Springtime Stones
  |  First Published: November 2007

Warm spring days are my favourites; the feeling of a warming breeze against my back and icy cold melted water at my feet. It awakens me from a winter stupor and enthuses me about the season to come, like Mother Nature awakening the earth from a winter slumber.

The first real hatches of the season begin to occur as the warm breeze wafts in, carrying the heady sweet smell of wattle blossom and tea tree, and the first clumsy flights of early season hatchers, the stoneflies.

Stoneflies are nocturnal hatchers and the nymphs crawl from the streams and drag themselves into the safety of streamside vegetation. However, as the first breezes of the day begin during the morning, some of the resting insects will be lifted onto the breeze and left to their fate in the elements. And stoneflies are notoriously clumsy fliers.

They have elongated greyish-coloured bodies between 10–20mm in length. They have dual, swept back wings along and over the top of the body, and often mistaken for a termite.

Even though stonefly adults do not make up a large part of the stream trout’s diet, the stonefly nymph is a significant food item. This does not make the adult any less effective or worthy of the trout’s attention, as they make up the first real insect surface activity of the new season.


Trout rising to stones is a sporadic affair at the best of times, as the insect is airborne and not streambound. The supply of naturals is not constant, and they only become available as the ungainly fliers make unscheduled splashdowns in the stream. There is no greater pleasure than to see the little circle of water carrying your imitation suddenly disappear into a circular tsunami of rings – the first rise of the season.


The faster riffle sections of streams are the favoured areas for stonefly nymphs. The streamside vegetation is the prime lair of the resting stonefly in these areas, and this is where the trout will congregate to pick off the wayward insects as they lose their footing or are blown onto the water. These are the areas you need to be placing your fly, drifting the imitation under bankside shrubs and tussock clumps. This usually always brings some sort of response from trout bent on stones.


There is a simple fly to tie for those beginning on the wondrous path of bug creation. The most difficult part of this fly is getting the wings right, they are cut from the plastic sleeve of photographic negatives. A good template is the jaws of a pair of artery forceps, either cut around them or use a lighter and burn.

The natural has four wings, but I won’t tell if you don’t and I doubt the trout care either. For an extra bit of authenticity you can colour the wings with a black permanent waterproof marker (wipe the excess before the ink is fully dry) and you should get a nice dark slate-grey effect that matches the natural nicely.



Attach the thread to the hook and take to the bend, then apply the dubbing to the thread


Dub the body to form a small slim body.


Prepare wings as shown.


Tie in the wings as shown.


Check the profile of the wing.


Tie in the hackle,


Wind the hackle on and whip finish the fly.



HOOK:Mustad R30 # 12
THREAD:Black pre-waxed 8/0
BODY:Adams midge dubbing
HACKLE:Grizzle hackle

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