After the success of his simple marabou lures, Ben Bangham sets about looking at the rest of his fly patterns to see if he can adapt the same approach. This month he takes his simple buzzer patterns to Wiltshire’s Manningford Trout Fishery…
Last month I wrote about using simple, easy, quick-to-tie lures using just marabou and a fine wire rib. This proved a success on two levels. Firstly, the response that I received from readers, and secondly, I found that those flies still worked unbelievably well, and this got me thinking along the lines of “Maybe I am missing out on something here; what else can we look at with this whole ‘simple’ ethos?”
I decided that perhaps I needed to look at my buzzers, nymphs, dry flies and maybe even predator flies to see if they sit in this remit. So, with spring around the corner, I decided to look at buzzers.
Ben's simple Nymph-It buzzers. It makes you wonder if we really need ribs, cheeks and breathers!
My buzzers are fairly simple, and they used to be even simpler. I started with the idea of only using buzzers made out of a maximum of two colours of thread, no ribbing or cheeks, as simple as you can get. Could such a simplified version of a fly be anywhere near as effective as its more complicated brothers and sisters?
Try different colours of buzzer.
Pink was one of the standout patterns on the day.
I did want to jazz it up a bit, though, as I’m not such a fan of straight thread buzzers. Toby Merigan from Funky Fly Tying has come out with a great range of materials called Nymph-It, which is a tinsel/thread product that incorporates a lovely bit of flash. Using this great product to make the buzzers I chose a few of my favourite colours and tied an extremely simple set of flies.
I thought they looked pretty good and was more than happy with the outcome. The Nymph-It really came to life when it was all finished and the layers of varnish had dried. I tied up a few colours to give them all a go, but the two that really stood out on the day were the copper/black body with the hot pink UV head as well as the one I tied solely in shrimp-pink UV.
My setup for this article was a bit different to the norm that you might expect or read about when you see articles on buzzer fishing. I set two up, both 9ft 5-wt Sage Bolts teamed up with Rio Gold floating lines, and on the first I opted for a bung approach as it is unbeatable at keeping the buzzers fishing at a particular depth; this was not unusual. However, the second rod was a little bit more ‘out there’. I fished a leader that was about five feet in length and made up of 6lb fluorocarbon straight through to the buzzer.
A simple setup. Unbelievably, a short 5ft leader on floating line with a single, Nymph-It buzzer was the killing tactic.
Now with buzzers you will be used to reading about huge 20 to 25ft leaders fished round in the wind, and I do fish this way as well. Let me take you through my thought process behind the incredibly short leader, though.
It is winter, we had had heavy rain, and as a result Manningford was carrying a slight tinge of colour to it, hampering visibility, as did the wind. Manningford is on the most part a very shallow venue, so I didn’t want to use the huge leaders that I normally would as the flies would end up on the bottom, meaning that they weren’t fishing. So taking all these factors into consideration I decided to use a very short leader indeed.
Buzzers To The Test
Nestled in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, I know Manningford Trout Fishery well and have done a few features there in the past and I wanted to go somewhere where I knew I could catch. I wasn’t sure about the success of these buzzers and thought we might be fishing hard for a few fish. Most trout at this time of year tend to come out on lures, although there can be good days to be had with the naturals and buzzers.
Like it or not, the bung is very effective at holding your buzzers at the key depth.
When I brought out the short leader setup the look that editor Andy Taylor gave me was one of a little bit of misunderstanding mixed with a touch of “What?!” This didn’t last long at all, although we were all a little bit surprised when on the second cast of the day I locked up into a fish. Unfortunately, it dropped off after a second or two, but it was only a couple of casts later though that I was fighting a rather spirited Manningford rainbow. After a few trophy shots I was left thinking this was an unbelievable start to a session.
When another trout graced my net only a few minutes later there was a small cough from over my shoulder, followed by the “What are you using?” question from a fellow angler. I obviously happily showed him my buzzers and presented him with the shrimp-pink buzzer that I had on, and to be honest I think he was as surprised about what I was catching on as I was.
Fishing such a short leader is a bit different to the norm but in the right situation it can be very effective. The conditions on this day really played into my hands when it came to this method. With the wind and the slight colour of the water it meant that the visibility was slightly limited, so I could get away with the shorter leader.
The method that I incorporated was to cast into a likely looking area, let the fly settle there, then give it a nice long strip to make the buzzer rise up and then sink back down. It is very important that you keep eyes peeled when you fish this way. Look for any movement on the line or feel for any twitches – if there is any movement or twitches at all then strike. The takes can come at any time.
Fishing the bung, which was on the other rod, is much easier than fishing straight to the buzzer but it is a bit more limited in what you can do with it. I also feel that sometimes the fish can drop the buzzer when it feels the resistance of the bung. It does come into its own, though, when the fish want something fished static at a certain depth.
Time For A Move
I had watched a few fish moving on the other side of the lake, so I thought that it was time to explore. I crept up to the peg I had seen them in very slowly, to see if I could spot any of the culprits responsible for the disturbance. Sure enough, there were a few nice rainbows mulling about in the area. I cast the pink buzzer into the middle of them and straightaway one of the rainbows changed direction and engulfed the fly.
I had it on for a few seconds before it spat the hook and swam off in a sulk. Luckily for me I could still make out a few fishlike shapes in the area so I made another cast. Due to the visibility I couldn’t make too much out in the water and was really working off moving shadows.
There was a good-sized shadow moving in from the right-hand side so I tried to intercept it with my little pink buzzer. I watched the line as the buzzer descended right in front of the fish – “Perfect!” I thought. It seemed to be right on the money, so when the line twitched I thought I had nailed it. I struck and held on, thinking it was a near double, but to my disappointment the big trout bolted off at a rate of knots, leaving me attached to a much smaller trout. This must have been patrolling with the big fish and had beaten it to the buzzer! Oh well, a fish is a fish.
Once this one was safely in the net for the second time that day I heard “Excuse me, I couldn’t help noticing how many you are catching and was just wondering what you were using?” It just shows that if you get things right then that action can also be fast and furious.
After the success on the main lake we moved to the catch-and-release lake where the sport didn’t seem to slow down, with trout after trout on the buzzers. I had been changing the colours during the day and the two that stood were the brown and pink as well as the shrimp-pink versions.
The Nymph-It Buzzer
Step 1 - Attach the Nymph-It behind the eye of the hook
Step 2 - Take the Nymph-It in touching turns down the shank of the hook to the point above the barb
Step 3 - Take the Nymph-It back up towards the eye of the hook again in touching turns to create a neat, even body.
Step 4 - Build up a nice, neat, teardrop-shaped head/thorax and whip finish
Step 5 - Apply three coats of Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails to complete.
After the success of the simple lures, I can safely say that the buzzers surprised me even more. I was astounded at the reaction to them! This, combined with the fact that they are probably the easiest fly to tie that I have ever come across, makes them a very attractive fly indeed.
The two that caught me the most are now in my main fly box waiting for the season ahead, but I am fairly sure that they will have a permanent place in there from now on.
It also shows that you don’t have to stick with what we term conventional setups. There are times and places where something a bit out of the ordinary really helps you in your quest to catch. I know that at the start of the day Andy looked at me as though I’d gone mad with my short leader setup, but by the end he was sold on the idea and I am sure next time he is faced with a similar situation he to will employ the same arrangement.