TADPOLE CONUNDRUM — Further thoughts on froggy creations
By Ed Herbst
IF you Google “Dr Bell’s Blagdon Buzzer” you’ll get an insight into how British flyfishers came to realise that chironomid pupae were the staple diet of trout in their lochs and in the huge dams such as Blagdon which were constructed after World war II. But what equivalent aquatic organism plays the same role here? At the moment nobody is doing more intensive research on this question than Alan Hobson. That research is conducted on Mountain Dam above Somerset East, the town where he and his wife and fellow flyfisher, Annabelle, run the Angler & Antelope guest house.

You can read their story on Tom Sutcliffe’s website, but suffice it to say that, as part of the rebuilding of the former Catholic church to establish their B&B, Alan built a pond in the garden as an aquatic organism research tank.

“Platanna tadpoles are emphatically the staple diet of dam trout in this country,” Alan declared. “They breed after rainfall which means that, throughout much of the year, there is a fresh injection of trout food. They feed in the shallows or form ‘baitballs’ close to the surface over deeper water where they are attacked by trout.”

The result of Alan’s extensive research on this tadpole is the HOT (Hobson’s Original Tadpole) fly and you can read the full account on . His flies are for sale and the HOT Fly — which could also be seen by fish as a minnow — has been successful all over the world.

The first recorded attempt to imitate the platanna tadpole was the Steele’s Taddy. I wrote about this design in the chapter “Flies that changed our thinking” in the recently published book South African Fishing Flies on our indigenous fly patterns which was co-authored by Peter Brigg and I.

The Steele’s Taddy used black-dyed squirrel tail hair and the bullet-head tying style originated by Keith Fulsher.

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