Phryganea Grandis is not a name many at Hillend will be familiar with as I’m probably correct in thinking that Latin is not the first language of your average angler in the Airdrie and District Angling Club.
This grandiose and very scientific sounding name belongs to the creature which is the largest of all the caddis flies in the British isles and which starts life in the weed, stones, mud and silt on the floor of the Loch. I’m of course referring to the Great Red Sedge or to give its colloquial name The Big Sedge. Here at Hillend we tend to be unimaginative in the naming of everything in these environs for example our topography includes the Big Moss, The Big Stane, The Big Hoos, The Big Island and of course Big Robbie.
The Big Sedge life cycle starts when the larvae emerge from their eggs two weeks after they have been layed. The larvae then make a cylindrical case around their bodies from a variety of materials such as minuscule pieces of grit and decaying weed etc. from the bottom of the loch.
The sedge exists in larvae form for almost a year then it emerges from its cocoon and develops into a pupae and then swims to the surface to complete its metamorphosis and hatch into adult sedge.
It’s at his stage when the fun begins for the Hillend anglers.
The Big Sedge makes it annual appearance at our loch in the Month of June. The great abundance and hatches of these creatures at Hillend has led to many memorable nights of fishing for our club members as the trout which inhabit our water cannot resist this easy food source and are often fooled by our artificial flies.
The hatches of the Big Sedge occur at night and reach their peak just as its getting dark. In the early evening you will encounter the odd sedge here and there but it’s usually late when the real action starts and the big wild brown trout leave the safety of their shady rocks and boulders and make a dash and a leap at the skittering sedges as they make their way across the surface of the water.
There are many fly patterns that imitate the sedge; the most commonly used sedge pattern at Hillend is the muddler or the famous G&H sedge. As I tie my own flies I tend to experiment and try out my own variations of patterns. For example I tie up various balloon caddis, sedge hogs, cdc sedges and many more. Of course standard wet patterns such as Invictas, Cinnamon and Gold and various dabblers can also be successful.
So far I have painted a picture of the month of June at Hillend as a time when an angler cannot fail to fool the trout at the loch.
Of course this is not true. A lot is dependent on the weather conditions. On some occasions the sedge won’t even make an appearance especially if it’s cold and windy. Even when they do hatch in abundance it can often be a frustrating time as sometimes the trout will completely ignore the artificials and gorge themselves on the real insects.
Years of experience have taught me to expect the ups and downs of fishing at Hillend. It’s what makes my interest of fly-fishing so compelling and what drives me to go back time after time.