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Fishing with Buzzers

Nick Hart offers advice regarding one of the most deadly flies of all time - The Buzzer

If there is any one fly pattern that a still water Trout angler should never be without it is the Buzzer. This is the common angling term used to describe a series of flies that imitate the all important Midge or Chironomid lifecycle that forms a massive part of the Trouts diet. All stages are important starting with the Bloodworm.

The Bloodworm is a bottom dwelling larvae that varies from a few millimetres up to one inch long. Colouration is most often Red but a dirty Olive shade is also prevalent and therefore an anglers artificial should reflect this. As with so many patterns there are countless variations available although a simple latex or rubber tail with a sparse body is pretty much all that’s required. Add a gold head for some depth and maybe a little twinkle in tail to help the pattern stand out amongst all the other thrashing worms. This movement should be imitated with a very jerky retrieve that will animate the tail and mimic closely the Bloodworms natural behaviour. Beware, Trout gorging on this period of the Buzzer lifecycle can become very preoccupied and therefore extremely tricky to catch. In such circumstances the killing tactic is often a brightly coloured lure fished deep at high speed!

Once the Bloodworm has pupated things become very interesting. The unfortunate Pupa (basically a fly in a skin designed to act as a dry suit) now has to travel though the water layers to the surface. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment; imagine having to swim through several man eating sharks to arrive at your destination safely! Mother nature has not been kind to the Buzzer because not only do they have a perilous journey before them they also swim with an enticing wiggle that Trout find irresistible; copy this with an erratic figure of eight retrieve. During their passage through the layers the Buzzer which varies enormously in size will need to stop for a rest. This is where an angler can score very well with a variety of tactics.

One of the most enjoyable is to fish the Buzzer under a bite indicator, which will support up to four flies strung out on a leader of 16’ or longer. An ideal boat tactic, lob the whole lot out and then just retrieve to keep up with the slack as the boat drifts. The artificial will descend to various depths and hang almost motionless, the surface movement imparting just a little life. Takes can be very positive registered as the indicator is pulled forcefully below the surface, just lift the rod and enjoy the ensuing scrap! Use this method to locate the feeding depth while experimenting by giving the line a long pull every now and again lifting the flies through the layers, then allowing them fall back once more. This is a tactical change that may lead to a take as the artificial suddenly appears to make a dash for freedom. Once the pull has been completed the fly descends at which point it maybe seized, imitating the moment when a Buzzer halts its ascent for a rest, falling back gradually towards the lake bed.

If glorified float fishing doesn’t do it for you then try swinging Buzzers in a team? I cast with my right arm which means I like to find a quiet bank all to myself with a left to right wind; get the breeze on the shoulder opposite the casting arm. Throw the longest line possible, often a floater or sink tip such as the Midge Tip by Rio. Then allow the wind to swing three well spaced Buzzers fished on a fluorocarbon leader of 14’ to 16’. Takes can be explosive resulting in an attempt by the fish to wrench rod from hand! Don’t only wait for this obvious sign, watch the line and at times it will appear to stretch slightly; a fish has just picked up the fly and a strike will result in a firm hook up. This dead leaf take is commonly displayed as a heavy feeling on the line during the retrieve; once again lift the rod to set the hook. The tactic lends itself perfectly to the washing line method so carry a few Boobies to tie on in the point fly position. Try standard Buzzers and other imitations such as Diawl Bachs or Crunchers on the top and middle dropper positions. I love to fish an intermediate line with this set up enjoying some superb days from both bank and boat.

Buzzer Pupa should be carried in Black, Red and Olive as a basic palette tied on several sizes of hook. It is often the case that moving from a size 12 to say a size 10 or vice versa results in instant sport. A change of colour could also trigger the desired reaction. To assist with pattern choice carry a marrow spoon and once a fish has been dispatched check out the stomach contents which will reveal what stage of Pupa the fish are feeding on. Some may display dishevelled legs sprouting from the thorax which identifies that the fly was about to hatch while others might have a tightly closed skin with a bright wing bud. This is a sign that the pupa was close to hatching and is an important characteristic that an angler must incorporate into an artificial. Look out too for the feather like breathing tubes protruding from the thorax and add this to an imitation displaying segmentation, the result is a fly that will elicit a confident instinctive feeding reaction.

Finally this indispensable food item arrives at the surface and begins the process of hatching. This is a highly vulnerable moment made even more arduous in a flat calm that creates a tight surface tension. When cruising still waters in a boat look for areas of calm water within a ripple known as slicks or wind lanes. This phenomenon traps droves of hatching pupa and the Trout are rarely far away. Copy this stage with sparsely dressed Harry Potters, Hoppers or Shipmans Buzzers, lightly Ginked and attached to a 14’ degreased leader made from Copolymer. Cast short to rising fish or over areas that are likely to trap the hapless insects, retrieve just enough to eradicate slack from the line and when a head pops out just lift the rod. This is such simplistic fishing but it is deadly; in fact leave home without a family of Buzzer imitating patterns at your peril!

Further Reading: The Essential Guide to Fly Fishing


DVD: Nick Harts Fly Fishing School

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