Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Sooty Green Peter

I doubt if there is an Irish wet fly that has spawned more variations than the Green Peter. To be told by an angler he or she has caught a fish on a Green peter really tells you very little as there are so many different dressings. I have to hold my hand up at this point as I am a serial offender when it comes to dodgy peter patterns. My fly boxes are overflowing with all sorts of different takes on the classic original.

The fly I am about to describe has seen a lot of action over the years and is one I fall back on during the early months of the season when the fishing can be tough. The trout seem to take this fly with great confidence though. Early on in the season I usually fish with a sinking line and this is a great fly for any position on a cast at that time.

Looking down to the Massbrook shore with a nice wave. Lough Conn

Use black tying silk and start at the eye then run down a few millimetres, leaving room to tie in wings and head hackle later. Now catch in a red game cock hackle. Run the silk down the shank, tying in a length of fine oval gold tinsel as you do. At the bend dub a small pinch of black seals fur on to the silk and wind a short butt. Now dub some dark green seals fur on the silk and wind a body. Palmer the cock hackle down the body and tie it in with the gold tinsel which you rib through the hackle and tie in at the neck. Remove the waste end of the hackle and the oval tinsel.

I make the wing from a bunch of brown squirrel tail fibres. Tie the hair in on top of the hook and trim off the waste ends. A long fibred black hen hackle is tied in next and given at least 5 turns. I prefer a natural hackle for this fly but a dyed one will do. Form a neat head, whip finish and varnish to complete the fly.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing, wetfly

Yellow Green Peter

I have written about this pattern before but since it has been working well on Lough Mask this year I thought I would give it another mention.

Looking towards Mamtrasna

looking out over the deep water on Lough Mask

An easy fly to tie, most experienced Irish tyers will have the materials in their collection of fur and feathers. No special techniques are required either, the only thing to watch out for is leaving sufficient space at the head for the wings, legs and had hackle. Now, let’s press on with the details.

Hook sizes I would recommend are 10’s and 12’s but if you take a notion to make some on bigger or smaller sizes they might do the job too. For tying silk I have often use brown in size 8/0 but this is a pattern which may benefit from using that lovely Fire Orange silk instead. I will leave this detail up to you.

Starting the silk at the eye and run it down to the point where the body will start, say about a third of the way down the hook shank. Here you catch in a prepared red game cock hackle, dull side facing upwards.

The body hackle has been tied in, now keep running the silk towards the bend and catch in the rib

Keep winding the silk down the hook shank, catching in a length of fine oval gold tinsel on the way. Stop the silk opposite the barb of the hook (if it has one!) and dub on some light claret fur, sufficient to form a tag of perhaps 3 turns. Once that is wound on dub the tying silk with the fur which will make up the body of the fly. This is pea green seal’s fur with a small pinch flash dubbing mixed through.

light claret for the tag

Don’t over do the flash

tie down the body hackle with the rib

I make the wings from paired slips of hen pheasant secondary wing feathers which I have dyed yellow. Keep these low down over the back of the fly. I have used slips from the tail feather of the same bird (also dyed yellow) when I could not lay my hands on the secondaries.

A bag of Hen Pheasant dyed yellow

Next I add some legs on each side of the fly. These are made out of knotted cock pheasant tail fibres and they extend to about half the length of the fly past the bend.

The tricky part – getting the wings just right!

legs next

Finally, tie in a wind the head hackle. Use a grizzle cock hackle dyed yellow. I have a favourite cape for this, an old Indian cock cape of poor quality. It is soft and the dark bars are indistinct, making it pretty much useless for dry flies. I dyed it a dull yellow by adding the merest touch of golden olive to the yellow dye to the bath. I don’t want a vibrant, buttercup yellow for this pattern, the shade is muted and the markings faint. This is very much a case where those of you who dye their own feathers will be at an advantage. Those who don’t will need to rummage about in those bins of ‘seconds’ at fly tying fairs!

soft golden yellow grizzle hackles

A neat head followed by a whip finish is all that is now required before you snip off the waste end of the tying silk.

This is a fly which works well over the deeps on Lough Mask. I confess that I am not a big fan of this way of trout fishing but it is effective and anglers who persevere bring in good bags of fish some days. It seems the brown trout shoal in deep water, feasting on daphnia. Sinking lines are used to get to the right depth (the clouds of daphnia rise or fall depending on light levels) and the anglers who work on finding the right depth as well as the right patterns will be more successful.

The Yellow Green Peter works on any position on the leader and is a reliable performer from June onwards until the end of the season in September. I have used it to fool trout on Lough Conn too and I suspect it could deliver the goods on Scottish lochs.

Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, salmon fishing, wetfly

One for Lough Beltra

I have been thinking about variations for the basic Green Peter for some time and finally made up this one today. It’s a mash up of a normal Peter and hair winged Doctor. This gives the pattern a bit more colour and also adds to the movement. Does it work? I have no idea yet but it will get a swim early enough on Lough Beltra and even on Carrowmore Lake.


The Green Peter variant

I started with a small tag made of glo-brite no. 4 floss, followed by a green fur body ribbed with oval gold tinsel. The body hackle is a nice stiff red game cock hackle.


Plenty of movement from the hackle and wing

I made the wing from stacked dyed bucktail hair. Red on the bottom, then yellow and finally some blue on top.

I finished the fly off with lots of turns of another red game cock hackle, this one longer in fibre than the body hackle. A neat head is formed with tying silk and the waste removed before varnishing the turns. There you have it!


The finished fly