Tyrrell's Blue Winged Olive Emerger - Irish Angler Magazine June 2010

  • by Irish Fly Craft Admin
Tyrrell's Blue Winged Olive Emerger - Irish Angler Magazine June 2010

Being surrounded by rising fish but being unable to tempt one led Jimmy Tyrrell to come up with this deadly emerger pattern.

The Blue Winged Olive is one of those patterns that has frustrated many an angler and fly tyer over the years. It can be so hard to imitate at the tying vice, and many a fly tyer has tried to come up with a successful pattern. This has led to a plethora of good patterns out there, all of which that will work at one time or another. And that’s the frustrating thing, as one pattern might work on a given night, but go back the next evening and the same pattern might not get looked at.

It’s also a fly that if you are not in the right place at the right time you will miss the rise as it is so short-lived. So a little local knowledge is a good thing as the fly does not hatch on the entire length of the river, only in certain areas and if you can get to know these stretches of the river some fantastic sport can be had. The blue winged olives really come into their own during the months of June, July and August, but there are hatches of this insect right through to the end of the season.

The story of how I came to tie it illustrates the importance of observation for the angler. Some time ago, during a rise of blue winged olives on my local river, I was having one of those evenings where no matter what fly I put over rising trout they where showing very little interest. This can be very frustrating when there is a good hatch of blue winged olives on, as the rise does not last that long and the last thing you need to be doing is wasting time changing flies.

I got so frustrated that I said to myself maybe I should be trying to find an answer to this puzzle as there were so many fish coming to the surface but none to my fly. As I was stood in the middle of the stream I decided to try and collect some samples for analysis. What I collected in my small flour sifting net that I use for such things was an abundance of small of emergers and shucks from the insects after they had got to the air and left these floating down stream. I took these samples home with me for a closer inspection and see what I could come up with.

What I did learn from that evening was that the trout had been feeding on the emerging insect and this had to be why they were ignoring anything that I had been trying to tempt them with. After a lot of painstaking work trying to dye CDC feathers to the correct shade and trying to get the body shape and style that I thought would get results for me I came up with a very useful pattern to imitate the blue winged olive emerger.

This Blue Winged Olive Emerger pattern has been very useful for me during a hatch of the naturals. It really works well at the start of the rise when the emergers are floating down. The body colour varies, and can be olive or brown as the season goes on. I’ve had more success with the brown shade, but this could vary from river to river. I’ve had some fantastic evenings with this fly when I never had to change it. I’ve also had some evenings where the trout didn’t take it as freely, but I’ve had better fishing with this fly than any other pattern and have caught some of my better fish with it.

"That’s the beauty of fly tying and fly fishing – you think you’ve cracked it and then you’re brought back down to earth!"

Shortly after I first came up with this pattern and there was a week when I was getting some fantastic evening fishing. During that week I was booked to take an American couple out for a day. So that evening I decided to take them to the spot on my local river where I’d had some fantastic sport the previous evening. We got into position waiting for the rise to start but nothing happened apart from a few flies here and there. That is why I’ve said that this is such a frustrating little insect! I just had to fall back on the sedges that evening. We still had some good fishing and they went back to the hotel happy, but it was more of a disappointment for me as I would have loved to have had them fish the rise that I’d had the previous evening. The tying for this pattern is pretty straightforward. There are only three different materials required for the body tail and shuck. I use Thin Skin for the body as this gives the fly a nicely segmented body for that realistic look which I think adds to its effectiveness. The CDC plumes at the head of the fly allow the body to sit nicely just below the surface and the CDC plumes act as the shuck.

It’s a fly that takes a bit of a battering also as the CDC is very fragile and gets worn down if the fish start taking it. I have quite a few of these in the fly box with little CDC left, so it’s no harm to carry a few extra patterns in your fly box.

As I’ve said, this pattern has given me some fantastic sport, but there have also been evenings when it has not tempted many trout. 

Tyrrell's Blue Winged Olive Emerger

Hook: Size 16 down-eyed, short shank, fine wire
Thread: Brown
Tail: Fibres from a coq de Leon feather
Body: Very thin strip of brown mottled Thin Skin
Wing: Two small blue grey CDC plume tied in and looped back

Tying Instructions

Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 1Step One: Tie on the tying silk and wind down to the bend of the hook.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 2Step Two: Tie in the coq de Leon feather tail.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 3Step Three: Cut a thin strip of Thin Skin and tie in at the tail.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 4Step Four: Build up the body to an oval shape with the tying silk.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 5Step Five: Wind up the Thin Skin in overlapping turns and tie off.
Blue Winged Olive Emergerfly tying instructions 6Step Six: Tie in the CDC plumes.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 7Step Seven: Pull the CDC plumes forward and tie in.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 8Step Eight: Pull the remainder of the plumes back with you finger and thumb and tie down.
Blue Winged Olive Emerger fly tying instructions 9Step Nine: Whip finish and varnish.

Tying Tips

Tip 1: Build up the underbody into a nice oval shape with the tying thread before winding up the Thin Skin.
TIP 2: Use just three fibres of wellmarked coq de Leon for the tail.
TIP 3: Don’t pull the Thin Skin too tight when creating the body.
TIP 4: Don’t trim any of the loose CDC fibres as this is what gives the pattern its distinctive appearance.


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