It was a great idea – head down to Taupo for an extended week-end of early Winter fishing before the really bad weather kicked in. Even better was the fact that my middle son Jason, could join me for the Saturday and Sunday. Well that was the plan, Stan, but the dirty digit of destiny stuck one finger in the air, skewing the plot.
I left Auckland for the usually 3.5 hour drive to Te Rangiatia, south of Taupo at 4am, but halfway down to Taupo a bout of food poisoning erupted, literally, slowing progress to a stop-start crawl – the 3.5 hours turned into 7 hours till I finally arrived and crawled into bed, heaving and moaning like a beached whale. Not pretty!
But next day, Sunday, I sprung from my cot full of the joys of living and Jason and I headed off to the Tongariro. We fished hard for most of the morning with only a reasonable fresh run fish to me. Jason decided to head up-river to a piece of water he spotted on the way down.
I laboured on for a while, fishless, till I decided to follow upstream, just in time to find him attached to a good jack which dragged him downstream. While he was engaged landing his fish I tossed a few casts into the lie, to no avail. Jason returned, I let him back in, and on his first or second cast he hooked up again and danced downstream on the boulders chasing the fish.
This same sequence repeated once again once he let his latest fish go. I could not buy a fish so Jason took pity on me, and gave me a Cadillac nymph, the fly he was getting his fish on. Made no difference – Jason would return from landing his latest fish, take over from where I was fruitlessly casting and hook up again. I think this happened 5 or 6 times – I lost count – probably did not want to count.
But I did not waste my time completely, I did some thinking. The Cadillac Pheasant Tail fly certainly did the business for Jason. It was not a fly I had come across before – and really it it is not that revolutionary – a standard pheasant-tail with fine legs. A bit of foraging around the net later revealed the pattern is not new and comes in a variety of guises.
Some are your basic pheasant tail nymph, with thin rubber legs. Others have a dubbed body and a moose hair wing case using the surplus moose hair tied back to form legs.
The nymph represents a mayfly or perhaps a stone-fly, and in the particular piece of water Jason fished so successfully, a boulder bottom with swift water over the top, my guess the fly was being seen as a stone-fly.
Either way, the next time my fly-tying bench beckons, Cadillacs are top of the fly-tying project list.