Paul Caron Stonefly

It’s not often that a fly pattern makes such a huge impression on me – but this unlikely looking bug (at least to European eyes) has done just that. And I apologise to my Canadian and North American friends who will be yawning just about now.

While classed as an important group of patterns in the Maritimes, Im pretty sure that over here in a world of Shrimp Flies and Tubes of all shapes and sizes, this style on it’s unassuming single hook and unconventional looks has gone pretty much unnoticed by many. Though I have heard rumours about this fly scoring on a certain Scottish river.

First designed and introduced by Lee Wulff, this pattern offers a very different silhouette than any other salmon fly and is designed to be swung high in the surface. The original used a melted plastic body that was used to seal in and trap the hackle. The picture below is of an original Lee Wulff Surface Stonefly pattern from the early 80’s and shared courtesy of a friend of mine Per Stadigh. It illustrates just how much the original has changed over the years.

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There are a whole assortment of variations out there, some with flash, some with foam bodies, different coloured hackles etc. The common component between most of them being the method of attachment of the hackle. In most cases this being a bent pin with a retaining bead, though I have seen examples using a heavy Mono or Fluorocarbon post with a melted end to retain the hackle.

Bright Fluro Green body with a black wing seems to be the common theme though there are versions with white over wings etc. Hackles I’ve seen vary from grizzle to badger in all sorts of qualities.

The version I’m going to describe is called the Paul Carron Stonefly and is based on examples I’ve fished with and conversations with David Bishop, President of the Gaspe Fly Company who introduced me to the pattern and manufactures the fly commercially.

Dressing

Hook- Lightweight single hook, here I’ve used a Partridge N.

Body- Fluorescent green floss, built up to a cigar taper and strengthened with a coat of “Hard as Nails” which also tends to deepen and hold the colour.

Wing- The original used dyed black bucktail taken from the centre part of the tail that would be brown on a natural tail. This hair tends to flare less and is more manageable. The wing on the original was mounted to flare flat over the top of the shank rather “than tied in the round” like a standard hair wing. I guess to provide more support on the surface action on the swing. In this case Ive used black squirrel.

Hackle post- The butts of the winging hair are posted. Im sure this is an important variation as its lighter in weight than the pin and bead method. And just as secure it seems.

Hackle- On the examples I’ve seen they have all used Silver or Blond Badger. Personally Im not sure of the importance of this and as you can see I’ve used a Dirty Badger, as it was the only similar hackle I had to hand in the correct quality and size.

As a note on hackle, although I didn’t discuss it, all the examples I saw used excellent quality, stiff and sharp hackles, similar to those you would use on dry flies.

Paul Caron Stonefly (slight variation)

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It’s important to attach this fly in-line with the tippet to keep it tracking in the correct attitude, a double turle knot being perfect for the job. Apart from that, as far as I can see, its fished down and across just like any other wet fly (though Ive heard mention of greasing it and fishing it dry, maybe thats why the hackle quality is there?) Depending on the weight of the current, it seems to either fish just subsurface or is very visible tracking in the surface. Not unlike a hitched tube but less pronounced. More subtle perhaps.

The takes are very visual and heart stopping, explosive in the surface with fish boiling at the fly. On several occasions recently, I’ve experienced a fish coming to this fly repeatedly before finally hitting it hard. Wonderful fun!

When we finally get some water I’m going to give this fly a serious tryout on my local river (the Usk, in South Wales) Im really looking forward to that and I have all sorts of variations floating around in my head that I’m going to try on the Towy for Sea Trout this summer.

Mainly I’m thinking black and silver with a little flash (well I would, wouldn’t I) – Its just got to work!!

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff on a hook for fun just can’t be normal.

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“if I only had one fly” – Steffan Jones

Steffan and I both hail from West Wales. In Steffan’s case he is based in the town of Llandysul, around which flows the wonderful River Teifi. His interests are many and varied and interestingly have evolved from his inability to draw or paint and failure to play a musical instrument. This has led him to Photography and DJ’ing as outlets for his obvious creative streak.

“I can capture something with a lens that I would not be able to with a
canvas and brush – well, I probably could, but it would bear no resemblance
to the subject!”

And his DJ’ing has taken him as far afield as Hong Kong and Argentina.

