Wednesday, 05 April 2017 11:00

Flies For All Seasons - The Harvester

Veniard - The Harvester

Steve Cullen shares The Harvester, which should be all you need to pick off the better early season trout! 


Having done a lot of my river fishing around the start of the season, because this is usually when the ‘muckle troot’ come out to play, there are two flies that dominate – Large Dark Olives and March Browns.

There are a myriad of patterns that can be tried to tempt fish feeding on these flies at the surface, from Spiders, Waterhen Bloa, Partridge and Orange to the good old Greenwell’s Glory. But, and it’s a big but, most flies will have a productive period, a time during the hatch when it mimics whatever it is the naturals are doing.

The Harvester, which is an adaptation and amalgamation of several of my favourite tried and trusted patterns, seems to catch throughout the hatch period and in most flows, too.

It looks like the real deal but, importantly, and this is the key for me, it behaves just like the real deal.

The addition of a dubbing loop of dirty yellow CDC just in behind the wing post seems to really work wonders and triggers something deep in the trout’s feeding psyche.

Another few attributes worth mentioning, and no doubt you can tell from the images, is the use of solely natural materials, materials that move and breathe, yet at the same time have that insecty look of many of our upwing species.

The fly, when it alights on the water, from my perspective anyway, looks exactly like the naturals do as they float in the current, set to take flight when their wings are ready. This dead drift phase can be deadly on the tails of pools, where I often find the larger, less gung-ho trout!


Hook: 130BL, size 12 or 14

Thread: Light Cahill

Tail: Coq de Leon

Body: Olive stripped herl

Thorax: Dirty yellow CDC, in dubbing loop

Wing: Five CDC feathers

For Best Results

Flies For All Seasons The Harvesters Veniard April 16


I like nothing better than to sit on the bank and survey a vast swathe of water. The more I have to focus on the better. Long flat glides, at the tail of pools, just as the water shallows up and speeds towards faster flows. 

On this flat, oily water rises are easily picked out, but you must sit on your hands. Let the little ones rise and the big boys will soon follow. For prospecting find fast pocket water. ‘Popply’ water is best because you can get up close and personal with the trout without them fleeing!



The sensible time to attach this Harvester to the end of your tippet is spring. For me, it was when I started to see the daffodils in bloom, although it must be said that this year I saw some in early February!

March, April and May are bankers for this pattern but, given the size and look of the fly, it does a really good job well into June as the mayflies hatch in numbers. I’ve even had trout take this for the spent late on in the evening, indicating that they were so switched on they would have taken a Coke bottle top if it floated past them!



Dry-fly fishing is all about fooling that one trout, the individual that you are keyed in on, the fellow that has piqued one’s interest. I’m very patient, only once it rises will I apply fuller’s earth to my tippet. My tippet is usually two feet of 0.12mm tied to the end of a 12ft leader tapering to 5lb. I will add floatant to the end of my fly line. Success is all in the detail. By the time I have done both of these the trout should have risen again. This tells me it’s feeding, not just a random ‘oncer’.

I false cast to get line working through the rings; not much, never more than five metres. I like to get as close as possible and if that means getting on my hands and knees, so be it. I always cast short, gauge the line I need, pull it off the reel and deliver the fly a good metre above the riser.

Takes will be instant, even if it’s not dead in the feeding line. At this time of the year, the trout are on it!


Tying The Fly

STEP1 veniard april 16
Place the hook into the vice and wind on the thread. At the end of the body create a bump with several thread wraps. Tie in some Coq de Leon, same length as the body, butt the thread up to the bump to splay the tail


STEP2 veniard april 16
Prepare the herl and secure at the rear. Now take some varnish to the body, this makes the herl less fragile, before winding the herl up in touching turns to the thorax area.


STEP3 veniard april 16
Take five CDC feathers and take your time and align the tips so that they all sit flush. Try and pick feathers of the same size and density.


Tie in the CDC with tight locking turns, leave some space just behind the eye for use later. Once locked in place, trim the butts and tidy up with thread wraps. 


Create the dubbing loop at the end of the thorax area and prepare the CDC fibres, add a little wax to the dubbing loop for grip.


STEP6 veniard april 16
Slide in the CDC fibres and spin the loop, not overly tight, then wind on as the thorax, stopping at the wing post and trim. Now bring the thread up and under the wing post and use thread wraps to push the post back and upright before tying off.

TFF 770 x 210 subs ban

TFF 770 x 210 subs ban

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