OFG Emerger

Do you devour the latest FlyLife from cover to cover when it first arrives, or savour it over time? Some readers, having far more willpower than I possess, ration themselves to an article a week. Echoing the variety of reading approaches we all have particular interests: salt or fresh, trout or natives, flats or bluewater. We each retain different snippets of information to file away as we work through the content.
Not surprisingly it’s the fly patterns, or mention thereof, that grab my attention. Variations of favourite patterns, reminders of old patterns I should try again, or patterns used in different ways. A recent standout was in David Anderson’s West Branch article (FL#89). David’s fishing partner Bob Norris had spent the day covering fast pocket water with his new emerger pattern. Not a style of fly many consider for faster streams.
While a regular in the lake arsenal, emergers on streams are typically associated with the smooth water of slower pools and then only during a hatch. As a general searching option they are disregarded in favour of ‘fancier’ patterns, with selection even being made, as I was recently told, on the fly’s photogenic properties for social media.
Bob felt that many of the popular flies became top heavy and didn’t sit correctly on the water. They also demanded ever-increasing amounts of hard to find materials. He saw the need for a simple pattern, tied from readily available materials, and highly visible to both the angler and trout. The resulting OFG (One Fly Guy) Emerger sits with the main body of the fly below the surface, easily seen by the fish even in rough water, while the possum wing rides up high and is clearly visible on the water, allowing the angler to detect the often subtle takes.
Bob’s choice of hook is the Kamasan B100, commonly used for emerger patterns, with the lighter gauge hook aiding floatation. If you feel the need for a stronger hook to tackle large fish in tight snag-ridden water you will need to compensate for the extra weight with a slightly thicker possum wing. For a barbless option I have gone with a Hanak H300BL, with the Czech nymph style providing a similar curved profile and lighter gauge wire.
Lay an even base of thread down the shank to a point half way around the bend. For the tail, tie in a small bunch of guard hairs from a hare’s mask — about a third of the hook shank length suits the pattern well. While not commonly preferred for tail fibres these days, there is no denying their potential effectiveness. Hare’s mask guard hairs are the traditional tailing for the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Nymph, perhaps the most successful nymph pattern of all.
Attach a length of fine copper wire for ribbing and tightly dub some possum hair onto your thread. Wind the possum forward covering two thirds of the shank, forming a thin neat body. Wrap the copper wire forward in even turns over the body, tie off and trim any excess.
Trim off a tuft of the lighter hair from the base of a possum tail, start with something around half the thickness of a pencil. Pull out any particularly long hairs to neaten the ends then comb out the fine underfur to reduce the bulk slightly. Trim the base of the hair just enough to even the ends and tie in tightly, forming a wing one and a half times the length of the hook. Wrap a few tight turns of thread directly in front of the wing, each turn closer to the base, helping to stand the wing up. Add a small drop of head cement to the base of the wing to help keep everything secure.
Dub a small amount of Ice dubbing onto your thread and form a neat thorax with a few wraps behind and in front of the wing. Then a neat whip finish to secure the thread and a drop of head cement to complete.
In our attempts to improve patterns we often increase floatation. The thought being the longer a fly stays afloat the better it must be. Our patterns are pimped with synthetic non-absorbent dubbings, foam and extra hackle, creating high floating flies that are sitting less and less like the naturals. Even large food items such as beetles and hoppers sit low, half-submerged in the surface film. How often have we missed a fish after a fast slashing rise? While we pass these off as half-hearted attempts by the fish it may be that the fish has misjudged the take, expecting the fly to be sitting lower in the surface film.
The OFG with its body riding just under the surface gives the fish a clear target even in the faster water. Bob’s success with his pattern has seen him using little else, hence the moniker, Bob ‘One Fly Guy’ Norris.

The Light Horseman

Targeting Murray cod on fly can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. Their feeding times can be incredibly short, and the slightest change in water or weather can shut any bite down. You need a selection of flies to work the water column, so following on from last issue’s top water fly (Articulated Cod Popper), let’s take a look at a sinking fly with a distinctive Australian twist.
Nick Kneipp is no stranger to the peculiarities of our cod, and after several frustrating trips he developed the Light Horseman, so named for its use of emu feathers — also found in the slouch hat of the Australian Mounted Infantry. Nick runs a terrific website at www.codscountry.com with all sorts of information about how to fish, when to go, and what gear to use — check it out.
Inspired by Rob Meade’s and Ross Virt’s use of emu feathers, the first version was a modified Huntsman and looked great at the vice but lacked life when fished. However, the emu gave a wonderful sheen in the water, and held some promise, and there is no shortage of emu in Nick’s neck of the woods. Nick’s mate Jason Haakstad was researching various pike fly tying techniques at the time and eventually Nick found that a veil of emu feathers surrounding a reverse tied bunch of bucktail created more lifelike movement and more bulk.
Tied on a substantial #6/0 Gamakatsu SL12S, the Light Horseman can be modified to work the water column in your area. Firstly, all cod flies should have weed guards and the best of them is the mono loop at the head of the fly. This is the style of weed guard that I prefer for my own flies and have adopted for most of my custom flies, after seeing some flies Nick had tied years ago. It is perfect for working through snags, and if you really don’t like it you can snip the loop in the centre and you have two mono whiskers.
The trick is to use 30 lb Mason Hard mono leader material, which has the right thickness and stiffness to be effective.
Weight can be added in the form of lead wire wrapped around the hook shank. I use about 15 turns to add ‘a bit’ of weight, but you can add more or use a double layer.
Once your weed guard and weight is sorted out, tie in a long length of tan bucktail at the rear of the hook shank, followed by another bunch slightly shorter and tied about a centimetre back from the stubs. This is then folded back onto itself, creating a bulky mass.
In front of this, tie several long emu feathers around the hook shank in a veil. You can add a couple of strands of gold or root beer flash before adding a drop of glue and repeating
the exercise.
At the second tie-in, add a grizzly saddle on each side before continuing. Repeat this until you have reached the front of the hook shank.
I like to sort through the emu feathers and use the darker grey feathers as the veil at the front of the fly. This gives a subtle colour variation in natural earthy tones, similar to many freshwater fish.
This size of fly balances well with 8 mm 3D eyes – I like to make use of the 8.5 mm Flymen Fish Masks, which give a great finish. First, apply some clear contact adhesive to the tie-in point, then work the Fish Mask over the mono weed guard and feed it over the tie-in point. The contact adhesive will secure it in place, but make some thread wraps in front of the Fish Mask and finish with some thin UV finish such as Solarez Bone Hard once the contact adhesive has hardened. Of course, you can go ‘old school’ and simply glue some 8 mm 3D eyes on each side and finish with UV Resin such as Solarez Thick or Flex.
Colours are up to you, but it’s difficult to find dyed emu feathers. You can vary the bucktail and saddles though. Nick likes to fish these flies on intermediate sink-tip lines, and his favourites are the Rio Outbound Short Tropical and the SA Titan Taper.
Get your Light Horseman into some snags and twitch it around — but make sure you are using tough tippet, and give no line!