FLY OF THE MONTH- October 2018
The Wendouree Bug - Old Red-Eye
(Details from Mick Hall, fly tied by Dale Flenley)
The hours of daylight are increasing, the weather is warming, and for those who fish our stillwaters, the dragonflies are appearing. In other words, mudeyes (dragonfly larvae) are swimming ashore and hatching. So, let’s talk about a mudeye pattern this month. The following notes have been provided by Mick Hall, and while he is writing mainly about the mudeye hatches on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat, this fly will work anywhere there are dragonflies.
According to Mick Wendouree is an amazing piece of water. It is a truly massive food bowl, with extensive weeds beds that have created an environment almost beyond belief. The insect life is mind-blowing, and there are vast populations of scud, galaxia, midge, damsel flies and mudeyes, along with a growing population of mayfly.
During the daylight saving months the Ballarat Fly Fishers hold an event called ‘The Stan Burt Competition’. It is held on Monday nights, with the fishing starting at 6:00 pm and finishing at 11:00 pm. The rule is simple - the longest fish caught wins.
As I write, with just a couple of weeks to go, the winning fish thus far is a 56 cm brown. It was caught by Danny Forde and was taken on a new version of Old Red-Eye.
In 2014 I wrote the history of mudeye patterns here in Australia and this article can be read in issues 133 and 134 of Freshwater Fishing magazine. A few months later we sold our property at Eildon and shifted to Ballarat - just in time for the start of the mudeye season. Reports were coming in of good fish feeding on migrating mudeyes just after dark. Naturally I just had to check it out.
(The picture here on the below shows what they were after - Bug Mudeyes.)
On my first night out a few trout started taking mudeyes just on 9 pm. Old Red-Eye
took a redfin of about 375 grams, and then I lost a good fish just before giving it away for
One thing that worried me about the design of my fly, however, was that it was sinking
too quickly and catching in the weeds. So I added a foam collar/hood to the pattern so that it would sit higher in the water column.
At a subsequent fly tying night at the Ballarat Fly Fishers, Dale Flenley and myself, who were conducting the session, introduced Red-Eye to the members. And it took off.
The next night on the water two trout were caught and released - a brown of just over a
kilo and a rainbow just under a kilo, and I was happy with the new design. Danny then
caught that great 56 cm brown.
So here is the updated version of Old Red-Eye, which I renamed the ‘Wendouree Bug’
(Corduliid). The pattern is tied as follows:
The Wendouree Bug, an updated Old Red-Eye, as designed by Mick Hall:
Hook: Partridge Wet Heavy Supreme, size 4.
Eyes: Red or Black glass beads.
Collar or Hood: Soft EVA Foam from Clark Rubber - 5 or 6 millimetre wide and 25mm
long, tied out over the eye.
Body: Enrico Puglisi Black Streamer Brush wound to shape and trimmed.
Thorax: Spun trimmings from shaping the body.
Legs (optional): Black rubber or Spirit River Tarantu-legs - black with blue markings.
Note: the EVA should be soft enough to scroll up into a ball and bounce right back again. Mine was grey in colour but I used a black marking pen to contrast it with the body. Does the Eva Foam make this fly float? Well, the answer is no, but it slows its sink rate down and allows you to control the fly, especially in heavily weeded water.
Tying Procedure (as tied by Dale Flenley):
- Put the hook in the vice and lay a good base of thread on the shank.
- Trim the foam to the shape in the photo above and tie it in behind the eye with about 12mm - 15mm hanging out over the eye of the hook.
- Thread two red (or black) beads onto a short length of monofilament line and tie them in on top of the foam behind the eye of the hook, checking to confirm that you can see the eyes from the front, before tying them down firmly.
- Cut about 25 mm off each side of the brush and tie these in for the tail.
- Tie the brush in at the end of the hook shank and wrap it forward for about two thirds of the shank length, teasing it out as you go.
- Tie the brush off at this point with three or four half-hitches and cut off the rest of the brush.
- Remove the fly from the vice at this point and do a rough trim to shape the fly, keeping the off cuts for dubbing for the next step.
- Place the fly back in the vice and restart the thread behind the eyes. Add some dubbing and dub back to the brush, building up a thorax as you go.
9. With your thread at the two-thirds mark (step 5 above) fold the foam back over the body and tie it off.
10. Add some head cement to the thread then remove the fly from the vice and do your last trim to shape.
11. Legs can then be tied in, but this is optional. … the pattern with legs added.
Fishing the Wendouree Bug
Close to dark the mudeyes start to migrate and the trout start feeding on them. Sometimes you may not see them but you can certainly hear them. As the mudeyes move closer to the bank the fish follow them in. At times on Wendouree the trout feed so close to the bank they can be easily seen with a torch. A lot of mudeyes get eaten by these fish but a lot more make it to the trees.
Another important observation noted during these migrations is that the mudeyes have to move through the water close to the surface because of the thick weed. So what was needed was a pattern that sits high in the column, hence the development of the Wendouree Bug.
Some mudeyes actually sit doggo on the surface film for a while. Why? Well I guess only they know.
The photo here shows Dale tying the fly shown in the photo.