Cicada insect patterns for trout fly fishing with John Hey

Cicada Insect Patterns

Olive deer hair cicada. Cicada insect patterns.
Olive deer hair cicada.

The number one contender in the chirpy insect stakes must be the cicada. The sound of cicadas can be heard everywhere throughout the countryside on warm summer days. Cicada insect patterns make big juicy targets for feeding trout.

I don’t think any insect imitation has accounted for more double-figure trout than a well-tied cicada.

There have been a couple of cicada patterns in my fly box for some time that I hadn’t been using because I was catching fish on other patterns, namely Humpys and Stimulators. These work fine! But in fast bubbly pocket water, they quickly become soaked. They also don’t ride’ well on the water.

Hot breezy summer days spent on a clear mountain stream are just the ticket for some glorious fishing. Your casting accuracy won’t be at its best because of the wind, but it doesn’t have to be! These big insects are blown into the stream. It isn’t long before the hungry trout are looking up for them. They take floating cicadas from the surface with great gusto!

Size and colour are the most important factors with your cicada patterns: I use a pattern called Olive Cicada, tied with olive, deer hair, a mottled wing, and a few small strands of Krystal Flash under the wing. I prefer a size 8 hook.

One good thing about fishing the cicada is that you don’t have to look for the hatch, so to speak. You can hear them when they are active.

Walk very quietly when moving up-stream as these big insects are blown onto the

Olive deer hair cicada. Cicada insect patterns.
Olive deer hair cicada. Viewed from above.

Surface. The fish can be right in close to the bank to catch any unwary morsel that floats their way.

I recently planned a trip to the Canterbury high country. This time my intention was to fish a river instead of one of the lakes. I awoke at 7.30 in the morning and lay in bed for another hour deciding which river to fish. I finally decided to go up the – sorry – Stoney Creek #1234!?*%.”

There was a gentle north-easterly blowing in town as we headed up to the hills. As we approached our destination, without a cloud in the sky, the wind turned to a stiff northwester. With the river now in sight, the strong wind was soon forgotten. The stream was low and clear.

Now to find a spot for the family so they could see what was happening. This was my day to catch a fish! We pulled over in the car and made a quick survey of the river:

I could see some 200 metres of good fishable runs and pocket water that could be holding fish.

To begin I tied on a hare and pheasant nymph along with an indicator to my 6 lb Seaguar fluorocarbon tippet.

I worked my way back towards the car. It was hard work controlling the line in the strong wind, but it wasn’t long before a plump 3 lb brownie was dancing around on the surface. It was quickly landed and returned to the water.

Moving up and casting overall fishable water I nearly stepped on a huge fish sitting just a rod length from the bank. A flick of the wrist and the nymph landed just to one side.

He came over for a look. But no! He didn’t want it. With all the chirping going on I had just the idea. On went a cicada.

I cast it out but the stiff breeze had other ideas. It was third time lucky when up he came after it, as if he had been waiting for it to land on just that spot all morning. Home went the hook. I was hit with the sudden realization that this was a big powerful fish.

He had a few tricks of his own in mind and shot off downstream. He went around this boulder, and that boulder, and then under a ledge. Then he headed down through the pool, but the bend in my flyrod showed that I was beginning to win the struggle.

The fish was on the surface now and beginning to tire. I guided him into a slower piece of water. With wet hands lofted in triumph my third double-figure trout was taken on a fly, and my first on a dry fly! After a few photographs, he was released to fight another day.

My wife Donna returned to the car as I fished on. I dried out the cicada and began to work back towards the car. On arrival at some bubbly fast water in the middle of the river, I was rewarded with another take. Up went the rod tip. Another big trout was off down the pool! This time I was a little harder on the fish and I was able to lead him in a little quicker.

It is amazing how you play your first fish as though you had a one-pound cast with a wind knot in the middle, and the next fish as though the tippet was 20 lb. This fish also broke double figures and was returned to the water with his mate.

Two big trout on one day was a great experience. For some these were fish that you might catch once in a lifetime. I feel very privileged. We have fishing in this country that is worth fighting for. These big trout are more valuable alive than dead.

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