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article: mudeyes and the fly fisherman by bruce smith
Dated: 6 June, 2007
A nice mudeye feeding trout.

The sun’s heat was beating down hard. My shoulders felt like they were burning. Everything was hot, still, and motionless. Sweat trickled into my eyes and down my back. Even though we’d been fishing for most of the day not a single trout was taken or sighted. It was midday on Lake Eucumbene within Frying Pan Arm and things were looking bleak, maybe all the reports were right!

As we drove up from Melbourne everyone at shops, garages, and local tackle shops told us that Eucumbene wasn’t fishing well and that we were wasting our time.
Looking at the surroundings sure seemed to fit the reports and Andy and I decided to end this daytime session making our way back to camp at the caravan park. We decided while having dinner to wait until the evening rise and then begin our fishing with more intensity. Evening came quickly and again we were at our favourite spot waiting for some trout movement. During this wait we noticed many people at different locations beginning to arrive with the intention to fish a lake that wasn’t fishing well, maybe a few porky pies had been told.

Just before dark we became bored and began to blind fish this section, but again our efforts were in vain and I’d sort of gave up, sat down on a nearby rock and just watch the calm water surface. Twilight and a beautiful orange setting sun started to make up for the poor fishing and within the same time I noticed a ring from a rise that sparked us to attention. As the minutes continued the rises became greater in number. It’s amazing how you get a new lease of life and all tiredness leaves you as the trout start to feed.

Wading out to position I tried hard to see what the trout were feeding on and received the answer from Andy who yelled out the mudeyes were hatching. I discovered after having looked in my fly boxes that I only had one pattern that imitated the hatching mudeye and that fly was a Corduliid fly. This fly was developed by fly fisherman Fred Dunford and is in my opinion the best mudeye pattern there is in imitating the hatching stage. Its construction is made from deer hair clipped to the shape of a mudeye and this is what gives the fly floatation. Added deer hair fibres are tied in, to represent the legs and then ingeniously black duck feathers are tied in over the body and the head, and I say ingeniously because these black duck feathers absorbed water bringing a high floating deer hair body, down to float right in the surface film, just like a natural mudeye.

Naturally with this my only mudeye pattern, I tied it to my leader and out it was cast into the near dark surrounding’s landing near the rising trout I’d seen. Letting the fly settle I soon employed a strip, strip, pause retrieve and I think on the third strip the line went tight and I was fast into a nice sized trout that was soon landed.

This really sparked Andy to fish on, and after my fourth Rainbow he wanted to know what fly I was using. I told him, but he didn’t have one. I guess you can work out what happen next, Andy wanted one, and luckily I had a few to share. Within minutes of receiving this new pattern Andy started catching trout.

It was amazing how well the corduliid worked; I even had a couple of trout take my fly only a foot or so from me, most of the rainbows were half kilo’s to a kilo in size but boy could they fight. Andy hooked into a big trout only to lose it at his feet.

This fishing continued on for a few hours and we weren’t the only ones that were having success. Across the bay we could hear people yelling out that they were on, due to the lake having a mirror surface and easily carrying the sounds of people’s voices. It truly was a night to remember for a mudeye hatch and the corduliid fly, and for the majestic sights seen.

Wooden Structure good mudeye habitat.

Mudeyes are a stable diet for trout and their numbers can really become large (see Lake Pedder section) They start off as an egg hatching into small larvae that throughout the autumn and winter grow through a number of instar or moults to attain the largest larvae size. Then within early spring and autumn, the now term mudeyes crawl up structures like trees, reeds, fences and even a wading fishermen to slowly hatch out into the adult form, the Dragonfly.


Within the larvae or mudeye stage two species are most commonly found, they are the couta and spider mudeyes. The couta which is larger than the spider has a dark brown to black colouration, which is obtained through living its larvae life under the darker cover. The spider mudeye is small with a bright olive green colouration gained through its life amongst weed beds. The spider mudeye is in greater numbers than the couta and as such are more readily taken.

Trout feed on mudeyes before they hatch, but during the early period of the mudeye’s development the mudeye will be hiding under rocks, logs, tree bark, and within reeds and weed beds. This will make them less of a target to the trout, but once they adventure out the trout will take them. Fishing in this period will produce chances for a trout or two so the best tactic is to get your fly down deep more or less hugging the bottom. Search for areas where trees abound and those areas where weed beds are plentiful using if needed sinking lines in intermediate, slow, or fast.

Expect to snag up and lose a few flies every now and then, but you’ll know you're fishing the right area. The more productive time to fish your mudeye pattern down deep will be within the period of spring and autumn when the natural is scurrying about in readiness to crawl to the surface, again target the areas mentioned above. There are a few fly patterns that’ll imitate mudeyes nicely with the most popular pattern being a Craig’s Night-time tied from the feather of the southeastern swamp hen.

