Hermann Fischer: Kamloops’s Creative Craftsman
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After years of careful observation, this talented tier has developed a series of trout patterns that should be in the fly boxes of every serious lake fisherman.

hermann 

British Columbia’s Kamloops Lakes have provided inspiration for some of our craft’s most inventive fly tiers, such as the legendary Jack Shaw. Kamloops resident Hermann Fischer continues this tradition with his realistic and beautifully crafted patterns that imitate the region’s abundant aquatic insect life. Art Lingren featured 14 of Fischer’s flies in his recent book, Contemporary Fly Patterns of British Columbia, and in 2003, the B.C. Federation of Flyfishers paid tribute to Fischer by presenting him with the Jack Shaw Fly Tying Award.

“He’s a real craftsman,” says his fishing buddy Gary Cutler. “Everything he does, from his flies to the many flytying tools he makes out of brass, are perfect. Hermann’s chironomids are my first choice of flies: they seem more alive than the real things.”

When Fischer moved from Germany to Kamloops in 1969, he quickly discovered that his new home was rainbowtrout heaven. “There’s nothing better in the world,” Hermann says. “There are so many lakes within an hour’s drive of Kamloops, you couldn’t fish them all in a lifetime. It’s not unusual to catch ten to twenty fish a day in the two- to fivepound range.”

Fischer says that the lakes of British Columbia’s southern interior provide good fishing from spring to late fall. Those in the bottom of the valleys warm up first, and as the seasons progress, anglers continue to find productive lakes by moving to higher elevations. Although the lakes in the bottom of the valleys are busy after ice-out in May, there are so many mountain lakes that once they shed their ice, anglers rarely find crowded conditions.

“The larger lakes can produce good fishing, but I prefer the smaller ones because you can learn them easier,” Fischer says. “I’d rather fish four or five lakes in a season and get to know them well. The more experience you have, the more you know where you can find the trout and what they’re feeding on.”

It was this desire for knowledge that led Fischer to experiment with his fly patterns. There are basically eight trout foods in Kamloops lakes: chironomids (midges), mayflies, sedges (caddisflies), damselflies, dragonflies, freshwater shrimps (scuds), water boatmen, and leeches. Shrimps, chironomids, and leeches are available all year; may-flies, sedges, damselflies, and dragonflies are important during their summer emergences. Waterboatmen beetles become an important food source during their egg-laying flights in September and October. Once he began learning to tie flies, Hermann realized that he needed to learn more about the lakes he was fishing and what the trout were eating.

“I wanted my flies to look more like the real things. I had a fish tank, so I got bugs out of the lake to study their proportions and to see how they swim.”

Building a Better Fly
Fischer began experimenting with Larva Lace in an effort to make his imitations look more realistic. Larva Lace is a hollow plastic tubing developed by Mike Tucker of Colorado. (Similar materials go by the trade names Liquid Lace and Stretch Tubing.—editor) The material comes in clear and several translucent colors. Tucker originally filled the tubing with vegetable oil to give his flies a natural sheen, but Fischer found it was easier to fill the Larva Lace with mineral oil from a hypodermic needle. To tie a fly, he recommends filling the tubing with oil, lashing it off with white thread, and then wrapping tinsel on the hook shank to create an underbody. He then wraps the tubing up the hook, and colors the body with permanent markers to achieve a variety of effects. The result is a segmented, transparent body that gives the fly a lifelike glow. He also advises using water-based head cement because regular head cement will dissolve the tubing.

“When you wrap Larva Lace on the hook, the segments are very small at first. You can ease up on the tension as you wrap to make a nice, tapered body,” Fischer said. “The lace imitates the outside shell of the translucent body, but it also imitates the gases inside a chironomid pupa.”

Like most Kamloops anglers, Fischer fishes chironomids 90 percent of the time. The Ultimate Chironomid is his favorite fly. “My forty years of records show that the Ultimate, tied with maroon Liquid Lace, never lets me down. I fish the Ultimate Chironomid from ice-out to freeze-up, and I haven’t found any difference fishing different sizes or different colors,” he said. “I can do everything with one pattern, fishing at any depth by using different fly lines.”

From watching the insects in his aquarium, Hermann has become convinced that it is critical to make his flies look as natural as possible and to present them in a lifelike manner.

“In clear water, presentation is especially important. I like to mimic the movement of the naturals—the combination of the way the fly hangs and moves. That’s one reason the knot you use to tie the fly to the tippet is so important. I tie my flies to the leader with a loop knot so they hang vertically all the time.”

