The Cormorants Anglers Like
Sometimes there's a fly or a pattern that we can't keep off our cast wherever we go. We trust it, with have faith in it, we just know it will catch no matter where we fish. Over the last three seasons I have found a fly which has served me well on both the small waters I fish and the big midlands reservoirs. The fly crosses the boundary between being a small lure and one which can also display elements of imitating buzzers and other natural food sources. For me the fly has the ability to catch piles of fresh stockies, to fool resident fish that are feeding hard on buzzers and, when times are tough nail fish that have seen it all and shy away from the usual offerings. The Cormorant is the fly I couldn't live without last the season and has accounted for a good numbers of Rainbows over the last few years. It has brought me success on Rutland when resident fish have been feeding hard on buzzers at the top of the South Arm, accounted for some hard fighting Blues at Blithfield when other flies have failed and taken fish pushing double figures from Ellerdine Lakes when fished static. There are so many variations on this fly but for me black is the only colour with the variation being with the materials used in the body and the amount of marabou used in the wing.
A Multi-Use Pattern
For those fresh fish the Cormorants I use tend to be bright and flashy, in essence small lures. The wing will have a good pinch of marabou and the body will be made up of one of the vast array of Straggle Fritz there is out there, with Veniard's Black UV Straggle being one of my favourites. These mini lures I tie on size 10 heavy weight competition hooks. For those buzzer feeding fish I like a varnished quill body, sparse wing and jungle cock cheeks tied on a size 10 and 12 wet fly hook. The sparser and thinner the better. Finally, for those 'seen it all fish' again a fly with a sparse wing with a red holographic body and fine silver wire rib on a size 12 black nickel competition special hook has been my top fly when times are tough.
What I like about the Cormorant is that it really is a multi-use pattern. It catches well if pulled, it fishes well with a slow figure of eight and its deadly when fished static. It's when it's fished static that I have had the most success with this fly. The marabou wing makes the fly sink slowly and enticingly something which the trout find hard to resist. The fly almost parachutes down when left to its own devices.
Small Water Success
On the small waters, I fish three of these flies on a floating line using the finest breaking strain fluorocarbon leaders I can, based on the size of fish stocked. This usually would be Greys GX 5.5lb fluorocarbon however I might drop this down to 4.3lb in clear water fishing two flies. I tend to use my standard 12 to 14ft leader with the flies spaced apart at equal distances. Point and top dropper will be the bigger, flashier Cormorants, in the middle the more imitative one. If the fish pick the imitative pattern out then I will swap to three of these on the cast. The retrieve is a slow figure of eight with plenty of pauses on the way back to fish the flies static. Takes will come on the retrieve, when you pause or right at the end of the retrieve depending on how much pressure the fish have had. Moving the flies will interest recent stock fish, the pause and end of retrieve the better and bigger specimens.
On the big waters I will step my breaking staring up to 8lb mainly because of the power of the fish in these waters and also the possibility of a double hook up. My lines of choice are midge tips and both fast and slow intermediates. Generally I will fish a three fly cast, 15-20ft in length, occasionally four with a booby on the point. Retrieves will vary between different speeds of 'pull' and a steady figure of eight. Again a pause part way back to the boat and the 'hang' at the end of the retrieve can be the key times for a take. The Cormorant on these waters really does have the knack of picking the better fish out for me having caught some smashing resident fish from Rutland and Draycote.
Whilst I have caught fish all year round on Cormorants the key period on small waters is early spring and on the big reservoirs late spring and early summer. So if I had to survive a season on one fly then it would have to be the Cormorant.