are ignored. Matching the hatch is then a matter of choosing an olive representation of roughly the right size.

In fast water any general representative olive should be acceptable.

If you like to tie your own flies to match the natural flies appearing through the season, here is a potential pitfall worth being aware of: The BWO duns that trout are most likely to be able to see and feed on are those that have just left their nymphal shucks and are sitting on the surface of the water while their wings harden and dry. At this stage the bodies are very much paler - light olive-green is a good description - than they will be a couple of hours later. So, if you hunt for specimens in the bushes beside the water its worth remembering that their bodies will be quite a lot darker than those that trout are used to seeing.

On the gentle glides of lowland rivers, fish get plenty of time to decide whether a morsel floating on the surface is a genuine meal or a false alarm. Rising up to thistle down is for tiddlers; wise old trout use their eyes to conserve energy. This is the kind of situation that may call for a closer imitation of the natural insect.

For more accurately matching the BWO dun hatch a favourite is a CDC Dun.

The Sherry Spinner is the common name that anglers have given to the female spinner of the Blue-winged Olive. The orange-brown body colour is rather like a medium sherry.

On spate rivers, Female Blue-winged Olive spinners tend to congregate above the rapid waters between pools. There they swarm just before egg laying, and trout take up station either on the lip of the pool or at the head of the next pool downstream. Each spinner carries its ball of eggs attached beneath its abdomen, and it as it dips and touches the water the eggs drift free and sink to the bed of the river.

A dry Sherry Spinner fished on the riffles where BWO spinners are laying their eggs often tempts trout in the orange glow of a fine summer evening. Matching the fall of spent spinners it is much better if the wings of your dry fly are tied in the spent position.

No body colour reflects orange light better than an orange one, and so tie artificial Sherry Spinners with brilliant orange body material.

Try these patterns:

Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 14 unweighted

Pheasant-tail Nymph – size 18

Greenwells Glory – size 14 - 16

Tups Indispensable – size 14
The Sherry Spinner – size 14 - 16

CDC dun with “Wonderwing” - size 14 – 16

The Sherry Spinner
Hook: Suitable dry fly hook sizes 14 and 16
Thread: Orange
Tail: Grey or light olive Microfibets, or paint brush fibres
Rib: Extra fine gold wire
Abdomen: Rust coloured turkey biot or Flyrite extra fine poly dubbing #5 (rust)
Thorax: Flyrite extra fine poly dubbing #5 (rust) mixed 50/50 with Flyrite #28 (dark reddish brown)
Wing: DNA Holo Fusion white (preferred – stiffer and slightly pearlescent) or Tiemco Aero Wing white

Here's Davie McPhail's sherry spinner variant

blue winged olive - nymph - first nature
blue winged olive - male dun - first nat

(1) Blue Winged Olive nymph, (2) BWO male dun, BWO female spinner, BWO female dun

blue winged olive - female spinner - fir
blue winged olive - female dun - first n

The Large Green Olive

Prefers spate rivers with stony beds and only seen in small numbers – not enough to cause a selective rise. The nymph is a slow moving crawler – a stone clinger. Duns are rarely seen on the water, as the nymph crawls out onto bank-side vegetation and the transformation to dun takes place there.

Male and female spinners are very similar but the male has an unusually long tail.

Try these patterns:

Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 12

Greenwell's Glory – size 12

large green olive spinner.jpg

(1) Large Green Olive spinner, (2) female dun

large green olive - female dun.jpg

The Autumn Dun

The nymphs of the Autumn Dun are stone clingers, similar in size and shape to the nymphs of the March Brown, but mostly they emerge not at the surface in open water but by crawling onto exposed stones in the shallows. 

Autumn Duns are late season flies appearing in the afternoon and early evening mainly in August and September, and are most common on spate rivers.

The duns emerge from nymphs that have crawled out onto semi-submerged stones in the shallows, so are not generally available for trout to eat; however, on very windy days a few of them get blown off their perches and end up on the surface of the water. At such times a dry March Brown is a very effective pattern

On blustery evenings some spinners (males and females) may get blown onto the water; however, as the female spinner lays her eggs from the vantage point of emergent vegetation or stones in the shallows, it is the spent fly rather than the egg-laying spinner that appears prominently on the trout's menu.

