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The Hotchpotch

By Neil Patterson

Neil Patterson showcases his artificial that moves, grooves and deludes


Super seductive, even when static
Super seductive, even when static

I’m not a great reader. Most of what I learnt about riding bikes, blowing bubbles with gum, whistling with two fingers and fly-fishing, someone showed my how to do it. I didn’t read about it. (But don’t let this stop you reading this.) I do occasionally dip into people’s thoughts that they’ve penned to paper. And not surprisingly, as a regular contributor to the magazine you grip in your hands (or read on the website) – and hopefully clasp to your heart – you won’t be surprised to hear that I read this magazine.

One fly mentioned several years back, intrigued me enormously. It still does. So much so, I fish it with slave-like regularity. With much success. Because its design has proved itself. I can’t hide the fact: the simplicity of its design overwhelmed me. (Yes, it’s good to read, is FF&FT.)

Its design answers one of the trickiest questions. Put simply (I like to keep things simple): Can there be such a thing as The Perfect Sedge Pattern? Before you turn the page or click your mouse, let me tell you: yes, there is such a thing.

So what is the perfect sedge pattern?

If Mr Ephemeroptera, the upwing fly, is the Francis Drake of the aquatic fly world, Mr Trichoptera – or Senor Sedge – is the Buzz Lightyear. Maximum motion. Bags of action. Sacks of buzz. No wonder when you hear a splash on an evening, it can only be a trout, sedge-bound. “To infinity – and beyond!”

In the past, a palmered body hackle has been light years ahead of any other method imitating this ‘buzz’ a sedge displays when it finds itself hatched out, far from home, far from secure, too nervous, far too vulnerable - and panics!

For me, the body palmered style of sedge hackling has design faults. It cleverly, but not too cleverly, lifts one of the most important parts of the sedge clean out of the menu-gazing vision of a hungry trout diner. The beef; the body.

A big, fat, juicy sedge body should be presented to the trout – in full view. After this, the rest is soup stock. Who eats wings these days? Legs? Am I bovr’d?

So if there’s not going to be any pre-supplied, palmered ‘buzz’ in this design, where is it in this pattern – this ‘serves all sedge’ pattern I call the Hotchpotch, for I can’t remember its name? (Editor – help, please.)

With the Hotchpotch, the ‘buzz’ is where – and when – you want it.  Or indeed need it at all, for I have found the body gets all the buzz I want, from a trout.  Could this be the first super-seductive static sedge?

If you want buzz – or ‘movement’ – you can control it. It’s at your beck and call. Static, the pattern is designed to keep the seductive body in full view of the trout, just like a fast-escaping sedge wishes it wasn’t. The design sits this body on a soft mattress of hackle – rather, a platter. Not held high on a spiky bed of hackle nails. Out of sight, out of stomach.  Twitch the rod tip to impart movement. The motion is more representative of the natural. 

With the ‘palmer’ style, the fly pushes a wave out in front of the fly, like a bow wave of a rowing boat. With the Hotchpotch, lift the rod and the wing keeps low and trails a gentle wake behind it, like an outboard motor, forming an irresistible ‘V’, identical to that of a natural.  

The sideways positioning of the hackles of the Hotchpotch planes the water, lifting it up on its tail. It’s here – at the tail, not the head or along the body - where the action really is.

Anything more to say about the design? Yes. If you’ve been following this series, you will have gleaned that latter day patterns have been missing out on important features displayed by the natural. One of these unmissable features from a trout’s vantage point is the thorax. Look at a sedge from below, from the trout’s view, and you will see the front part of the sedge (not along the sides) is all thorax and legs. These are perfectly imitated in the design of this pattern. 

And once again, the design supports my theory that it’s not always best to tie off at the head. 

With the Hotchpotch, you whip-finish mid-fly, behind the thorax where there’s less room to make mistakes – and risk being banned by your local Fly Dresser's Guild for having an untidy head.

But if you are, don’t blame me. Blame your hairdresser.

Factfile


A body of creamy fur has been dubbed and the Antron floss wing has been tied forwards, over the eye. A hackle has then been tied in and the thread returns to its starting position. The hackle is then wound, working backwards from the eye. Having tied the hackle down (see photo), the next stage is to clip away the uppermost hackle barbs and bring over the wing so it can be tied down behind the hackle.

Folding back the Antron secured at the eye, like this forms the thorax, the correct leg positioning – and the wing, all in one easy movement.

  • Vice a #12–14 (Orvis 1877-00) barbless hook. Tie in light brown thread two thirds up hook. Wind to bend.
  • Dub the most deliciously creamy dubbing material you have in your dubbing larder. Wind back to starting position.
  • Tie in length of light brown Antron floss (Aero Dry wing material Camel 14, recommended) so it extends over hook-eye. Finish binding this directly behind eye.
  • While returning thread to starting position, tie in blue dun cock hackle. Tip extending over hook-eye, shiny side facing upward. Wind hackle back to thread starting position and secure.
  • Trim top of hackle. Fold back Antron and secure at starting position with whip-finish.
  • Trim wing so that it extends past the hook-bend.

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