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Gravel bed fly/Sand fly.

Started by sagecirca, May 08, 2023, 02:04:46 PM

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Over on the other place someone started a thread asking about the gravel bed fly. I replied with some pictures and information from my previous experiences over the years.

This last week or so it has been a hatch that has featured in my fishing and followed by a positive ID from fellow forum member Matt Eastham and having looked through some old archives of mine, I have found a couple more pictures that I thought worthy of sharing and to start some discussion on what is a thoroughly depressing wet and windy bank holiday. And on top of this, I was speaking to a River Clyde regular yesterday who furnished me with some of his experiences.

This was hatching the Sunday before last on a wee northern stream...


The river bank on this part of the river was mainly a mixture of fine sand and gravel. The weather was relatively bright with some cloud cover and on closer inspection of the bank, you could describe it as crawling with gravel fly. Their behaviour on the water though was where they stood out. They require a wind to blow them onto the water but once there, their distinctive movement of dancing around in very small circles while standing on their tiptoes makes them further unique. A clear pattern of behaviour that the trout key in on IMO - witnessed by watching several trout dash yards off station to smash into them. It is also an impossible behaviour to mimic when presenting your offerings in flat, slow water! That is my excuse anyway!


From early May 2014, I came across the picture above which was taken during an incredibly dense hatch on the Lamington stretch of the Clyde. The pool was just above the quarry (this run no longer exists) and was accompanied by both the emergence of iron blue duns and olive uprights. The fish were locked on the gravel bed fly and I remember only figuring this out some 30 minutes or so into a frustrating period of refusals. Normally, and I have seen this countless times, that you assume fish are on the OU but in fact are taking the much smaller IBD. When you switch to smaller imitations you start hitting every fish that is feeding. This however, wasn't the case. A small black hackled pattern rescued the situation and I took some fine fish during the rest of the hatch.


On speaking to a fellow Clyde regular, I was telling him about my previous trips and mentioned this fly. He shared that it was a stable and regular hatch that many Clyde fishers looked forward too around the month of May. It took up that period between the end of the large spring hatches and the beginning of the OU and IBDs that May is more normally reserved for. He has seen a gradual decline in their appearances season after season and offered that in today's climate, is now a rare event. He blames the amount of pesticides the farmers use and the subsequent runoff into the river banks for their demise.

There isn't a great deal online about this particular event other than several brief hits. One of them is something I have written about in  past life on another forum. When searching through some old archived photos, I also came across this picture dated the 4th of May, 2012...

IMG_0655 copy.jpeg

First of all, the fish handling is appalling. I am glad to say that my C&R practice is one million percent better! It was my first trophy trophy fish from this river and I recall it taking black uprights of some description. The fish was nailing every fly that came over its head at the top of a very fast run. The crystal clear water afforded a fine view of its feeding behaviour. Dropping deep before rising through the water column and repeating for every morsel it chose worthy of effort. I tempted it on a black klinkhammer and looking back, it is pretty clear that the gravel bed fly was responsible. I think at the time I assumed they were black gnats and searched for something similar in my box.

They might not feature on the Clyde as much but this wee stream seems to be holding strong. Perhaps some of the older guard of the forum can share their experiences of this hatch?!



Great work a nice read indeed.


Certainly looks like a  stonefly with the wings held flat. Never seen them black before but we used to get them in olive green at this time of year on the Don and the fish latched on to them.


Recently I have used this small hog with legs which has a little "bloody black" ice dub. This to match quite large black midgie flees. Does OK.
~  <°))))):><       ~   <°))))):><


Fly I use is as follows

Hook.  12 lightweight
Thread. purple
Body. Light dub Mole fur
Wing. hen Pheasant tied pent
Hackle. Black two turns, long

Look for this fly around May

Tight Lines
" The Future's Bright The Future's Wet Fly"

Nemo me impune lacessit

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