And you need to know how the naturals move, he said. You imitate this movement by using a slow, intermittent retrieve.

“I give other anglers my flies, but most guys don’t pick up on how to fish them. They retrieve them too fast, especially the chironomids.”

Fischer says a successful Kamloops fisherman also knows the timing of the hatches on the different lakes and where to find them.

“The timing of the hatches is more important than using the best equipment. I keep notes to see what insect hatches occur on different lakes and when; it’s almost like clockwork from year to year.” He advises looking for weedy areas, especially in shallow water, because this is where most trout food is found; sooner or later, the trout will show up.

“Shrimp will usually be in the shallow, weedy areas. You’ll also find the damselflies in these areas as they swim toward the bulrushes where they will climb up to emerge. The dragonflies that are ready to hatch will be on bottom along the drop-off zones. But, when the water warms up during the summer, you’ll have to fish deeper waters.”

Fischer’s favorite technique is to fish a chironomid on a long leader under a strike indicator. He will use a 12-foot or longer leader attached to a floating line, even in shallower water, and attaches a small swivel that helps sink the fly and improves turn-over. By holding his rod down close to the water, he can feel and react to strikes instantaneously. He fishes a chironomid close to the bottom in the shallows and along drop-offs in the early season, and as deep as 20 to 40 feet during the hot dog days of summer.

Fish damselfly nymphs along shoals and drop-offs, but during midmornings in June and July, mature nymphs swim toward shore just below the surface. When this occurs, Hermann recommends using the Liquid Lace Damsel Nymph with a floating, intermediate, or slow-sinking line in the shallow water close to the reeds. Retrieve the fly with short pulls, and occasionally pause to let it sink.

The Liquid Lace Mayfly Nymph is also a good pattern to fish in the shallows with a floating or intermediate-sinking line when the mayflies—mostly Callibaetis or grey drakes—are hatching. Bird activity will often be the tipoff. Fischer and many other anglers use nymphs more than surface flies during these hatches, but a Tom Thumb or Adams is a good floating pattern.

The interior lakes are home to two major types of dragonflies: the larger dark darners and the flat-bodied Gomphus. Dragonfly nymphs are bottom dwellers, and whether you fish an imitation with a floating line in shallow water or with a sinking line over dropoffs, your fly should crawl along the bottom in short, slow spurts.

More Expert Fishing Tips
Even though Fischer favors using a chironomid imitation, he admits to enjoying fishing water boatmen beetles and caddisflies on the surface. On clear, warm days in the fall, thousands of water boatmen beetles plunge headlong into the lakes in the southern interior, creating the illusion of rainfall. They dive to the bottom to lay their eggs on the weeds, and surface to replenish their air supply and repeat the cycle. The trick to fishing Hermann’s Floating Boatman is to use a medium to fast-sinking fly line and a leader that is longer than the depth of the water. The pattern floats on the surface, and when you retrieve the fly in short jerks, it dives toward the bottom like the natural. Sometimes the fish key on the beetles spinning on the surface and you can fish the Floating Boatman with a floating line in shallow water.

With respect to matching caddisflies, Fischer developed a traveling sedge pattern that you will want to have in your fly box when visiting the Kamloops. The traveler sedge is a big insect that runs along the surface of the lake as it heads to shore, much to the delight of the large trout that pounce on it.

“You cannot beat fishing an imitation of the traveler sedge in late June when you see the trout taking the naturals,” Fischer said, “That’s one reason I developed the Foam-Winged Sedge; if you cannot see the fly in the evening, you don’t have to worry about it sinking.” Hermann recommends dressing the last 10 to 20 inches of the leader with toothpaste or soap so it will sink. “When you bring the fly in with long pulls, it makes a nice wake because the head of the fly sinks.”

“Hermann is not only an excellent fly tier, he’s also an excellent fly fisherman,” says Gary Cutler. “He spends as much time fishing as anyone I know, and that’s what it takes to be successful on Kamloops lakes.”

Cutler adds that his fishing buddy is also very generous. Hermann not only gives away hundreds of flies every year to other anglers and fishing clubs, but, unlike many fishermen, he will always tell you what flies he is using and how to fish them. Whether you are a regular on Kamloops lakes or a first timer, you could not do better than to take advantage of Hermann Fischer’s beautifully crafted patterns and his fishing techniques.



Andrew Williams is a longtime contributor to our magazine. He lives in British Columbia.

 
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