Spent Caenids
  |  First Published: April 2009

Autumn is the time for all things beautiful in nature; it is also the time of year when one of the smaller families of the mayfly family appears. The Caenids, although not the prettiest of the mayfly, can at times be the most prolific in terms of hatches.

The Caenid is a truncated version of some of its larger cousins; a small stumpy body, bulbous head, no hind legs and a single set of oversized wings. They are a particularly small mayfly, generally in the micro range of flies and require hooks of #22 and smaller.

They are often referred to as the fisherman’s curse due to the number of them hatching making it difficult for an imitation to fool a fish over myriad naturals on the water. They generally hatch early in the morning commencing before first light through until when the early morning autumn mist begin to lift off the water. On overcast or dull days this hatch may be prolonged until much later in the day.

Most fly tiers will struggle to tie this size pattern let alone see the hook to tie an imitation with; you then have the inconvenience of trying to thread micro-fine tippets through an almost nonexistent hook eye in the wee hours of the morning, but such as we fly fishers are we will try.

Prime spots

Given that these mayflies are on the tiny side they are not really a fast water or riffle option. Fish them in slow pools, tail out glides, backwaters and side eddies. The dead and spent Caeinid will accumulate in the bubble lines and backwashes where trout can scoop them up at will. Fishing the bubble lines is the best option as trout will line up nose to tail and pick off food items as they drift past. The takes are usually a very relaxed affair: either a gentle sip or a very slow head and tail rise.

You will not see your fly, only a rise close to where you think it might be. You can guess when you see a rise and slowly tighten and hope to feel resistance, or you can try a better method and that is to watch you leader. If you see it pause or slowly draw upstream it is a fair chance your deception has worked.

Almost 90% of a successful deception is in the presentation. Leaders should be as light as you dare and presentations delicate, as is befitting the genteel nature of mayflies.

There is never a need to go overboard or get too heavy handed with gear at this time of year. The water levels are usually low and flows light so break out the light rods and light leaders. This will help with your delicate presentation. A 3wt is a good option, with your leaders no heavier than 2kg.




Hook: Kamasan B401#18
Thread:Black 6/0
Tail:Grey micro fibbets
Dubbing:Black midge dubbing
Wing:Enrico Puglisi trigger point spinner wing
Hackle:Small black cock hackle

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