During the depths of winter trout can be surprisingly active, even when water temperatures are in the mid to low teens. If there haven’t been any long periods of hard frost, on a bright sunny day you might be fortunate enough to see a few fish topping and even be tempted to try a dry fly. If that doesn’t get much response, a slowly-fished nymph can be effective, especially if the water’s clear.
However, if things are quiet and you’re in need of a fly that’s got bags of fish-attracting action, then you could do a lot worse than use a marabou-tailed lure of some kind. You don’t have to get too fancy. Just stick to the three big colours: black, white and olive. Or to be more precise use colour combinations that include one of those three.
White and lime green, the classic Cat’s Whisker combo, can be quite deadly, though on small clear waters the fish soon become shy of it. For this type of water olive is better, especially if it’s got a touch of sparkling blue in it. Other than that, black and green is a great all-round combination and will work in both clear and coloured water. It was the one made famous both by Victor Furse’s Viva lure and the UK version of the Montana Nymph which we tie more like a lure than the original which was intended as a beefy stonefly nymph imitation for US rivers.
HOOK: Size 8-10 heavyweight wet fly
THREAD: Lime green
WEIGHT: Fine lead wire
TAIL: Black marabou and peacock black Mirror Flash
BODY: Hot lime Lite-Brite or seal’s fur
HACKLE: Lime green mini Fritz or Straggle
HEAD: 3-4mm black metal bead
- Slide bead over hook-point and up to the eye then fix hook in vice. Wind on touching turns of fine lead wire working towards the bead.
- Push the turns of lead wire firmly into the recess at the rear of the bead. Secure the wire with close turns of tying thread.
- Tear off a long generous bunch of black marabou and trim it to length at the base. Catch the marabou in place at the bend.
- Secure tail with further thread turns then catch in a length of Mirror Flash. Fold tinsel over to create a strand either side of the tail.
- Take a length of lime green (chartreuse) mini Fritz or Straggle. Remove a few fibres from one end and catch it in at the tail-base.
- Dub a pinch of hot lime Lite-Brite onto the tying thread to form a thick rope then wind it in close turns over the lead wire.
- Take the dubbed fur right up to the base of the bead then apply three or four evenly-spaced turns of the mini Fritz.
- Apply the final turn of Fritz close to the back of the bead then secure the loose end with thread. Carefully trim off the waste end.
- Add a few more tight thread turns close to bead then cast off with a whip finish. Apply a drop of clear varnish to the thread turns.