Whenever I have finished fishing for the day, or when a change of fly is needed, I deposit whatever fly I have removed from my line into a little tupperware box where it joins comrades recently retired from active duty.

There are two flies in that box at the moment that, in my view at least, are quite interesting for one reason or another.The first of them is a little foam beetle that Colin McLachlan tied up. It is simple and understated but it is just the kind of thing that might tempt a barbel to come to the top for a closer look. This particular fly has the unusual distinction of tempting barbel of two different species in October. In Extremadura when I was fishing with Colin I caught a couple of barbel using it that John Langridge, an authority on Spanish barbel, tells me were Guadiana barbel. And then I returned home to my local river, the Guadalhorce, and it took a couple of gypsy barbel there too despite my thinking that dries might be a bit of a long shot at this time of year.

For what it´s worth my own experience with barbel on dry flies is that they prefer something reasonably small. I have tried floating one of Colin´s much larger grasshopper patterns over my local fish but they show little interest.

The second fly is the pattern that I fooled a nice carp with at the end of October. Compared to all the other flies I have taken carp on (nymphs usually) this thing is huge. It is probably a good three inches long or more and tied with materials which make it look lively and conspicuous. I must be honest and point out that discovered that this fly was palatable to carp quite by accident. I tied it up with black bass in mind and, to my surprise, took a carp on it while fishing for bass.

I have a theory about carp which may or may not be true. I suspect they don´t have great eyesight or at least they “switch” to olfactory and tactile senses when they settle to feed and they “rest” their reliance on their sight. It is quite possible to get very close to a feeding carp if you are quiet. When they root around in the sediment they can see little of what they are feeding on anyway.

So the general idea with my monstrous fly is that it might just make a carp which is mooching around suddenly “snap out of it” and grab something that looks edible and seems to be scarpering off. Having said all that I suspect that the Guadalhorce carp would most likely find the thing terrifying. If I used it on them I reckon it would be the carp that do the scampering!

I have only caught two fish with this big fly, both on still waters, but both they were pretty respectable carp.

So here, for the record, are some pictures showing these two flies from my little tupperware box along with some pictures of the fish that were seduced by their charms.



Colin´s foam beetle. This one has a white post but Colin ties them up with posts of different colours.



I tied this thing up for black bass and it turned out to be quite acceptable to carp. I have had to repair its snout after its last outing as the orange thread tends to unravel.



The little foam beetle was taken by a couple of my “local” gypsy barbel.



This is a Guadiana barbel from Extremadura who also showed an interest in the same fly.


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This nice common took the fly I had tied up for black bass. It really came out of the blue as I was casting into the margins from a float tube. It obviously triggered a predatory response and was probably taken for a fleeing fish.


This lad took the big fly too. He was in a cloud of disturbed mud but gave enough away to allow me to figure out which way he was facing. He chased down the big fly as it was being drawn away from him.