Alberta Stillwater Adventures

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Hanging Flies - Multi Presentations

When stillwater fly fishing, hanging chironomid patterns under an indicator is one of the most popular if not highly prefered methods of fishing the midge.  This technique works whether fishing the larval or pupal stag of the chironomid although the pupa gets far more attention because of it's slow assent to the surface and availability throighout the water column.  For fisheries that allow using two or more flies, your options open up usually meaning improved success.  When searching for holding depth (the strike zone), a two fly system can both speed up your search and more quickly determine pattern colors prefered by selective trout. Another window that opens up when fishing multi-fly rigs is the option to fish two completely different aquatice life forms at the same time, again increasing the oportunity to hook up.  But whether you're fishing one fly or multiple flies, how you present your flies can also increase your odds.  In this article, I'm going to talk about two of my favorite presentations when hanging flies under an indicator and the little things that can help improve your sucess.


There's a good assortment of indicators available today.  Most of them all work well when fishing up to 12 feet of water but when using longer leaders in the 15 to 20 foot range, these indicators are limiting as they will only let you retrieve you line up to the point the indicator has been sucured and having a trout at the end of a twenty foot leader makes it pretty hard to net without having to physically move the indicator yourself. It's for this reason, stillwater fly anglers prefer a slip or quick release indicator.  These indicators are available in both a round and a tear drop shape and come in a vareity of bright, easy to see colors and sizes.  Stillwater expert Phil Rowley has his own brand of quick release indicators that work perfectly for hanging flies. To use these type of indicators you simple thread your leader through the indicator with the supllied pin inserted.  Once you've determined where you want to secure the indicator, you simply pull the pin, then form a loop in the leader and insert the pin.  Once you have a take, the weight of the fish on your line will pull the loop free and make the indicator relese so it can slide freely down your leader.


Whether using one fly or a multi-fly rig, presenting your flies is important and the knots you choose to use can impact your success.  For years I tied my chironomids using an improved clinch knot to the eye of the fly, then a couple years ago I started using a non-slip loop knot.  This change in presentation has increased my catch rates substantially and I now only use the clinch knot in specific situations.  The non-slip loop knot is not only strong but because it doesn't sinch up to the eye of the fly, it leaves the fly moving freeley and more naturally in the water.  I've used a fairly large loop for the purpose of this article and although I've found the size of the loop does not appear to effect catch rates, I do try and keep them reletively small.  The improved clinch knot still has it's place when chironomid fishing and is used on the bend of the hook when attaching another dropper. 


Hanging flies from an indicator is fairly simple.  When using chironomids I prefer to tie my flies directly below each other presenting them in a vertical position much like the naturals. When using patterns that differ in species like a leech and a bloodworm, try and match how the naturals would be seen in the water.  Here the leech pattern is tied on using a clinch knot from the main leader to the eye and then another peice of tippet is attatched, again using a clinch knot to the eye leading to the point fly seen here as a bloodworm.  By seperating the clinch knots so each has it's own side of the eye, the leech pattern sits horizantally.  This method will work with any pattern where you would want a horizontal presentation. For the purpose of this article, the flies are tied very close together but the seperation between flies is up to the angler and according to where in the water collumn the angler wants to target their flies will dictate the distance between flies usually being two feet or more from each other. 

Hanging flies from an indicator is definately not rocket science.  To improve catch rates however, it may be the little things like knots, horizonatl presentations and using the right strike indicator that can turn a good day into a great day.

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