Louie the Fish
When I first came to NZ in 1980, Cicada hatches (and everything else in nature), were more regular than it is now. New Zealand has nine species of Cicada, some big and dark; some small and tan or green. The big ones would hatch in the willows in the Lower Tongariro river; and, if it was a big hatch many monster browns and rainbows would enter the lower river to feast on cicadas. Up at nearby trophy lake, Otamangakau, the smaller cicadas would get blown on the water causing unbelievable feeding frenzies and we all spent many hours trying to tie accurate or effective cicada flies. Some were really wild. I remember American angler Ralph tying ones with little painted smiley faces. They all worked I am sure. But after staring at many dead cicadas, I came up with this recipe, my proudest achievement in a lifetime of fly tying.
Way back then I entered this pattern in a fly contest run by New Zealand Fishing News and won! Over the next decades this fly was my go-to secret weapon for my summertime clients. I once had two Brits up the river. One guy was from the famous (and snobby) River Test area; but he’d never tried fly fishing and his mate was experienced too. I set them down in the Cherry Pool in waders, with huge trout slurping cicadas all around us. I then gave the novice a quick casting lesson, showed him how to dead drift the big fly, and told him if a trout ate it say, “God saves the Queen!” before setting the hook. This is important as Browns often just pull the fly under with their nose, then slurp it.
We started to walk away so I could guide his mate, but we only got a few yards upriver when the novice started yelling that he got one! We helped him land a 12-pound jack brown. Once again we started to walk away and he yells out again, and we again, helped him land an 11-pound brown hen. His “experienced” mate never did get one that day because he always struck too soon! The guy from the River Test went back to England to brag to his Landed Gentry, old boy fishing mates on the Test, where a double digit Brown on dry fly is the catch of a lifetime and he got two trophy Browns in NZ in his first 15 minutes on the water!
My biggest brown on this cicada was close to15-pounds, released, in the Tongariro river. This fly went on to catch many hundreds of huge trout for my clients over a few decades in NZ, and a few years ago I sent some to a buddy who fishes dries for Atlantic Salmon on the Cascapedia River. He soon sent me a photo with him holding a 30 pounder that refused 5 other dry flies, but he closed the deal with my cicada; and has since caught even bigger ones on my fly. There are too many stories about this fly to include here, but I hope some of you will have the same luck using my cicada and add more stories to its long list of accomplishments.
Lets pray for another big Cicada Hatch!
Louie the Fish
1. Hook: TMC5212 or similar, sizes 10 up to 4.
2. Thread: Your favorite dry-fly thread – whatever works.
3. Underbody: Genuine Glo-Bug Yarn in Steelhead Orange.
4. Body: Yellow foam carved with scissors to shape.
5. Super Glue – not gel form.
6. Body color: Use brown or green permanent markers.
7. Head and wing: Deer hair in natural or colored; clear packaging tape.