Martin Langlands column for Reel Life September 2017

  • 26/09/2017

Martin Langlands column for Reel Life September 2017

Mayflies of spring 

One of the more vivid aspects of early season fly fishing is the good number of Mayfly hatches that occur.

Superb brown for Chis Baker taken on early season dry fly.

On the lowland streams and spring creeks, these can happen at any time of day and it’s here that the mayflies tend to be smaller in sizes( #16-14) and patterns that are grey, tan and orange brown are important to have on hand. In such waters, fishing longer tapered leaders in the 12 to 18 foot  range can help the angler get better results. But if you’re new to fly fishing, or not so confident, it’s best to start with a leader length 9 to 12 foot as it’s so important to feel comfortable with your presentations. Some of the best mayfly days on such waters are experienced on fine days after the weather has been cool or raining and often this relates to a rising barometer. 

On the larger braided rivers and high country waters, mayfly hatches can be remarkably very lush on the coldest of days, even occurring in southerly rain and snow. Keep watchful eyes on both swallows and black fronted terns as these birds, like trout, really seek mayfly adults as a major food source. So when you see them hovering and driving over the river it’s a sure indicator that a mayfly hatch is happening or soon to happen. Mayfly in the high country tend to be a bit larger in sizes (#14-12-10) and are commonly grey in colour. When such hatches are witnessed it's easy to get over excited and make mistakes (we all do this at times) so it pays to rig up carefully using a leader of appropriate strength and length. Often these trout will be larger, in very strong current and there may be wind blowing, so adjust your leader accordingly. Once set up observe and appraise the rising fish you are about to target take into consideration the river current (will the fly drag?) before you make your first cast because such fish often get put down easily.  


 Martin sept3Dont let cold weather put you off ! Some of the best mayfly hatches happen on days like this.

 The Mayfly with the vernacular ‘Kakahi Queen’ is very much the jewel in the crown of New Zealand mayflies, and hatches in largest numbers during October and November. It is easy to distinguish being larger than regular mayflies with a  bright yellow aspect to their wing colour. Kakahi Queen, correctly called Coloburiscus Humeralis, frequents more stable spring creeks and rocky streams in both low and high country with their nymphal stage often called ‘spiny-gilled mayfly.’ The best imitation of the dry fly stage should have a rusty brown coloured body and hackle with a slight yellow component in the wing. Evocatively enough, the best pattern was designed by Basil Humphries the postmaster from the North Island town of Kakahi and he called it the Kakahi Queen Like all fly tying, you can vary and adapt imitations of this insect, personally I love tying imitations of this mayfly and enjoy even more the thrill of sailing them over early season trout . As with all all mayflies, keep a watchful eye for pre-hatch emergers i.e. the nymphs just under the water surface that drift in current as they hatch, and have some emerger imitations in your box for such situations. These are best fished on a short 20-35cm dropper behind a more visable dry fly.

Martin Sept 2Some modern day imitations of Kakahi Queen by Martin Langlands.

I wish you all the best of luck for early season please remember you keep safe on the water and let’s hope for some more settled weather!



Martin Langlands

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