The silver daddy is an iconic west of Ireland pattern that can be used for salmon, sea trout or brownies. Of course, this being Ireland there are dozens of variations of the fly and it feels like every tyer has his or her twist on the pattern. The basics of a silver tinsel body and some legs made from knotted pheasant herls are pretty much standard but after that – anything goes! Here are a few different tinsel bodied daddies for you to pick from.
Let’s start with the basic pattern as described in Peter O’Reilly’s wonderful book ‘Irish trout and salmon flies’. The tail is the interesting feature here with a bunch of knotted pheasant tail fibres tied in to stick out of the back of the fly. These add lots of movement and can be further improved with just a couple of strands of krinkle flash in pearl or silver. A flat silver tinsel body, ribbed with oval silver, wings of red game hackle tips and plenty of knotted pheasant tail legs tied all around. Finish off with a red game cock hackle giving it plenty of turns. Some tyers prefer to use short fibred hackles on their daddies but I favour longer ones. I think these add movement to the fly in the water and also give an even more ‘leggy’ appearance.
That is a lot of materials to tie on to a smaller hook so a slimmed down version is easier to tie and looks better on hooks of size 12 and smaller. Omit the tail, tie a silver tinsel body and add the legs but tie them in on top of the hook. A few turns of a red game hackle finishes this pattern. If you want, you can add a short tag of red floss at the end of the body.
The red daddy is a popular pattern on some fisheries but I have to confess I have had little success with it. The only time it works for me is when I add a claret muddler head. The sea trout seem to like this one. The body of the red daddy can be made from either normal red mylar or holographic tinsel, the choice is yours.
Let’s talk about the legs for a minute. The normal pheasant tail herl legs for a daddy pattern are a single strand knotted twice. This is perfect for most flies but on very large hooks they can look a bit ‘thin’ so I use two strands, double knotted on size 6 or 8 flies. Just my personal preference.
I tie a black daddy which has done very well, just substitute black materials on the original pattern but keep the silver body and add a head made from dyed black deer hair spun on muddler style.
I like a blue bodied version too, something akin to the one used on lough Inagh. I use blue tying silk for this one.A blue tinsel body is ribbed with fine silver wire. Wings are ginger cock hackle tips and the hackle is a long fibred red game.
Now for a couple of (so far) untried patterns. I made up these patterns during the lockdown but they have yet to see the water. The first tying is a standard daddy but the body is made from green tinsel. Then there is a pink tinsel bodied one. Both of these flies sport small muddler heads. I like the look of both of these and hope to give them a swim before the end of this season.
Another experimental daddy has an opal tinsel body, black legs and hackle with a prominent head of fluorescent fire orange silk.
From now until the end of the season the silver daddy can be a very useful addition to a wet fly cast in these parts. A windy day, when naturals could be blowing on to the water are the best time to try it but to be honest I have caught fish on a silver daddy in most conditions.