Mayfly – Ephemera Danica

In Sussex the Mayfly season is dwindling away. The few flies that emerge from the river in the late afternoon are snapped up by Chaffinches. The wings of the newly emerged fly are a pale yellowy green. As the Mayfly flutters up from the river and heads for the trees, it is easily seen and makes a tasty mouthful. The Chaffinches sit in the tops of the Alder and Willow trees waiting for the next course on the tasting menu. The Swallows zoom down and snap their beaks, rarely missing.

The duns that make it into the trees sit on a leaf or twig overnight and turn into spinners. A smaller and much darker fly.


The small, dark male spinners dance in columns. They rise and fall in fluttering clouds. Some fall into the water and are an easy meal for the trout.

My early Mayfly patterns were quite crude. Over the last three seasons I have refined the dressings and tied them on more suitable hooks. With so many natural flies about the trout can become quite fussy, particularly if they have been caught before.


This is my latest pattern. The hook is a Tiemco 103bl, size 12. The tail is cock pheasant centre tail and the body is closed cell, white neoprene foam ribbed with black silk. The body extends over the hook eye to help it float. The hackle is olive cock and the hackle points are left to imitate the wings. Alternatively, the hackle is wound from further back and the tips clipped off. That gives a lighter dressing for ultra fussy trout.


If the trout are taking spinners, I use the same pattern but with black hackles. The trout don’t know their main source of food is about to disappear. Within a few weeks they will switch to Olives and Sedges.