Salmon fly of the month
Tie this contrasting pattern on a single hook or bottle tube, recommends Ross Macdonald
Ross Macdonald ties The Neep
ALTHOUGH MY COLUMN may appear meticulously planned by a keen mind, I’m afraid this is a façade. The process is entirely random, like my response to the editor’s deadlines. This month’s pattern popped into my head on Burns Night. As I enjoyed traditional haggis, neeps and tatties and the chatter of my family, something was nipping away in the background. About two days later, my brain revealed the source of the niggle, a feature written in T&S more than ten years ago about a fly called the Neep. I couldn’t find anything about it on the web and so when I bumped into Jean Marshall on the Dee at Carlogie I took the opportunity to ask her about the pattern she and husband Tom came up with for spring fishing. Tom and Jean are fixtures on the Dee in February, where they fish Carlogie and Ballogie for a couple of weeks. They are popular instructors on the Angus Esks, offering a range of fishing breaks and tuition. Their pattern is relatively simple – usually a good thing – and utilises that well-known combination of black, yellow and silver, plus a couple of other colours derived from the name of the fly. A neep, for those who don’t know, is a Scottish word for turnip. When Jean was a child she rode her pony through her grandfather’s field of neeps and so her mother gave her the moniker “Jeany fae the neeps” (“fae” means from). Tom and Jean pledged to invent a pattern using the colours of a neep, which has green foliage, a dark shadow under the leaves, and yellow flesh. Peacock herl was selected for the overwing, representing the leaves; a black fox wing would be the shadow; a silver body stood for the frosty field; and a brown bucktail hackle was chosen for the earth. I can relate to this sort of thought process – you may recall I was thinking of a Tequila Sunrise when creating Calvin’s Shrimp. I bet there are other edible inspirations for flies. They enjoyed early success with the pattern, but with kelts wreaking havoc on the body, a more robust version was needed. Many early-season tubes are tied with Mylar tubing bodies, but I had never thought of using it on a hook. It seems obvious now. I like the overall effect and while a black-andyellow fly is hardly novel I really like the dirty yellow-brown of the hackle. It reminds me of the Joe Potterton, which has a similar dirty-yellow look. It is particularly attractive on a bottle tube, which is a good choice in spring conditions. I think I would also tie it on aluminium tubes because they flutter more enticingly. It also sits well on a single hook. Large singles are growing in popularity as alternatives to tubes in the spring. There are those who believe they sink quickly. Some rods I know do rather well with them. The Neep is a lovely, simple pattern and has enough springers on its conscience to justify its place on your leader this season.
“…a silver body stood for the frosty field; and a brown bucktail hackle was chosen for the earth”