The International Dabbler

A very popular fly over here, this variation on the dabbler theme has been working well of late on lough Mask. You can find the pattern easily online but here is my take on the fly. Apologies for the flies in the accompanying photos, they have been well chewed by the trout and I have to go and make some new ones.

Usual hook to use is a heavyweight wetfly such as a Kamasan B175 in size 10. A size 12 might be a better option for lough Conn. Silk colour is important so use a fire orange 8/0.

Start the tying silk near the eye and catch in a long fibred cock hackle dyed a yellowy golden olive. Now catch in a second cock hackle dyed the same colour but shorter in fibre, this will be used to palmer the body later. Be sure to leave plenty of room at the head as there is a bit of tying to do there and you don’t want the head to be too bulky.

Run the silk down to well around the bend where you tie in a length of medium width red holographic tinsel. Take the silk back up to where the tail will be then wind the holo tinsel as a tag, usually about three turns. Trim off the waste end of tinsel. You can lay down a bed of superglue if you like to give the tinsel a bit of strength but to be honest I don’t bother.

With the tag formed you now tie in about 6 fibres of bronze mallard for a tail, the fibres being roughly the same length as the hook shank. Tie in a piece of fine oval gold tinsel then bind this down on to the hook by running the tying silk up to where the hackles are and back down to the tail. Cut off any waste.

The body is made from seal’s fur or substitute dyed sunburst. Sunburst is a funny colour. When dying materials this shade you have to be sure to leave the fur or feathers in the dye bath for long enough, if you take them out too soon all you get is a dull yellow colour. I like to add the merest pinch of red and yellow fur to the body dubbing. Don’t overdo it though. Dub the tying silk with a pinch of fur and wind a body.

Grab the shorter fibred hackle and wind it down the body in open turns then tie the feather in using the oval tinsel which wound through the hackle to near the eye you tie it in with the silk. Remove the waste end of tinsel and body hackle.

Wind a couple of turns of the longer cock hackle and trim off the waste end next.

Take a hank of pearl flash and select three strands. Tie these in on top of the hook then fold the butt ends over and whip these on top, trimming the 6 strands so they reach about half way along the tail. It’s time to form the cloak from bronze mallard in the usual dabbler fashion, securing the fibres firmly around the top three-quarters of the fly.

Take two goose biots which have been dyed sunburst or yellow and tie one on each side of the cloak. White biots work just as well. Cut off the waste ends of the biots and wind a neat head. Use clear varnish on the head once you have whip finished. As you can see this is an easy fly to tie but don’t be tempted to tie in extra flash under the wing, I have seen some tied like this and the additional flash was too much.

For me, the combination of the yellowy-golden olive hackles over the sunburst body is the key feature of this pattern. Hackles which are too olive or fur which is not a vibrant orangey sunburst shade don’t catch as many fish.

You can fish the International on any position on the cast and on any density of line.


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