Pheasant Tail Buzzers

Pheasant Tail Buzzers

Patterns that owe no small amount of heritage to Arthur Cove’s pheasant tail, Dennis Moss’s grey buzzer and British Columbia stillwater pheasant tail chironomid patterns from the likes of Brian Chan. They’re in my box to fill that gap between the ubiquitous, fast sinking, epoxy buzzers and patterns such as slower sinking snatchers. To that end, they’re perfect for when trout are feeding on chironomid pupae relatively high in the water, be that rainbows in lakes or wild browns in lochs. Very quick to tie, so easy to put together some basic colour combinations in sizes 12 and 14.

Hook: Tiemco TMC 2487 #12-14
Rib: Copper, Gold, Silver wire
Body: Pheasant tail natural, black, olive, claret
Wing buds: Jungle Cock splits
Thorax: Hemmingways UV dub various
Breathers: Hen fibres dyed white
Thread: Danville 6/0 various

Pheasant Tail Buzzer

Grizzly Olive Snatcher

Grizzly Olive Snatcher

Hook: Tiemco TMC2487 #12
Rib: Gold wire
Body: Olive seals fur
Body hackle: Grizzly olive rooster
Shoulder hackle: Grizzly olive hen
Cheeks: Chartreuse turkey biots
Thread: Danville 6/0 olive

Snatchers have become such a routine fly to tie that it seems almost mundane to post another one. On the other hand, they don’t half catch fish.

Kate McLaren Snatcher

Kate McLaren Snatcher

Hook: Tiemco TMC2487 #12
Tag: Globrite #12
Rib: Silver wire
Body: Seals fur, dyed black
Body hackle: Black rooster
Shoulder hackle: Red rooster
Cheeks: Jungle Cock splits
Thread: Danville 6/0 black

Originally tied to represent the large buzzers found on Loch Leven, a staple pattern on many a loch and Stillwater.

Snowshoe and Brahma Flymph Emerger

Snowshoe and Brahma Flymph Emerger

Hook: Tiemco TMC100BL #12-14
Body: Snowshoe Hare dyed olive
Hackle: Brahma hen dyed golden olive
Thread: Danville 6/0 brown olive

A pattern drawing on classic wet flies such as the Woodcock and Hare’s lug but tied with materials to give it greater buoyancy so that it will sit in the surface film. Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy who coined the term flymph described them as patterns to imitate the hatching insect be it mayfly, caddisfly, or midge, that is in the stage of metamorphosis as it emerges. Suspect this pattern may need some ribbing to give it greater robustness when fished.

Denson’s General Purpose Daddy

Denson's General Purpose Daddy

Hook: Tiemco TMC100BL #10
Rib: Gold wire
Body: Blend of Natural Hare/Squirrel 50/50 mix with pearl ice dub
Body hackle: Grizzly hen dyed golden olive
Wings: Cree Cock
Legs: Knotted pheasant tail
Shoulder hackle: Grizzly hen dyed golden olive
Thread: Danville 6/0 brown olive

A straight copy of Rob Denson’s pattern, though my choice of materials and orientation of the fly in the photograph certainly seems to accentuate the olive colouring more than in Rob Denson’s original. I really like the simplicity of this Daddy pattern, there have been some truly wonderful and complex patterns published over the years for a fly that is a staple for the tail end of the season. With plenty of bulk there’s lots of material to keep it afloat or it would be relatively easy to sink into the surface film.



Colonel Downman’s Fancy

Colonel Downman's Fancy

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 [1] 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 [2] in 1952, with a blue-barred jay wing (the version tied here),  and in his later book Reservoir and Lake Flies [3]. It is also the version beautifully tied by Ken Sawada [4] in his 1995 book “Wet Flies”.

Tom Stewart [5], 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 [6] 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.


  1. Roger Woolley, Modern trout fly dressing (London: The Fishing Gazette, 1932).
  2. John Veniard, Fly Dresser’s Guide (London: A&C Black, 1952)
  3. John Veniard, Reservoir and Lake Flies (London: A&C Black, 1970)
  4. Ken Sawada, Wet flies (Tokyo: Ken Sawada, 1995)
  5. Tom Stewart, 200 popular flies and how to tie them (London: A&C Black, 1979).
  6. Stan Headley, Trout and Salmon Flies of Scotland (Ludlow: Merlin Unwin, 1997)
  7. Maurice Lewkowicz, Le Geai (Le Moucheur n°46 – Décembre 2001-Janvier 2002).