The pattern I would like to share with you this month is a variant of that old classic salmon fly The Silver Doctor.
In the last few years, this famous pattern has had a revival in Ireland as it has out fished many of the new flies, in fact it is so successful it is a fly I rarely have off of my cast whilst fishing for Salmon, or in my part of the world fishing for Dollaghan trout, which are a lough run brown from the massive Lough Neagh. These great fish can grow huge for a trout, last year my biggest was a fish of 14lb and I know fish landed in a local river of 18lb and a few years ago my good mate Bobby Byrans had a colossal fish of 20lb. The norm is around 3 to 8lb and these are common most years, great wild trout in anyone’s book, and I must admit I have a love affair for this trout which I have been fishing for since I was a boy.
We fish for these impressive trout in Northern Ireland, much like you would for Seatrout in a river anywhere else in the World, and the Silver Doctor has accounted for many of them, but also it is a great taker of salmon which was the original patterns objective.
The Silver Doctor hair wing first came to my attention late in my angling life while I was working at a game fair in England many years ago, I would have been in my late 20s. I had seen some on a trade stand sitting among a miss match of bargain flies in a large wooded display case, the dealer was selling off a lot of his flies cheap and I must admit they had caught my eye. I had of course seen the dressing in many old books when I was starting to fly fish, that my late father George had owned, but I had never dressed one to fish and strangely enough I don’t recall my father fishing with them either. The flies at the game fair, I must admit, were not the best quality but they were ok and I thought they might work, as I had dressed a few flies with silver bodies that worked back then on my local rivers. My problem was this was a Sunday and I was going back home on the Monday and had just received a phone call from a friend asking me could I dress him a few flies for Salmon and Dollaghan, because our local river had just had a nice wee flood that should bring in some fresh fish and if it did not get any more rain it should be perfect for the fly by Monday evening and the forecast looked great.
Now believe me, this is not the best news to get when you're not in the same country. I told my mate that I would see him at the river as I was simply busting to fish as I had not in ages, which for me is about three days, which to be honest is all I can take, before I go a wee bit insane. I am not even joking here, most of my life I have lived 15 minutes from a river and I get very bad withdraws symptoms if I can’t fish for a few hours most weeks. Anyhow, I told my friend that I did not think I had time to tie him any flies but I would get some at the show that might work and that I would make us both some when I had time as my box was also getting a bit low on the normal patterns we used. So I bought the cheap, not so great but ok Silver Doctors' from the dealer, in fact I bought them all, about two or three dozen. You can go through a lot of flies in my local river, especially when chasing Dollaghan and Salmon in the evening with an intermediate line as it’s a snaggy rocky river. Anyway, when I did get back to the river the flies worked but as the evenings went buy, both our supplies where dwindling so I decided to dress some but I wanted to make them just that little bit faster. During the fishing season less time at the vice and more time in my waders is important to me, so I dressed up the little variant. I used red tying thread for a butt and the head on it for quickness and I omitted the tail completely, but you can use a golden pheasant crest like the original, although to me this does not matter to the fish - it does look nice though. The fly then spread in the last few years in my part of the world into a great taker of fish, not only that a lot of anglers are returning to little hair wing salmon flies which is great to see.
The Original fly was by James Wright and he first dressed it around 1850. He lived in Sprouston, Roxburghshire, Scotland, close to the banks of the river Tweed. Wright was one of history’s wonderful fly dressers and he was responsible not only for a large percentage of the famous salmon flies, but also for the renowned trout fly, the Greenwell's Glory which he first dressed for Canon William Greenwell in 1854 and is in my humble opinion, still one of today’s greatest trout flies. The Silver Doctor is just one of just a handful of silver-bodied salmon flies, that was enormously popular with anglers then, and remains a favourite still for many today. The fly was exported to the Americas where it became more popular still, finding great acceptance in Canada and Northern U.S.A. Many versions have been done of this fly over the last century, including hair-wings, bucktails, streamers, and wet flies, like most salmon flies it looks great given the tube and Conehead treatment too but this wee variant dressed on a double is emerging again all over the emerald isles, where it is accounting for a lot of fish, give it a swim i hope it works for you.
The Fast Silver Doctor (Irish Variant, S.Munn)
Hook. Salmon double 8 – 12 ( I have used the Nordic Down Eye Double by Partridge)
Tag: Round silver wire , also used as the rib, red thread.
Body Red thread and Silver flat tinsel
Rib Silver wire
Hackle Guinea Fowl over Blue.
Wing Red calf tail, Blue calf tail, Yellow calf tail, sometimes golden pheasant topping and a couple of strands of pearl twinkle (optional)
Stevie works full time in the angling sector as a guide on his local rivers, writer and qualified game angling instructor, 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 . He runs teaching lessons in fly fishing and host groups fishing in Canada, Iceland, Argentina, Norway, 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, or www.Irishflyfair.com