A #12 Black and Gold chironomid fly with starling feathers on the thorax.

A #12 Black and Gold chironomid fly with starling feathers on the thorax.

Give dry line chironomid fly fishing a try

Historically, as I recall, dry line chironomid fishing in British Columbia started in the mid ’60s and early ’70s at about the same time Jack Shaw was doing his original work with wet lines. I am not certain who really got it going but I do know that a group of fly fishers who made a habit of fishing Leighton and Tunkwa lakes (Kamloops) were avid practitioners of dry line chironomid fly fishing.

Tom Murray, a well-known local fly fisher, was in that pioneer group. They fished fairly shallow lakes with long leaders and dry floating fly lines. Among our local lakes there is a group of chironomid fly fishers based around Parksville and Nanaimo who do very well with this method. I have also done well with this method on Spider Lake. I may be wrong, but I am convinced this method of fly fishing could be adapted to successfully fish Kokanee in Vancouver Island lakes and the Interior.

The next phase in the development of this highly specialized type of fly fishing was the addition a strike indicator on a long leader. A strike indicator is a float or bobber associated with dry line fly fishing. It is a small float that is attached to a long leader, allowing the angler to fish depths of up to 50 feet. In Sheridan Lake near 100 Mile House they catch very large trout using this method. Most people use 10- to 20-foot leaders. Several fly patterns are used.

In the pupa stage, chironomid insects must be quite active in the lower depths of the lake before emerging as adults by a slow migration to the surface. There are millions of them and they form a large part of trout diets in most lakes. The flies we tie to represent them are small sizes ranging from #12 down to #18 in most situations.

These flies are slim patterns designed to slowly sink through the water column. In the case of fishing with a strike indicator and leaders in excess of 20 feet at times, casting becomes a challenge. Fly rods designed for this speciality are often 10-feet long with quite soft actions. To assist the fly in sinking, a small swivel may be tied up to five feet from the end of the leader.

This type of fly fishing is not for the beginner and is a classic case of the saying – “It is about fishing – not catching fish.” If you wanted to try this method yourself and have trouble casting long leaders try this little trick: Rig your dry line with an appropriate strike indicator set-up, put the set-up over the side of the boat, play out some line and move a few feet from the strike indicator and put down your anchors. Or if it is calm just simply float around in the area you are fishing and watch the strike indicator like a hawk, and at the indication of a strike – set the hook!

I am not certain why, but trout taken by deep-line chironomid fishing tend to be quite large. Trout in the three- to five-pound range are frequently taken in Spider Lake by using the deep line techniques on either wet or dry lines.

Deep line fly fishing with dry lines requires long rods and reasonably good fly casting skills. There are, however, simple ways to get around the long casting challenge by putting your fly on a long leader and letting it out over the stern. Then row away from the leader while playing out line. After you have rowed 60 to 70 feet from your leader just stop and let the fly slowly sink while your floating line stays on the surface. After about a minute slowly retrieve the fly and watch movement of the tip of the floating line for a strike.

Good luck!

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.

 

Just Posted

The CF Snowbirds in action. (Erin Haluschak photo)
Homecoming for B.C.-raised Snowbirds pilot training in the province

Capt. Arpit Mahajan flies Snowbird 2 in his first year as a solo pilot with the team

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is accepting homeownership applications for its next build. Photo supplied
Habitat for Humanity prepares for next build in Courtenay

A forever home for some, a step forward for others

The development permit application for the back of a property at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave has now been approved by council. Record file photo
Cumberland approves secondary home permit second time around

Mayor Leslie Baird said the applicant’s additional drawings provided more info for her

This house at 1514 Trumpeter Cres. is currently for sale, with a disclaimer that the property was used for a cannabis grow operation in the past. Photo by Record staff
Drug trafficking at Courtenay residence nets over $250K forfeiture

Ruling comes from a search warrant executed in 2016 on Trumpeter Crescent home

The inaugural board meeting for the last UBID board was held online May 6. Screenshot, Zoom meeting
Union Bay board says no to ‘No’ side committee addition

Community is preparing to move its services to regional district for July

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)

Most Read