The Bloody Mary is an oldie but a goodie. I have used this very useful pattern since I was a child and have always found this dressing to be an excellent trout fly. I still use it regularly today and find it out-fishes many of my modern fly patterns. I still like using old flies from time to time as I think it keeps us in touch with our rich fly fishing history. I love that so many old fly patterns have their own stories that I think us, as modern fly anglers, should keep alive. Not forgetting that many of the old patterns are great takers of fish - like this one.
I initially saw this dressing probably in the late 1970s as it was in a small book that my father owned called “Fifty Popular Flies” by Tom Stewart, first published in the 1960s. It was a useful little book that had some old dressings of Trout, Seatrout and Salmon flies and I used to try and copy these flies on a fly tying vice that my late father George had made in Belfast’s shipyard 'Harland & Wolff'. My dad was a fitter by trade and made many things in the shipyard including, fly reels, fly tying tools, vices and priests - My father was great with his hands although often too quick with them!
Anyway, Mr Stewart tells us in his book that this pattern has proved a worthwhile fly and can be thoroughly recommended as a stand by for lake and river brown trout and also sea trout. It was introduced to him by an amateur fly dresser from the west of Scotland, who in turn learnt it from an elderly angler while fishing a lough in Perthshire, so we don’t really know how old this fly is. I myself have used this pattern many times in the past and found it great on our Irish loughs.
This fly reminds me of the traditional Irish lough fly the Cock Robin and like the Robin it works well on Sheelin, Corrib, Erne and Melvin. In 2012 it took me to my first wild trout of season on Lough Sheelin while I was fishing with regular Sheelin angler and a good friend of mine, Gerry Teggart. It was a cold March and we where fishing not far from Chambers Bay where Gerry had launched his boat, we were drifting passed Crane Island when we noticed a few fish taking small buzzers, as we passed over a steep drop this lovely spotted trout came from the depths and took the Bloody Mary which I had attached to the middle dropper. After an excellent fight I had my prize and this old fly had once again worked its magic.
I like this fly early and late season and use it often fished on the point or middle dropper with a floating or intermediate line. Also, don’t forget this fly is an attractor pattern for river trout and I remember my father using it often on rivers for dollaghan and Seatrout, so good for migratory fish too.
Bloody Mary (Wet Fly)
Hook: Partridge #8-14 Wet Heavy Supreme (I have used a #12 - nice all-rounder)
Tail: Blood red hackle fibres
Rib: Fine Gold Oval tinsel
Body: Back half orange seal’s fur or sub, front half, peacock herl
Hackle: Dark claret or black (I have used Black)
Step 1: Place the hook in the vice and make turns of thread along the hook shank.
Step 2: Tie in a small bunch of red hackle fibres and trim the waste then return to the bend of the hook.
Step 3: Tie in the fine oval gold rib.
Step 4: Add the dubbing - wind on in touching turns to form the back half of the body.
Step 5: Tie in a small bunch of peacock herl to form the front half of the body. Stop a few millimetres behind the eye of the hook.
Prepare one hackle by stripping away the fluffy fibers, place one on top of the hook and tie in with two or three turns of thread and trim the waste.
Step 6: Wind the hackle (you may need to use hackle pliers) you should aim for around 2 or 3 turns then wind tying thread through the hackles to secure them and trim the waste.
Step 7: Stroke back the hackle half hitch and whip finish.
Step 8: Varnish, you wouldn`t want all that good work to fall apart!
Stevie Munn works full time in the angling sector as a guide, casting demonstrator, writer and qualified game angling instructor and angling consultant, he has appeared in many angling books, DVDs and angling shows all over the world. He has also fished many places in the world and grew up fishing on rivers and Loughs of Ireland where he often guides. He runs teaching lessons in fly fishing and host groups fishing in Canada, Iceland, Argentina, Ireland, and other parts of the world. You can contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org or get more info at www.anglingclassics.co.uk