Round bottoms and long legs - Big Flies!

Daniel Hackett

Attractor Flies
If there were ever any facts that could be agreed on in fly fishing, it would be that "Chernobyl Ants" have nothing to do with ants, that there is no such thing as a "Stimulator" hatch and that the Cricket does not provide a consistent food source for the fish of Great Lake. Despite these facts, these comparatively large "attractor" flies with their fat bodies and long legs can result in excellent dry fly fishing in the absence of any surface food, or indeed during a heavy hatch.

The Flies
The Chernobyl Ant, Stimulator and the black Cricket (a.k.a. the Cockroach) are three big dries that have proven themselves in Tasmanian conditions. These are easy to see flies (which can be very important for fishers who have trouble seeing their flies), their size brings fish to the surface that otherwise would have ignored a smaller traditional dry, and all of the flies are versatile in the situations in which they can be used.
On the lakes these flies can be used as the top fly of a two or three fly rig fished in a loch style manner, cast down wind and retrieved back at varying speeds. With the large fly on top, a smaller more imitative / suggestive pattern can be tied on the point such as a Bob's Bits or a Bibio Hopper in size 12 or 14. Rocky windward shores can favour the Chernobyl Ant on lakes like Arthurs" and Great Lake whilst the Stimulator works well in the shallower weedier bays where mayflies are present at times. The black Cricket is the number one Great Lake fly for some, again fish loch style or along the rocky shores where it can bring fish up from several metres down.
For river fishing the Chernobyl or the Stimulator can make excellent dry flies as part of a dry fly / nymph rig. They are both excellent floaters, easy to see, and fish love nailing them - they really do hit the fly like a train wreck at times! If you're more of a dry fly only crank, the Stimulator is great stand alone dry on large and tiny rivers alike, and easy to see (a good alternative to a Royal Wulff).

Best places and best rigs
There are no rules in fly fishing, just generalisations, but here are some places and rigs to try with these big and ugly flies.
Arthurs Lake
Chernobyl with a Bob's Bits on the point fish against the Rocky shores on the western side of Brazendale island.
Stimulator fished with a Possum Emerger in the Lily Ponds or along the Eastern Side of Brazendale island.
Great Lake
Stimulator, Chernobyl or black Cricket fished on a bright day with a Bob's Bits or Caret fly on the point. Fish the wind lanes or shallow water alike, casting down wind in a loch style fashion, or even better, sight fishing.
Single Chernobyl or Cricket fished from the shore at dawn or dusk along the rocky shores.
Macquarie River
Stimulator and a bead head nymph on a two-foot dropper Oct - Nov and Feb- April.
Chernobyl Ant and a bead head nymph on a two-foot dropper Mid Dec-March.
Small Streams
Stimulator fished on a nine to twelve foot leader, fished in the foam lines, pocket water and pools.
Stimulator with a small bead head nymph tied on a two foot dropper for the pools and deeper runs.

Fly recipes

Chernobyl Ant
Hook: Heavy gauge long shank 8-14
Thread: 6/0 black
Underbody: Foam with colour of preference cut to size and shape.
Overbody: Black foam cut to same size and shape as under body foam.
Legs x 8: Thin black rubber such as the Spirit River rubber legs, or UNI-Flexx black.
Sight Indicator: Small piece of bright foam or similar.

Stimulator (Dan's variant)
Hook: Partridge YK12ST emerger / caddis size 12-18 or similar
Thread: 6/0 black
Ribbing: Fine copper wire
Tail: Bucktail or similar (stacked)
Abdomen: Black Possum
Rear hackle: Black cock palmered forward
Wing: White (stacked) deer hair
Head: Red Glo-brite, Danville's flat waxed nylon or similar
Front hackle: Grizzly dyed brown
Legs x 4 (optional): UNI-Flexx black or similar

Black Cricket (a.k.a. Cockroach)
Hook: Heavy gauge long shank 8-12
Thread: 6/0 black
Ribbing: Fine copper wire
Tail: Black seals fur or similar
Abdomen: Black seals fur
Rear hackle: Black cock palmered forward
Wing: Black raffia
Head: Black deer hair flared and spun similar
Legs x 2: Knotted black cock feathers with filaments trimmed to shape and size. Tied in behind deer hair head.

Final tips
On a good day these flies may bring up to five times more fish to the fly than a small conventional dries would have. The fish may boil or charge these flies, only to come back and eat them once the fly and its legs start kicking about in the wake - so don't strike until the fish has ate it! Getting these fish to eat the fly can be the hard part, and this is where the smaller point fly often comes into its own.
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