Fly Fishing Basics

Buzzer Fishing


You will find patterns on this site for buzzers and they are for sale everywhere. The buzzer is probably the most popular imitative pattern on still waters in the UK, this is undoubtedly because it is the most prolific of insects in still waters.

The Buzzer is tied as a representation of the Chironomid or the none-biting midge and if you are new to tying this can be a great starter pattern to get your first fish on your own fly.

The adult resembles a mosquito but doesn’t have the necessary mouth parts to bite. They are so prolific you will see them hatch from a muddy puddle or the pond in your garden right up to the largest reservoir.

The stages of development that mainly interests the angler are those before the insect takes flight, that is;

The reason these interest the angler is that these are the stages when the insect is at risk of being eaten by a trout.

Buzzer fishing is probably my first choice on any still water as it is both relaxing and captivating at the same time as the indication of a bite can be anything from a twich on your line to an arm wrenching yank on your rod.

The first stage of life, or bloodworm, is probably of more interest during the winter months for Rainbow trout as they feed at depth among the silt, which is the home of the bloodworm. Therefore a bloodworm pattern would be fished at or close to the maximum depth of the fishery and usually very slowly.


The next stage is as the pupa ascends to the surface and is easy prey to the trout at any depth

.Fishing the buzzer is mainly about finding the depth that the trout are feeding on the natural.My preferred method is to fish a team of three with the heaviest or largest buzzer on the point with two more on droppers spaced 5-6 feet apart. If there is enough breeze I will allow the patterns to drift so the line curves in the breeze and retrieving so slowly that I am just maintaining contact with the flies.

If it is to calm to create the bow in the line I will retrieve with a slow figure of eight and the occasional long pull and pause to make sure that the flies are presented at varying depths. 

The team of three in itself ensures that the fish are presented with a fly at different depths.

Another of my favourite methods with a team of buzzers is to replace the point fly with a buoyant pattern, usually a hopper as this is as good a representative of the adult as I have found. This is usually referred to as a washing line and is left to drift or very slowly retrieved when the fish can be seen near the top of the water and usually with their backs showing now and then as they roll over the top of a rising buzzer.

Yet another popular method, and I am assured it is great fun, is to use an indicator or bung to control the depth of a single fly and indicate when a fish has taken. Anyone who has used a float in coarse fishing will understand this method as moving the float/indicator up and down the line searches for the depth at which the fish are feeding. I have witnessed this method catching many more fish than the others I have described but is often frowned upon as not “proper” fly fishing. The more accepted method of fishing a single buzzer is to count down then maintain a slow figure of eight retrieve to maintain the depth of the fly, again trial and error will find the fish but it is maintained that this method requires the greater skill over that of the bung and is more accepted among traditional circles.

The hatching buzzer can offer some amazing sport, my preference when fishing this stage is to fish a single fly on a leader of approximately the length of my rod. There are many emerger patterns but my preferences are for deer hair or cdc patterns such as the biot emerger and the shuttlecock or perhaps a shipmans buzzer.
The leader needs degreasing with one of the many available products or one made from fullers earth, if all else fails use the mud from the margins of the lake, rubbing this along the leader ensures that it is not sitting visible on the surface and reduces flash.

You will see the fly taken by the fish and you lift into it. There are many aids to timing, such as, saying “God save the queen” before you strike but I have to admit to having no faith in these and prefer to trust in trial and error to find the best pause before lifting in. Generally it pays not to strke immediately the fish takes the fly.

The next stage that the trout will take is as the adult returns to the water to lay eggs. My belief is that this generally happens when the hatch is happening as well so the same dry patterns can be used. I would suggest a hopper such as the claret hopper or an F-fly, F-Hog or perhaps a black gnat.
Preparation is the same as for the emerger and technique the same.

Hopefully this gives you a bit of an insight into why so many fly fisherman you meet are so enthusiastic about buzzer fishing and hopefully you will give it a go, or if you already fish the buzzer I hope this article had something of interest to add something to your days fishing.

Tight Lines

Ian Akers (Naisreka)

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