First the river, and then the village itself. We are shrouded in ice for the second day. I’d love to get out, but the odds aren’t very good. Humans fall hard on icy surfaces, it is sudden, and old bones are not as resilient as they once were. I remain inside looking out and praying for the afternoon sun to bring a bit of thawing to my little corner of the world.

I’m still caught up in the idea of soft hackle Green Drakes, doing research and passing the time scrolling through YouTube videos. I found there are a couple of others out there who have experimented with this same line of thinking. I sent a couple of messages to a couple of acknowledged experts on old English patterns, though I’ve had no replies just yet. It seems to me there ought to have been a fly or two of such design crafted in the past one hundred and fifty years or so, and England seems the logical place for it to have occurred.

Yesterday I turned my attention to CDC soft hackles and tied a fly that looks very promising to me. This fly should settle itself right in the surface film and move just enough to elicit interest. A downstream cast and a little pull, followed by a quick drop of the rod tip, ought to get it as much in the trout’s world as mine; right in the doorway as it were, and leaning across the threshold.

CDC Soft Hackle Drake: Hen pheasant covert, yellow CDC, silk dubbing & thread, and Coq-De-Leon.

After my tying session I went back to browsing video topics and came upon a related pattern from somewhere in Scandanavia. I was not aware that their region of Europe featured hatches of Ephemera Danica, but it seems our Green Drake’s cousin generates a lot of excitement among trout and fly fishers there, as it does in the British Isles.

I have taken a couple of excited browns by purposely sinking one of my CDC duns, even when stripping them in to make a pickup. There are times when the movement simply overcomes their caution, but the movement I design into my flies is typically subtle. These are insects we are imitating and not baitfish.

Years ago, I designed a very realistic looking Green Drake emerger with a big wing of showshoe rabbit. The entire concept of that fly was geared toward fishing it sunk, on the swing, and then giving sudden slack to allow it to pop up in front of a rising trout. If you have ever fished the late Fran Betters’ famous Usual dry fly, you know how easily a snowshoe winged fly can be handled that way.

That fly was conceived on the drive back to Chambersburg after a last day session on the Beaverkill. I had fished the tail of one of the big river’s pools on that overcast afternoon and found Green Drakes hatching in the riffle below the lip of the tailout. Trout were chasing the emergers and taking them with explosive rises and all dead drifting flies, natural and artificial, remained unmolested. I finally sunk and swung my dry fly and managed to get one good grab before the hatch subsided. I remember that fish, because he streaked downstream through that riffle like I had set him on fire, breaking my reel’s drag spring.

A spinning fly reel produces a terrific backlash when there is suddenly no resistance to a fish’s run, a stupendous tangle. Luckily that trout was near the end of his run, and I was able to play him back upstream and into the net by stripping line. If I hadn’t, I would have sworn that he was one of the biggest trout I ever hooked. Damned impressive performance for a sixteen-inch brown.

If memory serves, I carried that new pop-up emerger for several seasons, never finding the right situation for it. It did not fare well in flat water, lacking the speed in the swing and the sudden rise to the surface. I didn’t have any with me last year, when the only hatch of Drakes I encountered was in a nice run of moving water. Who knows? I might have reached nirvana…

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