The Soft Hackled Fly on the South Branch

by Brian O’Rourke
Reprinted from the “NZ Fishing and Shooting Gazette” September 1955.

The South Branch of the Waimakiriri River is about 12 miles from Christchurch – a long way on a bicycle with a load of fish! 
Years ago it used to be the main bed of the river but the upper end was blocked off to allow the speedier passage of flood waters down a specially constructed straight channel. The water which makes up the South Branch is seepage from under the gravel barrier.
Thus the Branch rarely if ever becomes discoloured. This makes for a particularly stable bed on which insect larvae and other small aquatic creaser find a permanent and untroubled home. The great variety and amount must account for the excellent condition of trout caught in the Branch.
The greater majority of anglers use the dry fly. My first ventures on the stream were with the conventional heavily-hackled dry fly.
I attempted nothing fancy but merely ”fished the water.” 
This brought about three fish a day averaging out at three-quarters of a pound each. 
About that time I happened to read an informative book by Major Hills called “River Keeper.” Hills introduced me to not only “fishing the rise” but also the art of upstream nymphing. These additional techniques brought results of bigger fish and more fish per day.
Two Angles
‘The technique has two aspects:- firstly the stalking of the fish and secondly the fishing of the sim-sunken fly. 
A fly floating in and not on the surface film of the water has an advantage in that it can represent both the rising nymph and the drowned imago. In anywise it certainly takes more fish.
The Black Gnat, Red Tip and Greenwell’s Glory are all useful flies, however Lunn’s Particular and the Partridge and Orange have proved to be most effective.
This is the dressing I use for the Partridge and Orange:-
Hook size: 14 to 16.
Hackle: Two turns brown partridge
Body: fine tying silk ribbed with fine gold wire.
The fly has no wings or tail.
It is fished upstream on 4x gut with the fly kept at such a stage of wetness that it floats not on, not under, but in the surface film.
Should it happen that fish though not rising are yet feeding, then the fly after it has been thoroughly moistened in the mouth, can be fished as a nymph, i.e. deeper below the surface.

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