The Fingernail Smelt
  |  First Published: August 2013

Late winter and spring can be boon times for the dedicated lake angler, rising water levels and schools of smelt that congregate along the shallow flooded margins encourage some of the large hungry post spawn trout to come looking for a high protein meal.

These bruisers cruise along the shoreline until they encounter a school then turn on the after burners and charge them with malicious intent, stunning and confusing the hapless smelt, They then turn and saunter back through the carnage to pick off the damaged smelt.

Flooded shorelines can be littered with bust-ups as these trout do their work. Often due to the nasty weather and or rapid rise of the water level the lake edges can be muddied often with a distinctive line between the dirty edge water and the drop off into deeper water.

Schools of smelt use the muddy edges for protection, but if they venture too far into the clearer water they often become victims.

This pattern is ideal for fishing the colour change, fished in short erratic strips along the edge of the dirty water is a deadly method, the flashy dubbing and glitter provide the little flashes that imitate the smelt flitting and darting in and out of cover.

This pattern is pretty adaptable in that you can change the colour of the material to suit baitfish patterns in your local area, aside from that tied in much smaller sizes it can also double as a tadpole pattern: a black version would be deadly in Tasmania’s Great Lake.

I have used this fly as a tadpole pattern to great effect on some of the lakes in the central highlands of Tasmania, particularly Bronte and some of the lakes in the 19 Lagoons area.

To prepare the fingernail fold it in half length-wise. Once that has been done colour the fingernail with whatever colour you choose. I user a Copic airbrush that uses specialised pens that comes in a huge range of colours. Once the false nail has dried, use a can of estapol clear varnish and spray the nails.

When it has dried then attach it to the fly and coat with clear nail varnish as previously described.


HOOK:Daiichi streamer #4

THREAD:UTC black 210 denier

BODY: Lead wire and SLF prism dubbing in olive brown

WING:Enrico Puglisi Sparkle fibres and polar fibres in Chartreuse, and black

HEAD:False fingernail with stick on eyes

Reads: 2014

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