Fishing the Mayfly Hatch

It’s that time of the year that some fly-fishermen call “Duffers’ Fortnight”!

What is Mayfly time?

We love this explanation of “Mayfly time!” from the Wild Trout Trust.

The mayfly is the iconic river fly, loved by trout and anglers, for whom ‘fishing the mayfly’ is shorthand for having a lovely day by the river with fish rising everywhere and catching lots of trout on dry flies.

The term ‘duffers’ fortnight’ refers to the period when fishing is easy because trout are rising to gorge on mayfly and are much less likely to be spooked by a clumsy angler or poorly presented fly.

The reality is often a bit different. Avid anglers arrive at the river ready to fish by 10am, and wander the banks waiting for the hatch to start, which is usually mid-afternoon and often later. Once the hatch gets underway, the excitement builds as he waits for trout to rise. Waits. And waits some more. Sometimes it takes a few days for trout to switch on to rising and taking mayfly off the surface.

The first sporadic rises are a window of opportunity to catch a trout, as soon the river is boiling with rises, the aggressive splashy rise that shouts ‘mayfly’ to the angler. There are so many fish rising that it seems that he can’t fail to catch a fish. But with so many flies on the water the trout seem to be ignoring his fly, and when they do take the fly the temptation is to strike too soon. Eventually, with the right pattern and the right presentation, the first few trout are caught. Sometimes, it is so easy it becomes no challenge at all and perhaps a wee bit boring? Better to stop fishing now and admire the spectacle!

Now our angler looks up into the trees alongside the river and sees hundreds of mayfly spinners dancing, with swallows and gulls enjoying a feast. More excitement – there will be a fall of spinners perhaps this evening, another great opportunity to catch rising trout on dry flies. More waiting. Dusk, and all too often there are still no spinners and the unmated mayfly retreat to the trees to try again tomorrow and the angler goes home to try again tomorrow too. 

They also have some lovely images on their website

In this video Allan Shephard and Jonathan Tomlinson are on the pretty River Dever in Hampshire where they take us through a typical mayfly fishing session.

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