Q: What is the best retrieve method for Buzzers when fishing on a Stillwater?
PAUL PROCTER REPLIES: As you’re probably aware, chironomid pupae (buzzers) have very Little means of propelling themselves. Although frantically wriggling they rarely have any great sense of direction, except upwards when they are ascending to emerge.
Even then pupa are at the mercy of currents created by wind and will by pushed in the direction of any breeze, especially when nearing the surface.
Taking this into account, often the best retrieve when buzzer fishing is actually no retrieve at all. That said, in flat calm conditions a fly-line tends to lay in a series of faint ‘S’ wiggles, denying you any direct contact with Leader and flies. In such circumstances, detecting the subtle take of a nymphing trout is nigh on impossible, that is, unless you use some form of strike indicator.
Obviously, a degree of tension is realised by keeping your Line moving. Now, an extremely slow, yet steady figure-of-eight ensures your Line remains constantly taut so trout mouthing any flies will register as a slight heaviness, or the line falling slack in the case of a fish swimming towards you after taking a fly.
Where a breeze ruffles the surface, you should ideally Look for a crosswind. The wave action now pushes your floating Line downwind which sets up a bowing line that automatically creates tension (diagram 1).
ALL you need to do is literally keep in touch with your terminal by gathering in line to the tempo of those drifting flies which invariably means inching them back.
The same scenario occurs from the windward (exposed) shoreline when casts are angled slightly across the wind rather than directly into it (diagram 2).
While flies trundled along at a snail’s pace are considered the norm when Buzzer fishing, occasionally it doesn’t hurt to give a Long, slow draw on the Line. This quickly Lifts your flies, often encouraging an undecided trout into snapping at them – an induced take if you like. Though take care not to make this a frequent habit that in some instances can see fish baulk at, rather than inhale, your flies.
Overall then, aim for a slow, constant figure-of-eight retrieve so your fingers are just ticking over. If your digits are all a blur then it could be that you’re retrieving too quickly.