Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, wetfly

Silver daddies

The silver daddy is an iconic west of Ireland pattern that can be used for salmon, sea trout or brownies. Of course, this being Ireland there are dozens of variations of the fly and it feels like every tyer has his or her twist on the pattern. The basics of a silver tinsel body and some legs made from knotted pheasant herls are pretty much standard but after that – anything goes! Here are a few different tinsel bodied daddies for you to pick from.

Let’s start with the basic pattern as described in Peter O’Reilly’s wonderful book ‘Irish trout and salmon flies’. The tail is the interesting feature here with a bunch of knotted pheasant tail fibres tied in to stick out of the back of the fly. These add lots of movement and can be further improved with just a couple of strands of krinkle flash in pearl or silver. A flat silver tinsel body, ribbed with oval silver, wings of red game hackle tips and plenty of knotted pheasant tail legs tied all around. Finish off with a red game cock hackle giving it plenty of turns. Some tyers prefer to use short fibred hackles on their daddies but I favour longer ones. I think these add movement to the fly in the water and also give an even more ‘leggy’ appearance.

The normal tying (the wings have been chewed off this example)

That is a lot of materials to tie on to a smaller hook so a slimmed down version is easier to tie and looks better on hooks of size 12 and smaller. Omit the tail, tie a silver tinsel body and add the legs but tie them in on top of the hook. A few turns of a red game hackle finishes this pattern. If you want, you can add a short tag of red floss at the end of the body.

The red daddy is a popular pattern on some fisheries but I have to confess I have had little success with it. The only time it works for me is when I add a claret muddler head. The sea trout seem to like this one. The body of the red daddy can be made from either normal red mylar or holographic tinsel, the choice is yours.

Let’s talk about the legs for a minute. The normal pheasant tail herl legs for a daddy pattern are a single strand knotted twice. This is perfect for most flies but on very large hooks they can look a bit ‘thin’ so I use two strands, double knotted on size 6 or 8 flies. Just my personal preference.

I tie a black daddy which has done very well, just substitute black materials on the original pattern but keep the silver body and add a head made from dyed black deer hair spun on muddler style.

I like a blue bodied version too, something akin to the one used on lough Inagh. I use blue tying silk for this one.A blue tinsel body is ribbed with fine silver wire. Wings are ginger cock hackle tips and the hackle is a long fibred red game.

My blue Daddy

Now for a couple of (so far) untried patterns. I made up these patterns during the lockdown but they have yet to see the water. The first tying is a standard daddy but the body is made from green tinsel. Then there is a pink tinsel bodied one. Both of these flies sport small muddler heads. I like the look of both of these and hope to give them a swim before the end of this season.

Green bodied daddy
The pink bodied one

Another experimental daddy has an opal tinsel body, black legs and hackle with a prominent head of fluorescent fire orange silk.

Untried but it looks OK

From now until the end of the season the silver daddy can be a very useful addition to a wet fly cast in these parts. A windy day, when naturals could be blowing on to the water are the best time to try it but to be honest I have caught fish on a silver daddy in most conditions.

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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.

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