13 May – Little Springs

The blue sky, bright white clouds and slight chill were perfect conditions for fishing and I was keen to get to Petworth by lunchtime for the Mayfly hatch. Early mornings and late evenings were not necessary. Very civilised. We discussed the weeks fishing over coffee and cakes and it was 2:00pm before I set my rod up and wandered across the newly mown grass towards the swirling Trout.

Over the weekend I had tied several Mayfly patterns and various emerging nymphs. They looked good in the vice. I intended to use each prototype to see if I had designed a successful imitation. At Little Springs the fish were rising but several larger Trout were flashing as they grabbed the nymphs rising towards the surface. The wind blew seeds, leaf debris and Mayfly into the south east corner of the lake. I started with a plastic amber nymph that looked a perfect match. The fish thought otherwise. I faced the sun and swung the fly round on the breeze a couple of feet down. The Trout moved away towards the southern end of the lake. I followed but stayed hidden behind the wall of rushes.


I presented the nymph to a few cruising Trout but they ignored my creation. Perhaps it was too small. I tried a completely white dry Mayfly which was rejected but the next fly, a spent spinner, was taken confidently. I returned the very spirited, unmarked fish from the landing net and dried the fly ready for the next cast. The fly was ignored, the fish were getting spooky.


I chose a fly with a detached body and flicked that out towards a cruising fish. The Trout took the fly but came unstuck after a few seconds. The hook was too small and the hackle obscured the hook point.

The next fly was impossible to cast, it could only be presented to a cruising fish from the hand. False casting would put a horrible twist in the leader and tippet.


I stood well back from the water, careful not to throw a shadow. Eventually a small fish rose close to the rushes and with a gentle overhead flick, I put the fly down in its path. The fish looked at the plastic winged creature and swam past. I retrieved the fly and presented it to a Trout which took without hesitation. I lifted the rod but didn’t connect. The plastic wings had obscured the hook.


I fished until the rise stopped and then experimented with a seals fur Amber Nymph. I had a nip from a Roach and then hooked a large Trout close to the overflow. It came adrift but returned to inspect the fly on the next cast. It wasn’t fooled a second time.

My attempts at designing a killer Mayfly pattern had not been entirely successful.