[Article & Photos by Ted Fauceglia]
After you neatly pack and store all the Christmas decorations, and the out-of-town relatives and friends are safely back home, you finally get the time to focus on the coming fishing season. Preparing for the new season is a lot of fun, and a lot of work. For me, it starts with a check of all my equipment and gear. Lines and waders are particularly important to me; I don’t like cracked or blackened lines, and I really dislike leaky waders. But to be sure, I spend the majority of my preseason time at the tying desk, trying to improve existing patterns and attempting to devise new ones.
Like most dry fly enthusiasts, I direct my early season tying efforts almost entirely at the mayfly and caddis hatches, with mayflies getting most of the attention. I’m not sure why, but it seems the fish’s selectivity for mayfly patterns increases every year. For this reason, and just in case the trout are even more fickle, I try to tie exact, species-specific patterns for all the stages (nymph, dun, and spinner) of my mayfly patterns. Notwithstanding the fact that I go through this every year and have accumulated a backlog of patterns I’ll probably never use, I have an incurable passion for creating better patterns.
TF’s Hare’s-Ear Clinger Nymph
HOOK: Tiemco 5262, sizes 12 to 16.
THREAD: Camel 8/0 Uni-Thread.
TAILS: Lemon wood duck breast feathers.
ABDOMEN: A mixture that’s three parts #4 Hareline Hare’s Ear Plus Dub and one part rusty brown Wapsi SLF Squirrel Dubbing.
WING CASE: Dark brown wild turkey quill.
LEGS: Picked-out dubbing on each side of the wing case.
HEAD: Camel 8/0 Uni-Thread.
Unfortunately, save for the summer Trico, sporadic blue-winged olive, and late-season white fly hatches, by June, mayfly hatches have diminished to the point that they are no longer my focus. Terrestrials and midges are my primary dry fly targets. But there is some sporadic mayfly activity that needs to be addressed. Lesser members of the Heptageniidae family of mayflies hatch throughout the summer. And while the adults (Light Cahill look-alikes) hatch sporadically, their hatches are sparse and have rarely induced more than an occasional “rise.” There are, however, enough Heptageniidae nymphs present to warrant a nymph pattern that has annually worked for me as a “searching” fly.
Heptageniidae nymphs are known as clingers. Measuring from 12 to 16 millimeters long, they have flattened bodies with broad, blunt heads and muscular, spiderlike legs. Their strong legs and three long tails enable them to freely navigate in fast water, where they live and flourish. Their colors range from a light to dark mottled tannish red-brown. Contrary to the species-specific nymph patterns I tie for the spring mayfly hatches, I don’t tie a nymph pattern that specifically represents any of the late season clinger species. Instead, I tie and carry a supply of size 12 to 16 Hare’s-Ear Nymphs.
The Hare’s-Ear Nymph is a staple of my nymph collection and easily one of the most productive all-purpose go-to nymphs that I fish. But just in case the trout get a bit selective and fickle, I alter the fly just a little by adding a wing case, brushing out the guard hair under the wing case to represent legs, and adding a pinch of reddish-brown squirrel dubbing.