Rainbow trout were exotic arrivals to the fishing scene around Aberdeen when I was but a lad. The ADAA stocked some in the Loch of Loriston just to the south of the city and I cut my teeth on rainbow fishing there. My boxes of dry Greenwells and other size 16 flies failed miserably to make any impression on the pink flanked trout and even I could see that a new approach was going to be required. Bob Church became my hero with his conveyor belt of new patterns and his rock solid conviction that lures were the best way to fool ‘bows. Soon I had a box bulging with flashy, chenille-bodied creations. Most of these have long faded into oblivion but a few still linger around. One of them is the whisky fly.
I still use heavily bastardised versions for both rainbows and browns. I can’t say this one is a regular addition to the leader but every now and then I find myself trying one, usually on a hot and hopeless day when nothing else is working. Would a similar sized Dunkeld work just as well? Probably, it would but there is something enjoyable about catching fish on different flies. I have said before that I could be confident of catching pretty much the same number of fish each season with just three flies but for me that sort of takes away a lot of the enjoyment. I like swapping flies and trying out new ones. So the old Whisky Fly keeps it’s place in my fly box and is given a swim on the odd occasion.
I forget the exact details of the original dressing, it is irrelevant to me as I tie up something which is only a vague assimilation of Bob’s creation. I seem to recall his lure was based on an American pattern of the same name, but that could just be my imagination. Whereas the old fly was dressed on a whopping great size 6 long shanked hook I much prefer a normal shank size 10 or 12. During the intervening years I have read of many different variations of the bright orange fly, each claiming to be deadly so it is a reasonable assumption that any bright orange fly will do the same damage. I just like my own one and stick to it. I need to use up all that dyed orange calf hair, don’t I!!!!
My choice of tying silk is unusual as I use Glo Brite no. 5 floss. I start the floss at the eye of the hook and run it down toward the bend, catching in a length of flat tinsel as I go. While this tinsel is usually silver I have been known to use pearl or opal too. Wind a prominent tag with the floss then wind the flat tinsel up the shank in touching turns. Hold the end of the flat tinsel in a pair of hackle pliers and rib the body using the floss on open turns, then tie off the tinsel at the neck. Remove the waste end of the tinsel.
I make the wing from a bunch of calf tail hair dyed hot orange and once that is in place on top of the hook I tie in a wind a cock hackle dyed fl. orange. All there is to do now is wind a head and whip finish. Pretty simple and yet it is a very handy pattern to have in the box. A muddled version, tied with either natural deer hair or deer belly hair dyed hot orange gives you another option.
You can of course make the fly using normal tying silk, it works either way. I keep the calf hair wing very slim as the individual fibres are stiff and bulky. I make the wing slightly on the long side and like to use hair from the tip of the tail where is is slightly curly.
While I found this fly while looking for a good rainbow lure all those years ago I have to say it seems to be equally effective for their brown cousins. Maybe it the shock factor but whatever it is the trout do like this gaudy offering. One tactic which has worked for me is to tie the whisky fly on the dropper and about 12 feet behind it tie on something small and suggestive. Thrown at rising trout which won’t look at anything else, this has saved the blank for me a on a couple of occasions. The fish hit the tail fly but I am convinced the bright orange whisky fly ‘turned their head’.
While writing this post I checked out the website for the Aberdeen and District Angling Association and it appears they are still stocking the lough of Loriston with rainbows. Who knows, I may buy a permit and have a few casts one day when I am back visiting my old hometown.