Often in September large hatches of damp wood termites occur anywhere there is lots of downed trees and stumps. Vancouver Island rivers, lakes and beaches as well as most other areas in the pacific northwest definitely meet these criteria, and yet termites are often ignored by fly fishers. They are usually written off as another minor terrestrial in the long list of random trout foods. The adult phase termites are large (up to around 2.5 cm/1″) with large long wings, reddish brown, fly around erratically, and often helplessly get stuck in the surface film of the water (and your hair and clothes). Ken Thorne’s Red termite is a good all round impressionistic surface pattern for imitating the adult damp wood termite in river, lake, or beach for various types of trout, as well as a good fall dry pattern for summer steelhead. This fall make sure you have a few termite patterns in your box should you come across a hatch, as I did last week on a sea run estuary trip, with nothing even remotely close in my box.
Hook: size 8-10 Mustad 9671 or 9672 (a 2xH/3xL streamer hook) or similar should be fine for all but exceptionally large fish, you know the 15-20 lb summers you dream about. If using in the salt a saltwater hook like a mustad 34011 size 8-10 is recommended but not required, just rinse well
Thread: black or brown 6/0 (I use rusty brown)
Shellback/Tail: white (or reddish brown) 3 mm closed cell foam, coloured reddish brown with permanent marker
Body: layer of thread, wrapped sparingly with dry hackle
Wings: 6-8 strands of black crystal flash, with 1 or 2 strands of pearl krystal flash per side, tied back along the sides from the head
Hackle: medium length ginger dry fly hackle, spin at the front and back tie in points
This simple impressionistic pattern is best dead drifted and twitched but can also be skated or stripped, just adjust the amount of foam to the type of water you will be fishing, eg. more foam for skating or fishing faster moving water like riffles. Whether you give this Vancouver island pattern a try or create your own, don’t be caught without a couple termite patterns this fall.