The Daddy-Longlegs is a pattern usually associated with the autumn; however, in recent years, with its many variations, it has now become the go-to fly on the stillwater scene when the fish are high in the water.
George Barron brings us the Daddy-Hog Muddler, a fly that has accounted for both wild brownies and stocked rainbows.
Hook : Fulling Mill Short Shank, size 10 or 12
Detached body: Tan foam cylinder Veniard, 3.2mm
Body: Fiery brown seal’s fur
Wing: Roe deer hair
Legs: Knotted pheasant tail – three each side
Thorax: Red seal’s fur
Head: Clipped bunch of roe deer hair
All materials are available from Veniard’s stockists.
Step 1. With the hook in the vice, take the tying thread halfway along the shank. Very lightly dub on a small pinch of fiery brown seal’s fur. This creates a bed to tie in the foam cylinder and prevents it slipping and spinning.
Step 2. Dip the cylinder into the flame from a lighter to soften the tip, then roll between fingers to create a slight taper at the end. Tie in on top of the seal’s fur, leaving a good half inch sticking out. Dub on another ‘spit’ of seal’s fur to cover the raw end of the cylinder and the tying thread.
Step 3. Gripping the deer hair very tight, tie it hard up against the base of the cylinder body. Do not move the holding fingers until you feel the tying thread has a decent grab on the deer hair. Carefully snip off excess deer hair and dub another small touch of seal’s fur.
Step 4. Now we can add three knotted pheasant tail legs each side, hanging just below or along the line of the body. I have used natural knotted fibres in this dressing but often ring the changes between dyed red, orange or black legs.
Step 5. Once the legs are trimmed tie in another pinch of roe deer hair. Carefully trim the waste then dub in a bunch of scarlet red seal’s fur at the thorax. Use a Velcro strip to brush up the seal’s fur as it adds more life to the dressing.
Step 6. Spin the final batch of roe deer hair in the conventional way, to create a muddler head just big enough to make a slight disturbance when pulled through the water. Trim head carefully, varnish and allow to dry before trimming deer hair.
If it was solely tied to be representative of a crane fly, this pattern possibly wouldn’t see the light of day on most waters until July or August when the bigger hatches of daddies occur, but this fellow is fairly versatile.
Because of increasing angling demand and the commercial requirement to satisfy the paying punters with, shall we say, healthy bags of fish, most major stillwaters in the UK provide a high density stocking policy to handle these needs. This obviously means easy pickings on the fresh fish and, in consequence, often results in many fish being caught and released. However, more resident trout that rarely respond a second time to the usual procession of Blobs and Boobies can be susceptible to something different and The Daddy-Hog fills that gap.
Because it could be classed as an out-and-out stillwater fly, a good case could be argued for fishing the Hog on the top dropper on a pulled, three-fly cast when fishing loch-style from a drifting boat.
I find it far more effective when used as a point fly and used washing-line style with a couple of nymphs or Diawl Bachs up the cast.
Alternatively, as the season draws on and the trout hold higher in the water, I like to fish two of them in tandem about 10 to 12 feet apart.
On a three-fly cast I see it no more than a disturbance pattern, but when doubled up in tandem it’s a highly effective method. A floater will do the job but I prefer to work with either a midge tip or slow intermediate line when operating like this.
A slight touch of Gink on the point fly lets it fish dry for a short period before you pop it under.
When covering rising fish I give the line one long, sharp draw to straighten the line then slip into a very slow figure of eight retrieve, broken up with the odd pull – takes normally come early on the retrieve.
I watched this method work very effectively on the Lake of Menteith last season and also around the boils on Rutland: a single Daddy-Hog on a 12ft leader thrown into the turmoil put a dozen good trout in the boat very quickly.
What I like about present-day fly tying and new, contemporary creations is the way it’s possible to mix up fur and feather and modern synthetic materials to produce a very different slant on what would be called a traditional fly a generation ago.
As in this instance, by utilising the foam at the rear end rather than at the front end – as per the Booby – we can do away with the old, time-consuming exercise of tying delicate detached-bodies of deer hair on a needle. Whacking on a wee bit of deer hair to form a muddler at the head also makes the fly a bit less lure-ish in make-up.
This one can be fished as a conventional dry fly by simply sinking the small bunches of deer hair tied in ‘half hog’ fashion along the back. Don’t be restricted to the fairly conventional colours I have used here; I tie these for Llyn Brenig using black foam and deer hair with red seal’s fur and knotted red legs at heather fly time. I always have them in a few jazzed-up colours such as orange or peach to cover the percentages if free fish have been stocked.
When preparing the foam cylinders for tying, I first dip the end of the cylinder into the flame of a cigarette lighter. Don’t singe it and change the colour, use just enough heat to soften the material so that it can be rolled between the fingers to create a slightly tapered end.