On a recent trip to Tasmania I was fortunate enough to be able to capture a number of great pics of some of our Tasmanian bugs and mayflies.
During this trip, which was more of a holiday than fishing trip, I did get the chance to drop into Little Pine and had a flick around with an old friend, Alan Hoyle, and apart from getting my butt kicked by some tricky tailers, I also got some great shots of the Large Grey Dun and its spinner as well as a number other critters, including some Stoneflies. The one that got me going was this big brute featured above. This Stonefly is large, coming in at around 60mm. They were everywhere in the reeds along the road shoreline and studying them in this natural habitat took my thoughts back to the One Fly events in Jackson Hole Wyoming during the 1990s.
This stonefly is a close cousin to an American species they call the
“Salmon Fly”; just click on Google and type in “Salmon fly hatches” and you
will see what I mean. You will not only get some great fly patterns but
heaps of fly fishing tips that are just as relevant over here as they are in
the United States.
Back in 1995 yours truly, along with the other team members of Team Penn Tasmania, being Frank Hussey Laurie Matcham, Ken Orr, witnessed the true value of fishing Stoneflies. It was brought home to us big-time, simply because that year the Chernobyl Ant won the One Fly hands down and had everyone talking about this weird looking fly.
It was designed by members of the Emmet Heath camp from the Green River area. Mark Forsland first put it together with a hackle over the body and called it the Black Mamba. But during the One Fly event, Allan Woolley changed Mark’s pattern by replacing the hackle with rubber legs. It is a no brainer to guess who won the One Fly that year.
The Original Bloody Mary, actually tied by Max Christensen - Pic Mick Hall
The Chernobyl Ant has spawned a thousand hybrids since its inception and is now available in a myriad of colour combinations. One that caught my eye was one they call the Club Sandwich. In reality it is a triple decker Chernobyl and again this variation has spawned a myriad of mutants but the truth is they work and are always worth a try.
The tie is simple, just get some hobby glue like Tarzan’s Grip, stick the
layers together and tie a strip onto a hook. You do need to create a good
firm bed of thread for the foam to sit on or else it will keep moving on
you. Your first move after laying a firm bed of thread is to tie on the
foam just above the barb and add some rubber legs. Lift the body up and
away from the shank so that you can take the thread forward to about the
half way point and tie the body to the shank. Again, lift the final section
of foam and take the thread up to just behind the eye and tie in firmly, add
your final set of legs and your hot orange indicator. Tie off under the
body and trim the ends of the foam to give a neat finish. Turn the fly over
and run a good layer of head cement along the exposed thread along the under
body. Some use a layer of Super-Glue to fix it in place. The
hook that I used was a Partridge Limerick size 6 and 3/0 black tying thread.
In recent years wings of all sorts of configurations and materials have been added to the Chernobyl Ant and why not? Those upright wings are a trigger point and it is a very viable choice; plus the upright wing is a little closer to the natural when it’s about to fly off to places unknown.
During the 1996 One Fly I designed a pattern we called the Tassie Tarantula which, as most of you who follow this column would know, won the One Fly that year and the Chernobyl Ant came in second place. Two different flies, so why the reference? Well there are things called trigger points.
In this instance they are those rubber legs and secondly, the heavily tied wings on the TT.
These large Stoneflies are most active early morning and as they emerge
they often run across the surface of the water with their wings held
upright, just like in the lead photo. Often they will also just sit there
on the surface in lakes or drift with the current in rivers; either way the
slightest movement will activate those rubber legs and bring this artificial
to life. I suppose one could argue over the value of the high standing
wings compared to the legs but in my mind they work hand in hand.
As soon as Ken Orr saw the Chernobyl Ant he said that would work at home, as there are plenty of those big Stoneflies up in the highlands. How right he was. The fact is this stonefly is not only in the highlands but is widespread as is the family that it belongs to. A while back Peter Hayes wrote an article on the Chernobyl Ant and how effective it was in Tasmania, particularly on the lowland rivers.
Then again flies that represent this stonefly are not new to Tassie. Max Christensen developed his famous Bloody Mary to represent the larva form as well as the adult. A while back I was able to photograph a very large collection of Max’s flies which included at least ten variations on the Mary.
Winged Chernobyl Ant - As adapted by Mick Hall
Hook: Partridge Limerick
Thread: Black 6/0
Body: Two layers of 2mm foam stuck together with hobby glue
Legs: Black rubber tied slightly long so that movement is enhanced
Wings: Enrico Puglisi 3D hot orange
Overwing: Enrico Puglisi Triggerpoint Dark Dun
Neck Band: Hot orange 6/0 thread