In the mid 1990s each season I attended the Bronte Tie-In, which was an event held every October up at the Bronte Park Chalet in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. The event was all about fly tying and some of Tasmania’s top fly tyers attended each year to share their ideas and tie flies.
Every year new patterns came to light that have worked well on the highland lakes over the last or previous seasons. Visitors who dropped in often pulled out a small box of flies featuring secret specimens that were working well for them.
During this period I often did a fly tying session at the Fishing Connection in Hobart prior to heading up into the Highlands. I think it was back in 2001 when the talk at the store amongst the young guns working there was all about Stick Caddis. This hype was headed by Phil Ellerton and Tom Crawford. The boys had this secret pattern and they were arguing over a small amount of light yellowish-green glass beads. The discussion was a little concerning, particularly when Phil started to raid my fly kit looking for an additional supply of these yellow-green beads.
The impact of gold beads on flies is often talked about and just about any established wet fly today has a version featuring a gold bead head. Why? Because they work. There is something about that gold bead that acts as a trigger point. Glass beads are nothing new but I did like the look of the chartreuse-coloured bead and obviously the trout in the highlands of Tasmania did too.
One would think that yellow-green beads are yellow-green beads but not to
these guys. The beads in question had to have a touch of chartreuse
about them. For a while the guys, or should I say, Phil, would not
show me what they were tying up but after some persuasion, because I had a
supply of the wanted bead, they somewhat reluctantly showed and told me
about the fly.
The pattern was simple, in fact very simple, and that is what I liked about it. The hook was around a size ten, the body, peacock herl and the glass bead was at the head of the fly. The idea behind the bead was that it represented the head of the caddis grub, which is partially protruding from the casing as it swims along. Another interesting facet about this fly was that they frequently fished it on a dead drift.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF MICK’S SCRUFFY
One of the first glass bead headed minnow patterns that I had come across were in fact tied and developed by Rick Keam. His signature fly that came on the market was a smelt pattern fly he called Helter Smelter and from that appeared the variant known as the BMS, which was tied/marketed and promoted by Muz Wilson of Victoria.
A few years earlier I witnessed Malcolm Crosse fishing a very similar pattern he called Malcolm’s Simple Caddis but instead of having a glass bead for the head, Malcolm used a bright olive green Chenille. This fly is also very effective on Tasmanian waters but he used to just fish it with a slow, overhand retrieve. To say I was caught up in the euphoria of the moment you may be right, as I tied up a few for my own fly box.