This pattern can be worked down deep due to its water absorbing materials and gives off a beautiful mudeye shape. Another excellent pattern is a fly called the cruddier this fly is a variation of the Corduliid, which I will discuss more about later. The Cruddier is also tied from nice water absorbing materials and will get down deep within the water column. The Fred fly is another great mudeye imitation with its big eyes the most notable factor but, it is also tied from chenille aiding in it sink-ability.

The Fred Dunford Corduliid fly

As we know the hatching period commences within spring and autumn and this is where the mudeyes are most vulnerable, crawling from cover on the bottom then travelling up trees, reeds, and to the surface film. It’s now that we need to sight or target rising trout, as in the above story where you have trout feeding to abundant hatches, just cast out to the rise, give your fly a twitch and get ready for some fishing action.

The need for floating fly lines and long leaders is obvious but, now is where you will need to change your fly patterns. There are many successful patterns available but in my opinion the Corduliid tied to Fred Dunford’s recipe is sensational. Floating right in the surface film and imitating the natural to perfection this fly always catches trout.

When fishing this fly you can cast to the rise or you can retrieve the fly with a strip, strip, and pause action. Invariably the take from a trout will come on the pause and within any period throughout the retrieve.

Most people will find that from twilight through dark is the best periods to fish, but sometimes daylight hours will prove successful it’s just a matter of observing the area you intend to fish.


Once the mudeye has found an area above water to hatch out into the adult form, it turns into a big winged Dragonfly that we always see. If ever there was a stage of an insect to bring big trout to the feed, this is the one.

Many times in my fly-fishing life I’ve seen trout up to ten pounds leap clear of the water engulfing these big flying insects. In retrospect those occasions have always occurred on lakes and it is a fantastic sight. That’s the good news, now for the bad news. They’re impossible to catch, and until someone invents a fly that can hover, we’ll just sit back and watch this amazing action. However when the dragonfly has died and lies spent on the water surface, a parachute dragonfly with its parachute hackle will sometimes work, it has worked before for me, but the number of times could be counted on one hand. To fish this stage you have to be on the water when the adults are dieing which is a big call, and cast out to the rise and just let it sit and wait for a take.


How many of you know Lake Pedder? Well there was always a Lake Pedder; the old and beautiful Lake Pedder that was situated within the Frankland Range of Tasmania. Its greatest feature was the sandy beaches that encircled the lake. Then with the on going development of the hydro electric power scheme the government of the time decided to dam the Gordon River, the Serpentine and Huon rivers. This flooded the old Lake Pedder and a great deal of land surrounding it, to be then called the new Lake Pedder as known today.

It was this flooding of new ground that created an abundant amount of food that the newly stocked trout took advantage of. One of the most abundant insects of the time in the lake was the mudeye and the trout grew to unbelievable sizes. At one point in time the average sized of a trout was 10 pound, and many stories give accounts of the great mudeye fishing that was had.

Bait fishing with the natural mudeye and also with mudeye imitations produced many trout captures with quite a few in the twenty-pound range. For a great account of the Lake Pedder fishing read the book by Ned Terry called The Great Trout of Lake Pedder.

Mudeye feeding brown trout

Almost all waterways will have some degree of mudeye life, but I will inform those that aren’t in the know, of a few lakes that contain big numbers of Mudeyes.


Before Bendigo city on the Calder Highway one will find the town of Harcourt and to its north lies the reservoir, which is the prettiest lake one will see. Surrounded by numerus trees and extensive weed beds the lake produces excellent trout fishing and at the right time of the year mudeye fishing. The weed bed and the many half sub-merged trees within the lake is the reason to the great mudeye population.


This lake situated near Maldon and Newstead is massive in size and harbours large numbers of half sub-merged trees especially when the lake is low or half full. The last hour of light normally starts off the hatches and can run through till the early hours of the night producing great size trout. In fact this lake would be my recommendation for anyone wanting a trophy size trout.


This lake is situated near the country town of Maryborough and is surrounded by light forest and grazing land and like Cairn Curran the lake has good numbers of sub-merged trees and weed beds. The trout do attain a big size due to it not receiving trout stocking for many years, but that has now changed with it recently receiving fingerling stocking. Again when fished at mudeye time great fly-fishing can be had.


What can be said about this lake that already hasn’t. It produces mudeye fishing like no other lake. It has all previously mentioned habitats that mudeyes need to produce good hatches which can occur throughout the day and extensively throughout the night. Eucumbene is a must go to lake when the mudeyes are hatching.


If you haven’t tried fly-fishing mudeye imitations for trout, then you are missing out on some great action. When the action's on, it’s explosive and fast, but not only that, you will delve into a new field of fly fishing that’ll will take you to different surroundings and in different conditions. All the right ingredients to turn you into a better fly fisherman.

For the tying of the Corduliid fly go to my web site at the below link entitled In Natures Realm.

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith Fishnet Pro Angler
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Reports brought to you by Bruce Smith Images- In Natures Realm
Phone : 0419 553 228

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