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Termite Time
Mick prepares for the early summer storms
Freshwater Fishing magazine #105
November/December 2010

In a previous issue of Freshwater Fishing I wrote of termites and those of you who collect these articles may like to swat up on what I wrote.

But just to highlight some important aspects of the habits and lifestyle of these amazing bugs, we know that during late spring and on through summer, if the climatic conditions are right, such as stormy evening, we can see mating swarms of these fluttering little  insects flying all over the water and surrounding paddocks.  They look like little helicopters with the four wings fluttering in all directions.  If you are fortunate enough to be on the water when this occurs and you have the right pattern, you are in big business.

A bit about their lifestyle

Termites, or white ants as we know them, can be disastrous if they attack our home by building nests in the internal timber frame work but not all termites feed solely on wood; in fact many species feed on grasses and other matter.

There are some 258 species so far described with another 90 odd still to be fully described. Some build mounds whilst a large variety of our south eastern species live in underground nests or in rotten stumps.  Others live inside trees and rotten fence posts.  So in many ways their job in nature is to clean up rotten wood and leaf matter found in our forests.

Warryn fishing a termite; early season on the Swampy
(Swampy Plains in the border country of Victoria and New South Wales)

The late Warryn Germon really had termites worked out; well as far as the trout were concerned.  He developed three very effective patterns that worked not only here in Australia but America as well.  Warryn had a soft spot for fibre glass fly rods and at one time he rebuilt a couple of old rods from my collection which he used exclusively in his final years.


A couple of years before his death Warryn worked on a forum at   http://fiberglassflyrodders.yuku.com/directory  so the connection with like-minded fly flickers on a website designed for those with similar interests  was a natural extension of his passion for these old rods.


Over that time he chatted and swapped flies with the members as one would do.  I have copied a thread that he posted on termites, which in many ways is self-explanatory: 



 I am not sure if termites feature at all on your US trout streams but they do have a brief but significant effect here in Australia.  There are mounds and infested trees where I live in the South-east corner (not to mention buildings) and the winged adults tend to swarm on hot humid days or during a storm.  They are clumsy flyers with a set of four very poorly attached wings.  When there is large scale swarming they tend to fall on the water in huge numbers.  From now on I will be carrying the patterns I have devised to cover these insect falls which usually occur in spring to early summer.

The first one is my realist pattern tied on a #18 hook and with a body of rust tying silk over-wrapped with flat stranded nylon in cream to give an overall translucent look in the water.

Warrynís Lowland Termite tied by Warryn Germon Pic Mick Hall

This fly works on slow water or still backwaters, where the trout can have a good look at the fly.  Fellow fly fishers often refer to it as a copy rather than a pattern, which I regard as a compliment.  The hackle tip wings are first tied in facing forward, then folded back so they wonít pull out the first time you remove the fly from a trout.

The next two are tied to meet some different needs during a termite fall.  Sometimes the trout will only take a still fluttering termite and my tie for these has an elk hock wing and a body of tan micro-chenille singed to seal it.

This fished down a run with a tiny bit of allowed drag will usually interest those fish feeding on the fluttering termite.

The last fly is a quick and easy tie, using the V shaped feather from a Ringneck pheasant neck.  Works best in fast runs and small streams, especially in heavily treed country.

Warrynís Bush Termite developed & tied by Warryn Germon Pic Mick Hall

Same fly showing the body construction Tied by Warryn Germon Pic Mick Hall

Another member of that forum remarks on how this fly works on his local streams in America:

I can attest to their abilities, itís the second year Iíve used his patterns and just before the fires this year the hatches were everywhere, those flies knock trout dead in their tracks with pure lust and desire for sure.  I can tell you itís one of a very few flies Iíve used to have actually had a trout jump out of the water to take it; they really WORK!!! 

Warrynís Fluttering Termite tied by Warryn Germon Pic by Mick Hall

The patterns:

Lowland Termite as developed by Warryn Germon

Hook: Mustad R50

Size: 18-16

Body: Orange thread built ant shape with cream thread over to give the effect of translucency

Wings: Cream Badger cock hackle tips taken from an old Indian cape.  The wings are tied in with the wings facing out over the eye of the hook and then folded back over the body to secure

Hackle: Brown Whiting Farms cock saddle hackle at least three turns

Head: Orange thread.


Notes: The body is treated with head cement to hold the fine layer of cream thread in place.


The wings, when tied in as explained, not only hold well but are easier to position on your fly, be they tied in for spent wings or even if tied along the side of the fly as you would when tying a Mrs Simpson.


Fluttering Termite as developed by Warryn Germon

Hook: Mustad R50

Size: 18 -16

Thread: Tan/Orange

Body: Tan Micro Chenille singed to seal it

Wing: One Badger cock hackle tip with a bunch of Elk hock fibres tied over and flared to give a delta shape.


Notes: It should be noted that if you experience such a situation requiring a fluttering termite, an orange bodied Elk Hair Caddis may just help as a second choice.


Bush Termite as developed by Warryn Germon

Hook: Mustad R50

Size: 16

Body: As Lowland Termite

Wing: Brown/Black tipped back feather from a Cock Ringneck Pheasant tied in and folded back over as described in the Lowland pattern

Hackle: Brown Whiting Farms cock saddle hackle three or four turns.


It should also be noted that termites will at times drop their wings on hitting water, so it is an idea to tie up a few wingless versions to fish just under the surface.

Címon Summer storms!

Mick Hall