He fly fishes extensively both locally and various Worldwide destinations for trout, grayling and salmon. However, his first love, like many Welshman is fishing for (sewin) sea run brown trout – particularly at night.

On many winter days you can find him, shotgun in hand, working his Cocker Spaniels. Which provides a fine selection of fly tying materials as well as food for the pot. Which is not a bad thing as nothing goes to waste.

His first introduction to our sport was via a long established youth scheme arranged by the Llandysul Angling Association (www.fishing-in-wales.co.uk) that gives free tuition to kids each year as an introduction to fly fishing and fly tying. Indeed his tutor, a local man called Peter Jones is still giving lessons to this day – some 25 years after the young Steffan passed through his class.

” I owe him a lot and he is also the gent that started me off sea trout fishing many moons ago” says Steffan.

Steffan is unusual in that although highly educated to MSc level, he chose to try his hand at earning a living from fly fishing knowing he had his qualifications to fall back on. And many years later has still no need to blow the dust off his degrees.

He now guides professionally throughout West Wales http://www.anglingworldwide.com and also arranges fishing holidays worldwide for http://www.aardvarkmcleod.com.

“The industry has given me some magical experiences and taken me to locations that I could not dream of affording to travel to, for that I am eternally grateful and long may it continue…”

Steffan has lot of ‘go-to’ patterns, but they tend to have one thing in common; they utilise a minimum amount of ingredients and can be tied quickly. A man after my own heart.

“Fly casting and fly tying to me are both enjoyable aspects of the sport, but
they are very much a means to end and that end being fishing. I’d rather
spend time on the water than at the tying desk, so the flies need to be
quick, but ultimately practical and fit for purpose”

His favourite sea trout fly is a pattern he devised some 15 years or so ago named the Daioni (Dye-ow-nee) It is specifically designed as a dropper pattern and is very effective, especially in the latter half of the season.

“daioni” is a Welsh word that translates to mean ‘to do you good’ or ‘goodness’.

The Daioni

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Hook: Partridge streamer (D4AF) size 6 or 8
Thread: Veevus 8/0 black
Body: medium silver holographic tinsel
Rib: silver wire
Body hackle: white cock hackle, palmered
Wing: black squirrel
Head hackle: Nature’s spirit grizzly collaring hackle in flu.blue

“One of the key aspects of night fishing in my eyes is silhouette and profile. Whereas the majority of patterns give a pretty streamlined presentation, this patterns keeps it ‘bulk’ and, therefore, presents a thicker and stronger silhouette. It is also fantastic fun to fish this on a full floater in the height of the summer, when it fishes just subsurface and the takes can be pretty explosive on it. Anyway, most certainly a pattern that I would never be without.”

I asked Steffan if he had any advise for novice tiers……….

“Thread control! Why do five wraps when two or three will suffice? It is also
a bit like juggling (not that I can juggle, I hasten to add) but you need to
be able to keep two balls in the air before you add the third. Don’t run
before you can walk and really concentrate on the basics. If you can master
some simple flies first (i.e. the analogy of keeping two balls in the air)
then that is key, then move on (add the third ball), develop and master new
patterns and techniques. Do not be afraid of asking for criticism, but then
take it well when it is received – the last thing you want and need is false
praise as you will not advance from that”

Steffan with a near 20b Sea Trout that took a Bunny pattern in Argentina.

Steffan Jones
Steffan Jones

Many thanks Steffan, It was a pleasure talking with you.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just can’t be normal.

No Jungle Cock were harmed making this fly

For sea trout or sewin as we call them around here (sea run browns) you cant really get better than a fly that’s black and silver. I’m prepared to bet that most Sewin fishers have something similar in their box.

Tie this simple fly in a range of sizes from 2-12 on single hooks, double hooks, metal tubes, plastic tubes, waddington shanks, whatever.. And you’ll have a great box of fishing flies season round.

The wing can be squirrel, bear, bucktail. fox or as in this case, possum. Or indeed a mix. The flash is optional, best tie it in as you can always take it off if its too bright on the night. I’ve seen guys cut Jungle cock off Sewin flies because they think its too much.

While we are on that subject, you can see that no Jungle Cock were harmed in the making of this fly. Its not that I don’t like it – but so many of these flies end up in trees whilst fly fishing at night. its just too damn expensive!

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A trio of black and silver sea trout lures, all size 6, tied on Partridge Bomber hooks.