The male and female spinners are sufficiently similar in appearance for a single imitative pattern to suffice.

In the typically breezy conditions of autumn you might be forgiven for thinking that drag (where a dry fly skates unnaturally across the surface) is not a problem. Unfortunately the stronger the breeze the more a dry fly and its leader tend to be swept along by the wind. Even though natural insects are buffeted by the breeze, if your artificial fly skates like a high-speed wind surfer the wiser and larger old trout are likely to be wary of it.

Learning how to make a 'wiggle cast', where the leader and fly line land on the water in a snake-like pattern is a very useful skill. To do so, make a cast and, while the line is still shooting through the rod rings, gently waggle the rod tip from side to side. It looks difficult when you see an expert make a wiggle cast, but actually it is a surprisingly easy technique to master. Try it!

Try these patterns:


Gold ribbed hare's ear – size 14


Greenwell's Glory – size 12
Dry March Brown – size 14


Greenwell's Glory – size 12
Pheasant Tail Spinner – size 12 - 14

Davie McPhail's CDC Spinner

autumn dun - female dun - first nature.j
autumn dun - male dun - first nature.jpg
autumn dun - female spinner - first natu
autumn dun - male spinner - first nature
autumn dun - nymph - first nature.jpg

(1) Autumn Dun female dun, (2) male dun, (3) female spinner, (4) male spinner, (5) nymph

The Freshwater Shrimp

Freshwater shrimps tend to prefer slow moving, well oxygenated water, where they can often be found in large numbers. They can grow up to 11mm long and can be found all year round.

Freshwater shrimps are amphipods with a curved, flattened body. They are greyish, green or an orange-brown colour,   and have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae. They live on a
lgae and organic detritus.

The shrimps are a popular food for birds, fish and some insect larvae so they tend to spend most of the day beneath stones and vegetation. They move around by crawling, but they are also good swimmers.  Because of the shape of their body they tend to swim on their sides - hence their other common name of 'side-swimmers'.

In springtime, the males can be seen holding the smaller females as they move through the water.  The females carry their eggs inside their bodies in a brood pouch.


Artificial flies to try:

Gold ribbed hare's ear – sizes 12 – 14

Pheasant Tail nymph – sizes 12 – 14

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If you want to try more general patterns here are a few more to tie or buy!



Use with confidence whenever there are upwinged flies on the surface. Tie in various body and CDC colours.

Hook: Any suitable dry fly hook size 12 – 26
Thread: Various colours
Body: Fine and sparse dubbing in a pale colour
Wing: CDC plumes: Three to four for a 12-14, two for a 16-18, for 20 and smaller use barbs. Vary the colours to suit.

Partridge & Orange

A classic general spider pattern

Hook: A wet fly hook sizes 14, 16 and 18. Straight-eye spider hooks are good (Partridge L3A/S)
Thread: Orange thread which darkens when wet.
(Pearsall's Gossamer 6a)
Rib: Fine gold wire
Body: Tying thread
Hackle: Brown mottled (not barred) feather from partridge's neck or back.

Pearly PTN
Has proved deadly for grayling so why not trout too?

Hook: Size 16 or 18 barbless
Thread: Brown
Bead: Copper slotted tungsten 2.8mm for size 16,
2.5mm for size 18

Tail: Six cock pheasant tail fibres
Rib: Fine copper wire
Abdomen: Four cock pheasant tail fibres

Thorax: Dark hare's ear dubbing
Thorax cover: 2mm clear Mylar tied onto each flank.


Sawyer's Killer Bug

The world's easiest fly to tie!!

Hook: Standard brub hook sizes 10, 12, 14 and 16
Underbody: Reasonably thick copper wire
Body: Chadwick's 477 or 33 mending wool or substitute (Scanfil shade 61)

RASAAA MEMBERS:- If you have any favourite flies for salmon, sea trout, brown trout or rainbows please do let us know. If you lend us one we'll have it photographed and it will feature on here!

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CDC F-Fly, Pheasant Tail Klinkhammer (both recommended

by Shaun. Plus Frank Sawyer's Killer Bug.

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