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Wednesday, 2022-08-10

Our Sedge

One of the countless patterns to imitate caddis or sedge flies. There are about nine hundred varieties of the natural insect in Europe alone; world-wide almost 7000. Sizes vary from just a few millimetres to almost seven centimetres.
Sedges exist in flowing and in still waters. As nymphs and as the adult insect they are a very important food source for our freshwater fish.
Since the sedge appears in many of our lakes, we should have at least one pattern imitating it in our fly boxes.


When on a fishing holiday in Bavaria, back in 1976, a friend of mine, Helmut Becker, and I found hundreds of sedges creeping along the surface of a shop window. We had a close look and tried to copy them. What we produced turned out to be a winner all over: caught grayling, brown-rainbow-sea trout, chubb, roach, rudd and dace.
The perfect hook for the job is 2 x long in sizes 8 to 12, but the fly can be tied smaller as well.

Materials ( dry fly ):
Thread - black
Body - very light brown or beige Polypropylene or artificial wool
Wing - a segment of any inside varnished dark brown feather, cut off with a straight pair of scissors, just behind end of hook
Hackle - a ginger coloured cock hackle, tied in at the wing base to form a thick upright standing hackle ring.

Materials ( wet fly ):
Thread - black
Body - real wool this time, has to be heavier than water, in very light brown or beige
Ribbing - oval gold
Hackle - ginger coloured soft hen hackle, Palmer style, cut off fibres on top
Wings - again a segment of the varnished dark brown feather, and cut off again just behind the end of the hook.

Wherever you see sedges skating along the water's surface put it on.

Our Sedge Emerges

The thought to produce my own flies, these fragile things from hooks, feathers, wool and yarn, did not give me any peace until I had bought the essential tools and materials; and a book on the subject of course: Fly tying and some tackle making, by William Ernest Davies, written in the fifties, had only rough black and white drawings, but helped to get a basic understanding of the matter. Still the first objects didn't look promising at all, the proportions were wrong and mostly they fell to pieces after ten casts or so. In mid seventies Germany fly tying classes weren't available at every tackle shop, so I sat down on my own, and after one winter of trial my flies got a certain similarity with the original patterns, kept carefully in a little plastic box.

The summer holidays came finally and it was time to bring my creations to the real test. To the River Alz in Bavaria first, as a sort of prelude to Yugoslavia. The river, an outflow of the huge Chiemsee, had suffered a fish-kill the previous year. But, we were assured, the grayling stocks had recovered, the river was stocked and fishing well.
We found it not easy to catch a fish: sixty meters wide, at most places forests right down to the banks and a river bottom consisting of fist size roundish stones. Without chest waders it wasn't possible to get even a few steps into the river. A strong currant, the depth of water and those slippery round stones allowed only a very careful downstream wading. In fact we sort of hobbled over the shingles, pushed forward by the currant. The braking down was always initiated by a hefty slide and the attempt to stem the feet deeper into the gravel, in order to slow down and come eventually to a standstill, one just had to be very careful not to drift into deeper parts of the river

Our catches were very moderate, often accidents; not the right flies, or wrong presentation. A really slow moving affair.
So, a fellow angler's wife didn't need long to talk us into driving to the town of Seebruck; there was one of these open air feasts happening. Bavarian bacchanalian: brass bands, pork roasts and Kraut and sausages and of course big glasses and lots of people.
Coming home from this in the evening, we found on an illuminated shop window hundreds of sedges crawling all over the pane. A close look at them revealed that all had very light brown, beige, bodies and not like our imitations dark ones.
In the morning we got our tying gear out of the car and tried to imitate these insects. In the afternoon we started the first trials with Our Sedge and found that we had landed a hit. In the evening we sat on the terrace of our guesthouse and tied more: for Yugoslavia.

Sure enough, our pattern proved to be the hammer, we fished almost exclusively with it, in sizes 10 to 18, all day long, morning, noon and evening, wherever fish rose, they took this sedge.
It is still my best loved dry fly; I caught my, so far, biggest grayling on it, numerous trout, chubb, dace, rudd, roach and sea trout.