|article: the possum emerger by bruce smith
Dated: 9 October, 2009
|The Possum Emerger.|
THE POSSUM EMERGER
In the coming months one of the most important insect hatches; the Mayfly, will occur within our waterways. The Mayfly life cycle has five stages, but it's the second stage that we'll discuss here; the emerging nymph. This is the stage where the nymph crawls from beneath rocks, logs, and weed beds to slowly swim to the surface, floating in its meniscus in readiness to again hatch into the dun. When the nymph is floating in the surface film it is very vulnerable to hunger trout because it may sit there for a few seconds or longer before it hatches. Trout really key onto the helpless floating nymph and the fly fisherman with a good imitation fly will definitely reap the rewards.
There are many fly patterns for this stage and the first patterns used go back as far as the 18th century when George Edwards Skues, the father of nymph fishing, developed nymph patterns and techniques that have led to the style of nymph fishing known today. Frank Sawyer was also another celebrated fisherman that made nymphing popular. His work into nymphing went to the point of building a long, narrow wooden box divided into a series of compartments by sheets of perforated zinc. This he fixed in the river with stakes so that the current could run through, and used it for his observations. Many patterns still around today were developed by Mr Sawyer. So as the years have gone by many people have tried to claim nymph patterns as there own, but they turn out to be just variants of established patterns. But every now and then a great nymph pattern is developed, and in recent times one called the Possum Emerger really stood out.
The Possum Emerger was developed by Victorian fly fishermen Andy Scott who has been fly fishing for thirty years and in recent years represented Australia in the World fly fishing championships in Ireland. My introduction to the Possum Emerger began many years ago fishing with Andy in the Tasmanian Central Highlands. The waterway we fished was Lake Kay on a classic cobalt blue sky day, a requirement needed to Polaroid this lake.
Lake Kay is noted for its great mayfly hatches and the day in question was no exception. From the moment we entered the water we sighted many big trout rising to emerging nymphs all over the lake. I quickly cast my normal fishing nymph to the first polarized feeding trout expecting an instant response, but it was instantly rejected. So was my next presentation and the next. Andy on the other hand was having a right royal time hooking and landing one trout after another. Andy shouted from across the water that he was fishing his new Possum Emerger and that he felt its secret was in the flies wing construction, balancing the fly in the right position. At the time I didn't think a flies position on the water would make much difference to a trout's decision to take an imitation and I continued to fish my favorite emerger. After a brief period I was soon to change my mind about Andy's theory as I polarized one of the biggest trout I'd ever seen in lake Kay. It was only a few feet from me and quickly I froze like a statue not casting until the trout was positioned with its back to me. When in the right position, out went my fly landing a few feet ahead of him which the trout instantly noticed. Up the golden coloured trout ascended, stopping its motion just under the fly as if inspecting it, then for some reason swam away never to be seen again. Well I can tell you that scenario certainly taught me a thing or too. At the end of the day Andy had his bag limit, and I, after refusing a Possum Emerger offer, had none, (something I'll never do again). Walking back to the car Andy told me he tied it up one year at the Complete Angler Lodge after an unsuccessful day on Little Pine Lagoon. The following day brought success and every other day fished since. In conjunction with the right construction the wing needs to be tied from Tasmanian possum fur because it is a lot harder than the softer mainland possum fur. The fly also needs to be clipped underneath, flat along its entire length. Another noted feature of Andy's fly is its coloration, exactly like the emerging nymph of the Atalophlebia Australis species. The Possum Emerger has worked well not only in Tasmania but also on many lakes within the mainland. Well lets not sit around talking about it all day, lets tie the Possum Emerger.
HOOK- Size 14.
SILK- Black 6/0 or 8/0.
TAIL- Red cock hackle fibres, splayed out.
BODY- Black orange Scintilla NO- 24 or Black brown seals fur.
WING- Tasmanian possum fur, only.
THORAX- Black orange Scintilla No- 24 or Black brown seals fur.
Firstly at the bend of the hook dubb in a tiny ball of Scintilla no- 24, then take a small bunch of red cock hackle fibres and tie in just above the tiny dubbing ball to splay the fibres of the tail.
Dubb onto your silk a tapering rope of Scintilla, then form a tapering body.
Next, cut a small amount of Tasmaina Possum fur from its skin, then tie in at the 2/3 mark at a 45 degree angle.
Again dubb some more scintilla to your silk and build up the thorax, whip finish and cement the head.
Looking head on to the fly-
With a dubbing needle prick out some scintilla fibres from each side of the thorax to act as stabilising wings, then cut the underbody flat along its entire length.
And there you have the Possum Emerger.
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