Salmon fly of the month
Ross Macdonald recommends a regal young fly tied with wool
Queen's Killer is introduced by Ross Macdonald
THE QUEEN’S KILLER IS A recent addition to the hairwing family and is, to my eye at least, a lovely little fly. It was created on the Balmoral beat of the Dee earlier this year, a collaboration between gillie, David Fernie, and one of his rods, David Edwards. It began life as a sea-trout fly but has picked up a couple of salmon, the first of which came from Queen’s pool on the beat. The story begins last year when David was looking around a tackle-shop on the West Coast during his honeymoon – typical angler, never off duty. He saw a sea-trout fly with a hanging treble, which included a bit of pink on the hook and a bit of green in the main dressing. He let this combination percolate for a while as he thought about the ideal fly for his beat. There is a never-ending supply of hairwing patterns for the upper Dee: Crathie, Executioner and Silver Stoat are all good medicine, with perhaps a small Ally’s for coloured water. David was looking for something with a longer wing than the other hairwings, something with wiggle that could be fished on the swing in the faster parts of pools or handlined as one might with a small Collie. Collies and Sunrays get a mixed press on most rivers because they can “put fish down” or are overused thereby reducing their impact. I get this, but as I have said before, poor casting and clumsy wading probably have a more detrimental effect. Given my penchant for smaller flies, the longer wing on the Queen’s Killer may prove a useful addition to my box. David’s ideas were relayed to David Edwards and in no time the fly was produced as described. The first ones were made with the standard squirrel wing, but I think both Davids prefer fox or something similar that is soft and mobile. There are many options in this respect. I would probably use Arctic runner or maybe fox pelt. I don’t know how much difference it makes in practice, but I have a lot of faith in runner, which holds its shape well and is highly mobile. I might also be tempted to layer the wing. It might seem excessive, but it is a good way of working with soft winging materials. The original fly uses strands of wool for the tags, taken from three-ply, which might not be easy to source. I would suggest using Glo-brite floss as a useful alternative. The pattern reminds me of the Undertaker, which also has a two-tone tag (fluorescent green and red). The flash includes another favourite of mine, Angel Hair, with blue Krystal Flash. I was interested to see a few strands in the beard hackle, which is unusual. The Queen’s Killer offers an interesting twist on familiar themes for late-spring and summer patterns and I am sure it will develop a good following. We just need rain.
Tag Fluoro light green and pink wool Body Silver Lurex Rib Very fine silver wire Wing Two strands pearl Angel Hair, black squirrel, blue Krystal Flash over Throat hackle Blue with three short strands of blue Krystal Flash