Our Man In Canada
August 7th, 2006

Phil Rowley and the Herl May
By Art Lingren, B.C., Canada

Phil Rowley
At the age of six, Phil Rowley was introduced to coarse fishing in England and has been hooked ever since. For the past 20 years Phil Rowley has been fly-fishing Stillwaters almost exclusively. His love of stillwater fly-fishing has taken him all over British Columbia and Washington in the pursuit of trout and char. A former commercial fly tier, Phil has written for almost every major fly-fishing publication in North America. His contributions also include books and numerous feature articles on fly-fishing Stillwaters and stillwater fly patterns.

Phil's book Fly Patterns For Stillwaters has become a best seller. When he is not tying flies or on the water, Phil travels western North America performing at outdoor shows, teaching a variety of seminars, speaking to fly clubs and conducting weekend fly-fishing schools. Phil's website, www.flycraftangling.com is dedicated to fly-fishing and fly-tying education.

Following is one of Phil's flies, the Herl May.

Herl May

Recipe - Herl May

    Adaped by Philip Rowley

    Hook: Size 12 - 14, Mustad R72.

    Thread: 8/0 Gudebrod, brown or olive.

    Body: Light olive ostrich herl.

    Rib: Fine copper wire.

    Shellback: Mottled turkey quill or Brown Midge Back, Stretch Flex or Scud Back.

    Thorax: Peacock herl.

    Legs: Micro Fleck Turkey Glats.

    Wingcase: Mottled turkey quill or Brown Midge Back, Stretch Flex or Scud Back.

    Intended use: Wet fly; Callibaetis nymph imitation for rainbow trout in clear-water lakes.

Comments: The mayfly reigns supreme on rivers and streams but the same cannot be said for stillwaters as the species diversity just isn't there. In the West, Callibaetis is the species of record and all stillwater fly-fishers should have an acute awareness of this species. Favoring the clear marl and chara lakes of the south-central plateau of British Columbia, Callibaetis feature prominently. Lakes such as White, Lac Le Jeune and Lac Des Roches dictate demure subtle patterns to be successful. It was with this challenge in mind that I adapted the Hurl May. Callibaetis nymphs are active swimmers and immediately prior to the hatch their activity level peaks, darting above the weed tops prior to emergence. During this false hatch period numerous trout cruise the shoals, searching for an easy meal. Callibaetis move through the water column propelled by rapid undulations of their body followed by prolonged pauses in a distinct arched position, abdominal gills fluttering. Using Micro Fleck Turkey Flat fibers for the tail and legs, I was able to duplicate the posture of both the active and resting nymphs. The ostrich herl body suggested the abdominal gills and, in a lighter coloration, blended with the shellback and wingcase to represent the light bellies and dark backs common to many aquatic invertebrates. When Callibaetis nymphs are on the menu the Herl May on the end of a long 15-foot leader and floating-line or Wet Tip Clear line is a proven combination. Present the pattern along the marl and chara seams. Using the chara to mask their presence, trout dart over the lighter marl, pouncing on countless Callibaetis nymphs. ~ PR

Credits: The Herl May is one of hundreds of flies from the new book Contemporary Fly Patterns of British Columbia by Art Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications. Art's previous book, Fly Patterns of British Columbia has been featured here before.

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