As autumn draws in, the damp, humid conditions often trigger awesome hatches of the daddy long legs… As crane flies go, the daddy is probably the most recognisable – with six rather dangly legs, small clear wings and long, slender abdomens they’re not the most attractive, but can make trout very, very aggressive.
Daddies can be found in a range of sizes with an overall body length that varies from as short as 1cm to an impressive 3cm.
As weather conditions go, a damp, cool morning with some sun tends to be favourable, the heat on the ground can get the larvae to hatch and produce some exciting sport. It goes without saying that the windier the weather, the better, as much of the time daddies spend in around grassy banks and fields, and get blown onto the water. Due to their size, much of the time they’re forced along the surface – kind of like tumble weed – creating a very pronounced appearance.
As large as they are, trout hardly hesitate to attack and daddies often disappear in a splashy commotion. Much of the time when you’re fishing with daddy patterns, you strike at a take to connect with nothing, due to its size, trout will often try to drown the daddy long legs and take it submerged…
When daddies are on the water fishing can be explosive, so a decent 10ft 7# should suffice, a strong tippet is also recommended, along the lines of 6lb fluorocarbon or 7.68lb Fulling Mill Xtra Copolymer. Using a strong tippet will not only increase your chances of landing the fish, but also give your cast enough stiffness so your flies don’t spin – One issue with using large flies is that they WILL spin when casting, so the thicker tippet will help overcome this somewhat.
I’ve been playing around with daddy patterns for quite some time and needless to say have gone through copious amounts of deer hair, brown foam and hackles. I’ve found that overtime – due to the short ‘season’ that the daddies is present – it’s much easier to buy them – A dozen or so will sort you out for the month that daddies are around, with Fulling Mill’s Daddy Longlegs range being all you ever need. Two personal favourites are the Orange and Natural Real Foam Daddies, fished on a floating line with a hopper in between.
Fishing a team of daddies couldn’t be easier – Simply cast out, let them sit on the surface for 10-15 seconds and then retrieve. Some days the fish will prefer the static approach and on others, they’ll prefer the skating action of the retrieve – trial and error on the day in question will make up your mind. The takes are usually outstanding when static, quite often fish leap clean from the water and slash with their tail in an attempt to drown the fly, and when pulled, the disturbance causes the fish to follow producing some impressive bow waves and hits.
Being such a large fly and fished in almost the same way as ‘pullers’, stockies quite often take a liking to the daddies. Chris Jones and I fished Llandegfedd reservoir last weekend and experienced some outstanding sport on the natural and orange coloured daddies, stroked back in the surface right out in the middle of the lake… Now’s definitely the time to catch the daddy long legs fall!