Mick Williams invented this fly by accident. He had been asked to tie some flies with long darkgreen goat hair wings. His wife, Carole, who dyes all the fly-tying materials, decided after several attempts that it was impossible to get a pure dark-green goat hair so Mick tied a fly with the imperfectly dyed goat hair. Since its christening on the Tweed in spring, the Eternal Optimist has gone on to take fish in a variety of conditions and rivers. For spring fishing it is usually tied on a 1 in-2 in tube but with a very long wing.
When tying the Mylar piping body of the Eternal Optimist the aim, unlike with most other patterns using the same material, is to have the rear end frayed. This procedure opens up the strands allowing them to impart even more sparkle into the fly’s tail.
When fraying the ends of the Mylar piping don’t try to separate all the fibres in one go as this can damage them. Instead tease the very ends apart first then work back up the piping until half an inch or so of the strands have been separated.
Hook Size 2-8 low water salmon single
Thread Red Rib Silver wire Body Flat
silver tinsel Wing Speckled grey mallard
flank Hackle Dyed-blue cock hackle
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the tying thread on at the eye. Use close turns to secure the loop eye then carry the thread on down to the bend.
2. Take three inches of medium silver wire and catch it in so that the waste end lies along the shank.
3. Wind the tying thread, in close turns, over the waste end of the wire. This will form an even base on which to apply the tinsel body. Catch in four inches of wide, flat silver tinsel at the eye.
4. Begin to wind the tinsel along the shank in closely butted turns. Ensure that they do not overlap at this point.
5. Carry the tinsel along the shank until it has reached the point at which the wire was caught in. From here wind the flat tinsel back over itself to create a double layer.
6. Once the flat tinsel has been wound back as far as its catching-in point, secure the loose end with thread and remove the excess. Wind the silver wire in evenly spaced turns.
7. Secure the loose end of the wire with thread and remove the excess by wiggling it repeatedly until it fatigues. Take a dyed-blue cock hackle and catch it in by its base at the front of the body.
8. Holding the tip of the hackle with hackle pliers, wind on two full turns. This is ample, as the finished hackle should be quite sparse.
9. Fix the hackle tip with turns of tying thread then remove the waste end. Stroke the hackle fibres back along the body and position with thread turns.
10. Take a wide slip of speckled grey mallard flank feather. Ensuring that the tips are basically level, fold the slip twice to form a thin wing-slip.
11. Trim it to length first, then position the wing on top of the hook so that its tip projects just past the bend. Using soft or “winging” loops ensures that the wing doesn’t twist out of position.
12. With the wing in place, fix it securely with further tight turns of thread. Build a small, neat head and cast off with a whip finish. Finally, add a coat or two of red or clear varnish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Being such an all-round fly the Medicine works well on any river that has a good run of sea-trout. Also worth using during the summer on any river where grilse run.
W H E N
This pattern will take fish as soon as sea-trout begin to run the river. In various sizes and shades of wing it is effective throughout the season. Normally used for night-fishing from dusk through to midnight, it is definitely worth a swim in daylight as a spate fines down.
H O W
It is usually fished singly on a range of line densities from a floater to an intermediate or even a fast sinker when conditions dictate. With all lines, the normal method is to cast it across the flow and allow it to swing around steadily in the current.
T Y I N G T I P
When applying the thread along the shank to form the base for the body, ensure that the thread lies flat to keep bulk to the absolute minimum.