When fishing the unique chalk streams of the United Kingdom the first thing that springs to mind is Mayfly. This insect is part of the order Palaeoptera, along with their close relatives the Damsel fly and Dragon fly.
The Mayfly hatch is a hot topic among trout fishers in the spring months. This hatch we talk of, is simply just what is says on the tin. In the spring, not necessarily May, the Mayflies begin to emerge from the depths of river and develop from nymphs to young Mayfly. This phenomena happens in great quantities, millions of Mayflies can hatch over a very short period of time. A Mayfly nymph can spend years in the river feeding on algy before it is ready to live its short life as an adult Mayfly.
The pure quantity of mayfly hatching is what attracts resident trout to consider feeding. As the Mayfly emerge from the water, often they will land on the rivers surface, simply just to rest their wings. This gives the trout opportunity to attack from below. The volume of Mayfly allows trout to gorge themselves with very little effort.
What makes a mayfly hatch?
The Mayfly will start its life as an egg in the water. After two weeks of incubation the egg will hatch and form a nymph. The Mayfly nymph can spend up to two years in the river feeding on algy. When the temperatures aline, usually in May, the nymph will rise to the surface and, over a 30 second period, hatch into an adult Mayfly.
As fisherman we have learnt, over the years, to imitate these Mayflies to try and fool the wild trout of the British chalk streams. There is great art involved in the sport. Dry fly is often the prefered method to attract the fish. The visual aspect makes it one of the most exciting methods to fish out there!
Step one is to find a rising trout that is feeding on Mayflies. Step two is to get within casting distance without spooking the fish. Now for the difficult bit, you must land your Mayfly imitation in front of the fish and dead drift it over the trout’s nose. As long as your presentation is good and the fly drifts well, the magical moment of the take will follow. The fish will rise and slowly engulf your mayfly immitation.
The gear we are using for this intellegent species is generally very light. We would recomend 9ft 4wt rods with a suitable line to match. We prefere softer action rods allowing you to absorb any sharp runs from the fish. Tapered leaders are a key to presenting the fly well as they aid in turnover and delicate presintation. Mud, to stop the leading from showing on the surface and some Gink to make the fly float high and proud.
There are a range of mayfly patterns out there. Make sure you have flies that immitate the various stages of a mayflys life, emerging, adult stages and spinners. For more advice on tackle and advice on what best suits your requirement please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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Please do get intouch to talk more on the topic and advice about fishing in the UK.
Watch our short video from a day on the Itchen here: