Salmon fly of the month

Tie this con­trast­ing pat­tern on a sin­gle hook or bot­tle tube, rec­om­mends Ross Mac­don­ald

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Contents -

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”

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