May 4, 2013

Allen Afield: Better start fishing because May flies indeed


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This bogus mayfly looks authentic enough to fool most any freshwater trout with an insatiable appetite for aquatic bugs.

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This coming week, one favorite hatch goes by the Latin name Ephemerella subvaria, but fly rodders call them Hendricksons or red quills after two dry flies that imitate the duns.

These names create a headache for editors and writers, because the natural bugs are generally lower case and the flies that imitate them upper case. So, we use a "Red Quill" to imitate an insect that we call "red quill." Hendrickson is uppercase whether it's a bug or fly imitation, because it's a proper noun. The fly's originator, Roy Steenrod, named that pattern after his friend, A.E. Hendrickson. You can see the problem that wrestling with proper vs. common nouns causes writers and editors.

Let's forget the grammar stuff, though. It's a great month for fly rodders to imitate mayflies with dry flies, emergers or nymphs, often dead-drifted in the current. In dead-drift presentations, success depends on the fly traveling at exactly the same speed as the flow, resulting in fast action that can make us feel like the second coming of the late Ernest Schwiebert.

The best part of May fishing is this: The hatches take place in afternoon when sunlight shines brightly and life just feels ever so good. Serious fly rodders live for May emergences, and that time is here and now.

Ken Allen, of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at:


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