Stalking the wild trout

My favourite fly fishing is stalking and sight fishing Tasmania’s wild trout rivers and streams, particularly the lowland or meadow streams.

Red Tag specialises in fly fishing these waters with experienced anglers and introducing our extended or advanced fly fishing workshop pupils to them.

The fish in the rivers and streams of the meadows usually start rising (to the dry) in early October, beginning of the Mayfly season, and continue to be sighted or seen feeding off the surface, weather depending, right through our season till mid to late April.

Blue damsel

Blue damsel dry fly

The Blue Damsel is a longtime development. My mate Graham and I started experimenting with the colours and sizes, etc, many moons ago, after we had been consistently frustrated by these wildly leaping browns taking these bright blue and green version Damsel flies in mid-air.

Having played around in the kitchen getting various dyes to produce unusual shades of blue and green, we finally had the first sample of Blue Damsels to try out.

It was so successful the trout kept the first one to study at close quarters on the first cast of the first fly we had tied. It is also the only fly I have take a fish on in mid-air, but that’s another story.

The main thing is the tie represents the insect in flight not at rest like most of the commercially-tied varieties.

The Pink Bum Grasshopper

Pink Bum Grasshopper Fly

Our Pink Bum Grasshopper is a variation on one of Peter Leuver’s Badja hopper series from his book Fur & Feather.

Why the pink bum you may well ask?

This is my addition after having watched a large number over the season clinging on to the windscreen wiper while driving slowly through rough grassy terrain and noting their distinctive pink rear end from the trout’s perspective.

Early morning damsels

Damsel fly

Shot on an early summer morning prior to getting out over the water and annoying the wild browns. I know most people tie up their imitations to copy this form.

I believe that the fish take many more Damsels and Dragonfly on the wing so to speak.

Therefore my pattern is designed to ride very high on the water and look like a hovering or surface dappling insect.
 

 

 

 

The mighty Red Tag

red Tag trout fly

The history of the Red Tag fly makes interesting reading.

As I understand it, the original fly pattern was first developed in England as a Grayling wet fly, before the idea of dry (floating) trout flies was introduced.

Then around the mid 1800s one of the English fly fishing squires and his gillie were discussing fly patterns and decided to try the Red Tag as a dry fly on the local trout.

It worked a treat and so the Red Tag as we know it was established. If anyone has anything to add or another story on the history of the Red Tag fly drop me a line in the comments below.

My first fish on the Red Tag fly was part of a frustrating process, as in the days when I was learning to fly fish it was very much on my own from a book.

Hence it was three steps forward and two back each time out. In those days, no CDs, videos, etc, and it was damned hard to hold a 150-page book in one hand and practice casting with the other.

After a year I finally got a small rainbow to take my Red Tag and hang on to it. This is it I thought, my first fish on the fly. But no. I had not had the practice at landing one had I, so here I am midstream leaping and chasing a very wild trout.

Decide to beach the fish, get to the bank, fish still very frisky, get hand under it, up on the bank, now I’ve got you, but no again, fish spits fly, bounces off wader boot and disappears upstream never to be seen again.

It might be a bit each way as to an ‘official’ first trout, but it was in hand, on the bank and I called it a beginner’s first effort at catch and release. What it did do was get me hooked on fly fishing for life.