I spent most of the first half of 2015 eagerly anticipating a weeklong jaunt up into the wilds of Sutherland - call it an early 40th birthday present from an ever generous wife - and the weeks which preceded this adventure were spent accumulating all sorts of camping and fishing related stuff, and tying flies. Lots of flies. After a few seasons of neglecting stillwater trout somewhat, my boxes of suitable patterns had come to look a little neglected - more gap than fly, and an awful lot of that crushed and flattened hackle look which even a blast over the steaming kettle failed to reverse satisfactorily. Besides, I had all sorts of plans for tyings which would drive those
This sort of thing doesn't come easy to me. It requires a wholesale leap of faith from the usual form/profile/attitude paradigm of river fly dressing and a step into the altogether less prescriptive realms of colour blends, transmitted light and mobility. It is a task for a more creative mind than mine, and when I look at the output of exponents such as Rob Denson it leaves me feeling deflated that I will never have the ability to produce work of such a standard. Nevertheless I cracked on and with practice began to turn out flies which I felt were of at least an acceptable standard. I knew at the time that the vast majority would remain more or less unfished; trips like these usually result in a good deal of experimentation, but only handful of favourite patterns - perhaps even a single team - being fished religiously every day after proving successful early on. And so it was: muddled Kate McLaren and Peter Ross variants, Arthur MacDonald's 'Wee Westie'.....and this - a regulation deerhair daddy. Little else was required other than Mayfly patterns when treated to a big mixed hatch of danica and vulgata one day on Loch Awe.
This Daddy was rarely off my cast; either fished singly or as half of a dry fly pair, or at the top of a pulled wet fly team, it drew lively little trout from nearly everywhere we fished. Not that any special powers can be attributed to it of course - any suitable concoction would have found similar favour among the hoards - but of all the patterns I relied upon that week, I enjoyed fishing this one most. I love how specific fishing memories sometimes become tattoed on the mind and come to define one's recollection of the wider experience: midway through one day drifting Fionn Loch we pitched alongside a bed of bankside rushes and enjoyed a few minutes of sport where bronzed trout rose from inches of water to slash at our flies. The day had warmed and the light was good, and the Daddy looked perfect on the water, and with the backdrop of Scotland's oldest, most iconic landscape and Suilven standing guard over it, as it had seven years earlier when I last drifted this shore; at that moment all was particularly well with the world.
3. Deerhair Daddy
Hook: Kamasan B160 #10
Thread: UTC70 olive
Rib: flat gold tinsel
Body: blend of brassy and golden olive seals fur
Legs: dyed picric pheasant tail, twice knotted
Wing: light roe deer, 'smuddled'