A fly has to perform very well indeed in a wide range of conditions and circumstances for any flyfisher to consider restricting himself to just the one pattern. The Kite’s Imperial is one of few such flies.
Devised by the late Oliver Kite, who sadly died while fishing the River Test in 1968 at the age of 48, the fly is thought to be a development of a much earlier dry-fly used on the River Teifi where he was a frequent visitor.
Although an excellent imitation of the large dark olive of spring, it can be relied on to provoke a response when trout and grayling are feeding on a wide range of insects. As a prospecting pattern when nothing is rising it is a fly with few equals.
Some devotees have it that a version with a tail of either grey or brown hackle fibres does slightly better in early season than the pale honey dun whisks called for in the original pattern.
Herons are protected and the lovely velvety grey herls are almost impossible to obtain. Although not as lengthy as heron herls, those pulled from a grey goose flight feather are a good substitute for the larger flies. Herls torn from the paler sections of a woodpigeon tail feather are ideal for smaller versions.
Hook Size 12-16 Thread Purple Tail
Honey dun hackle fibres Body Grey
heron herl. Grey goose and woodpigeon
are useful substitutes Thorax Doubled
and re-doubled herls Rib Fine gold wire
Hackle Honey dun or light ginger cock
1. Catch in the purple tying thread and make two or three turns along the hook. Run the taut thread through the wax.
2. Take the purple thread in touching turns down a point opposite the barb. Select the fibres that will be used for the tail whisks.
3. Hold the little bunch of hackle fibres directly on top of the shank and bind them in.
4. Cut off the waste tail fibres and cover the butts with the thread before tying in the pale grey goose herl.
5. Tie in the ribbing tinsel and start to form the body by winding the goose herl in touching turns.
6. Secure the herls and rib the body with evenly spaced turns of the tinsel.
7. Trim away the waste tinsel and fold the herl back over the thorax area. Secure with several turns of the purple thread.
8. Form a shallow thorax by bringing the herls over to the eye making sure that enough space is left for the hackle.
9. Snip off the surplus herl and, after removing the fluffy fibres from the base, tie in the hackle.
10. Wind on three, or at most four, turns of the hackle.
11. Secure the hackle and snip away the surplus feather. Form a small head and cast off with a whip-finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
An excellent all-round dry-fly, it can be fished with confidence on rivers where any of the olive family are present.
W H E N
Although originally intended as an imitation of the large dark olive of early season, it has a reputation of being one of few flies that will induce a trout to rise when little is hatching.
H O W
Fish it singly on a tapered leader and a 3 lb tippet or finer if the stream is shallow and clear or the trout are finicky. When a targeted trout is reluctant to rise to the standard upstream approach, move to a position well-upstream of its position and float the fly down its lie so that it sees the fly first rather than the tippet.
T Y I N G T I P
A light ginger hackle is a good alternative for the more difficult to find honey dun cock feather.