Apologies, I have been very slack when it comes to posting of late. Fishing has been out of the question for me and my fly tying has taken up a large chunk of what little remains of my free time. There has been a near constant drain on me by the book publishers as we go through the process of turning my scribbles into something comprehensible. I had stupidly thought writing a book would be the hard part but in practice that was just the beginning of a long and complex journey. We are nearing the end though and what with the new season opening soon on my favourite waters things are looking up. Anyway, I squeezed in time to put together this post on a fly I am willing to bet you do not have in your boxes.
A once popular wet fly, the old Hardys Favourite has largely fallen out of favour these days. That’s a shame as it is a nice fly to tie and it fishes well on Irish loughs. Of course I have my own take on the pattern, so here is how I tie and fish the Hardys. While I do occasionally use the standard wet fly dressing I much prefer a dry version which I tie up for mayfly time. That grand old campaigner, the Royal Wulff is a hugely popular dry fly here, despite looking nothing like a mayfly and I figured a dry Hardys could be equally successful. Of course I had to make a few changes to turn wet fly into a floater but the DNA of the original is easy to see. I might be wrong, but I seem to recall seeing this pattern in a very old Hardy’s catalogue from the 1950’s.
Hook: a size 10 or 12 dry fly hook if you are not expecting big fish, but generally I prefer the Kamasan B170 for Irish loughs
Tying silk: black, 8/0
Tails: GP tippets, tied quite long
Rib: red floss silk (Globrite no. 4 is also good)
Body: 2 strands of bronze peacock herl
Wings: hair from a fox squirrel tail tied upright and split
Hackles: a coachman brown cock hackle wound both in front and behind the wings with a grey partridge hackle wound in front
I am sure you can see that there is a bit of resemblance between this fly and the Wulff and both are great choices when a dry fly is called for on the big loughs. For me these are flies for when there is a wave but I know other anglers catch trout on them in calm conditions (probably more accomplished casters than I am).
The choice of winging material was a bit of a process. The wings on the original wet fly were made from brown turkey. While this makes for a delightful wet fly I thought the turkey looked a bit stiff and lifeless so I looked around for a substitute. At first I thought plain brown squirrel hair would suffice but it didn’t look right to me so I went for the barred brown of a fox squirrel tail instead. It’s a material I rarely use these days for some reason which is hard to put my finger on. I was a big fan of it years ago when I tied a lot of salmon flies and fox squirrel made a damn good sub for bronze mallard. If you don’t have any of this hair I would urge you to buy a tail or two, it’s nice to work with and has a lovely mottled appearance. If you are feeling flush then splash out on a fox squirrel skin and you will have enough dubbing to last a lifetime as well.
The rib on a Hardy’s is unusual, floss silk is usually associated with solid bodies and not ribs but the original Hardy’s sported a red floss rib. Claret floss was often used instead of red, leading to an all together more subtle look to the wet fly. I wanted to go the other way with my dry fly so either chinese red floss or Globrite no.4 makes for a brighter fly. Whatever colour of floss you use it has to be given a twist before winding the rib. This will prevent the fibres of the silk splaying out in use.
Use a good bunch of tippets for the tail so there is plenty of support to keep the fly cocked up nicely. If you want to make this pattern even more Wulff-like then use fox squirrel tail hair for the tail too. I give the hackle plenty of turns too for the same reason.
I fish this dry fly either on its own or on the tail of a two fly cast with something like a Mosely May on the dropper. The MM is a wonderful fly but it is the very devil to see in anything of a wave, so my high-riding Hardy Favourite makes at least one fly easy to spot. I then strike at anything that rises close to the Hardy.
One thought on “Hardys Favourite, with a twist”
Very interesting! I have tied the wet fly several times but never the dry.