One of the classic loch flies named after its originator, Peter Ross (1873-1923), who owned a shop in Killin, Perthshire. According to a history of the village he was the local barber . It’s a fly that has proven to be a long-lasting pattern and has given rise to several modern variants. The original has a reputation as both a loch fly and a pattern for sea trout. Early dressings tend to use red wool rather than the seal’s fur used here.
History, is seems, is somewhat unclear as to whether Peter Ross actually tied the fly himself or merely suggested it. Alfred Courtney Williams, writing in 1949 , suggests that Ross did not tie his own flies though acknowledges that he was nonetheless responsible for suggesting this variant on the Teal and Red. Similarly, Bruce Sandison  writes “Another Butcher, Peter Ross of Killin, Perthshire, gave his name to a successful brown trout and sea-trout pattern. Ross was not an angler, he simply enjoyed tying flies“. However, an article in the Killin News  from 1996 describes how Peter Ross, in his capacity as a tackle dealer “…was a skilled fly-tier. He sent flies all over the world and his fame was such that many a visiting angler bought flies so that he could say ‘tied by Peter Ross himself’. His variant of the Teal-and- Red, now known as the ‘Peter Ross’, was so successful that he had to take legal advice to protect the name.” The article, which cites a former angling companion of Peter Ross and his nephew and which includes a photograph of Ross complete with rod and fish, suggests that Ross was indeed an angler and that he may well have tied this famous fly himself.
Teal feathers are not the easiest of materials to work with when it comes to constructing a winged-wet fly. They can also vary quite a bit, as this version with a darker wing shows. The ‘perfect’ fly for framing would have all the bars neatly lined up in the wing! For smaller flies it’s feasible to take matching pairs from a Teal flank feather, for larger, seems easier to take a flank feather, fold it in half, and tie it on.
Hook: Hayabusa 761BN #12 Tail: Golden pheasant tippet Rib: Silver wire (note: original pattern used oval silver tinsel) Body: Rear silver tinsel, front red seal’s fur Hackle: Black hen Wing: Teal Thread: Danville 6/0 black
Hook: Tiemco TMC 9300 #10-12 Tail: Golden Pheasant tippet Rib: Oval silver tinsel Body: Rear red, front black, seals fur Body hackle: Furnace hen Wing: Fox squirrel Hackle: Furnace hen Thread: Danville 6/0 black
A pattern inspired by Rob Denson’s Red Arrow cruncher. Tied on a slightly lighter hook and with the hairwing for some added buoyancy. Not actually planned any trips as yet to lochs or loughs, but have the feeling this is a pattern well suited as a bob fly for bid browns.
Hook: Hayabusa 761 black nickel Tail: Teal fibres Rib: Silver tinsel Body: Black floss Wing: Pair of Blue Jay with Jungle Cock on each side Throat: Black hen Thread: Danvilles 6/0
A traditional wet fly for which more than one tying can be found in the fly fishing literature, though it is only mentioned in a few of the common 20th Century compendiums of trout flies. The oldest reference that I can find to the pattern is that given as a loch fly by Roger Woolley  in 1932. Roger Woolley’s book is a collection of articles first published in the Fishing Gazette in 1930 and 1931. The pattern simply says “Jay Wing”, not specifying whether it is the blue-barred feather or primary wing feather. The rest of the dressing matches that given in later dressings by John Veniard  in 1952, with a blue-barred jay wing (the version tied here), and in his later book Reservoir and Lake Flies . It is also the version beautifully tied by Ken Sawada  in his 1995 book “Wet Flies”.
Tom Stewart , writing first in 1964, suggests that the pattern has been subject to many variations over the years including the version with teal tail fibres and blue-barred jay wing given here. He then goes onto describe a “usual” tie as being red-dyed hackle fibres for the tail and a blue feather from the jay for the wing. Tom Stewart’s “usual tie” is the one given by Stan Headley  in 1997 using a pattern supplied by Davie McPhail.
As to Colonel Downman himself, there would appear to be little mention of him beyond a comment in the French magazine “Le Moucheur” by Maurice Lewkowicz who describes the pattern as having been created by a colonel of the Indian army retired in the 1930s though no citation is given as to the source of this information.
Roger Woolley, Modern trout fly dressing (London: The Fishing Gazette, 1932).
John Veniard, Fly Dresser’s Guide (London: A&C Black, 1952)
John Veniard, Reservoir and Lake Flies (London: A&C Black, 1970)
Ken Sawada, Wet flies (Tokyo: Ken Sawada, 1995)
Tom Stewart, 200 popular flies and how to tie them (London: A&C Black, 1979).
Stan Headley, Trout and Salmon Flies of Scotland (Ludlow: Merlin Unwin, 1997)
Maurice Lewkowicz, Le Geai (Le Moucheur n°46 – Décembre 2001-Janvier 2002).
A simple variation of the black and silver UV hobbler from George Barron’s book  At the end of the line. As George notes, the extra dressing on hobblers seems to appeal more to rainbows than wild browns so this variant seems a sensible addition to my Eyebrook box. Tied up a few for this season with different lengths of cloak, this is longer in the Irish tradition for dabblers. Best described as a modern traditional, the legginess of hobblers should make it a particularly effective pattern.
George Barron At the end of the line (Talybont, Ceredigion: Privately published by the author, 2016).