Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Keeping it simple

Sometimes I look at the plethora of new fly patterns which appear every year and wonder if we anglers are deluding ourselves. The latest ‘must have’ synthetic materials or the most fashionable hooks adorn the pages or screens of every angling periodical, begging us weaklings to part with hard earned cash so we too can tie up this season’s killer patterns. I’m no expert when it comes to the wider angling world but here in the West of Ireland I find the old reliables just as effective as always.

That old warrior, the Stoat’s tail still catches fish when the water is low and warm, just like it did all those years ago when it was invented. I play around with body materials just for something to do rather than any great conviction one is significantly better than the others. I like a red body on my Stoat’s for no reason other than I like the look of it. A dash of red never does any harm in my book. It looks like the colour of fins on small fish to me. The rest of the dressing remains the same though, there is no need for any flashy new bling.

We are in August now so a daddy is a likely performer. Again, I don’t get too hung up on exact patterns. A natural colour body for the browns or a silver body for the migratory lads, be they trout or salmon. Legs? Yes, and plenty of them. Hackles? long and flowing to give life. After those essentials I’m not overly pushed on the exactitude’s of the remainder of the dressing.

Tying in some legs on a silver daddy

I am more than willing to accept, and indeed revel in the tag ‘old fogie’ as at my time of life change is hard to enjoy. But my bias for the simple has been born out over the years and in all kinds of angling scenarios.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing, trout fishing, wetfly

Super Daddy

We are well into the month November so it is high time to get the fly tying gear out. Let’s start off with by tying a daddy imitation. With so many different ones to pick from there hardly seems to be any requirement for a new pattern but this is one which I made up last year for those wild and windy autumn days on the lough. I call it the Super Daddy.

The idea for this fly came to me after listening to an experienced dapper explain that he used not one but two live daddies on the hook. Even with my legendary tenuous grasp of arithmetic I understood that meant the offering had twice the number of legs. What if an artificial could benefit from an excess of limbs too?


starting the tying silk behind the eye

I use brown tying silk and favour a size 8 or 10 wet fly hook. You can use long shank hooks for this fly but I find them a devil to cast, causing twists in the leader. So instead I opt for a normal shank length hook. Use something with a decent amount of metal in it such as the Kamasan B175.

First, tie in some knotted PT fibres just behind the eye of the hook, pointing forward.


the first bunch of legs are tied in facing forward

Run the tying silk towards the bend and catch in some more knotted pheasant tail fibres for a tail, let’s say 6 or so in total, then a piece of fine gold or copper wire for a rib. If I think there may be salmon around I will swap the gold wire and use either flat silver or Opal Mirage for the rib to give the finished fly a bit more flash.


legs added at the bend

The abdomen of the natural fly is of course heavily segmented but otherwise smooth. Some super lifelike patterns go to extreme lengths to closely match this feature but I wanted something with more ‘life’ to it, a suggestion of struggling on the surface. I opted for a roughly dubbed body made from the body fur of a hare. Save the lovely marbled Hare’s ear fur for some dainty dries or lethal wet spiders, the fur you want is the stuff plucked from the brown sides of the hare’s pelt. Keep a good proportion of the blue under fur mixed in too, it adds to the overall colour scheme and bulks the abdomen up nicely. I personally use a dubbing loop to form the body but simply roughly dubbing the silk does just fine too.


rough body is dubbed on and wound

Time for more legs! Tie in bunches of pre-knotted legs made of Pheasant tail fibres. 10 or 12, pointing roughly backwards, all round the hook, the scruffier the better.


Adding more legs at the shoulder now

Wings of cree hackle tips and as many turns of one or two long fibred dark ginger cock hackles complete the fly.


Pair of Cree cock hackles


Tie the hackle points in so they lie like this


Winding a long fibred cock hackle

Those forward pointing legs can now be re-positioned to poke out sideways by figure-of-eight turns of silk.  Whip finish and varnish the head and you are done.


The finished fly

This is a great fly for attracting attention but a lot of fish will slash at it without making contact. Those that do grab it though are usually well hooked and there is something very satisfying about taking trout and salmon on daddies.


A nice mouthful