More commonly know in Aussie fly circles as the ‘Alex’, it is another fly imported by our forefathers. It was originally concocted as a sea trout fly under its old name of ‘lady of the lake’ sometime in the mid 1800’s: later it was re-named in honour of Princess Alexandra.
Here in Australia it has become a popular wet fly pattern for both lakes and streams. Because of its bright colouration it is a particularly effective fly on discoloured streams in early spring and again in autumn when the first flushes of freshwater hit the streams signalling the start of spawning runs.
When you look at the pictures you might think it looks nothing like an Alex, and you would be part way right, it doesn’t look like the original tie. I have put my own spin on the pattern and again tried to tie the fly using more modern and recent innovations in tying materials.
In lakes it is used as a searching fly, again great to use around flooded lake margins along the seam line between discoloured and clear water. In larger sizes it is used often at night around bays and inlets of inflowing streams where fish will congregate waiting to move into the stream proper to spawn. I have used it to great effect in places like Creel Bay and around Providence Portal and the mouth of the Eucumbene River; when there was water up that way of course.
Stream fishing is where the Alex really gets going especially in the previously mentioned high water conditions. Now if the river is so high that it is the colour of milky coffee it is not going to be that good unless fished in ultra large sizes around the edges. But when the stream is just up and slightly off colour the Alex has just the right amount of colour to attract interest as it swings down through the current.
Casting across and down is a great way to fish this fly, that way you get to work the entire section of river from the far bank through the deeper sections of the run or pool and then the shallow margins on the near bank, moving downstream a metre or so at a time before re-casting.
Takes when they come can be quite hard as the fish rushes to snatch the fly as it is ripped by in the current this can result in pulled hooks, short takes or popped tippets. To counter this I hold the rod level with the rod tip about a metre above the water. This forms a small loop of line from the rod to the water which in some ways acts as a bit of a shock absorber as the fish takes. If you are on the ball you will feel a change in the tension of the line between your fingers as the fish takes the fly.
Fishing flooded lake margins can make for some exciting fishing. Fish move into the murky waters to forage for items of food and fishing the Alex along the dividing line between the dirtier and clean water is a great method to contact these fish. Early morning, evening or all day on those overcast miserable days are the best times for this method.
|HOOK:||Mustad R72 LS Nymph|
|WING:||Crystal Flash (rainbow) Sparkle Flash (forest)|
|BODY:||Pearly Mylar tinsel|
|TAIL:||Dyed red hen neck|
|HACKLE:||Dyed red and black hen neck|