This classic Irish pattern takes its name from a rugged part of that country noted for its superb trout and salmon fishing. It is basically a dark fly with a black body and hackle plus a wing of bronze mallard to give it a very dense silhouette. This overall colour is contrasted by a flash of orange at the tail plus a few fibres of blue jay at the throat to create a very handsomelooking fly.
This combination makes the Connemara Black a deadly lake fly for both salmon and sea-trout and even, in smaller sizes, for brown trout. To get the density of the wing correct, it is more effective to roll a slip of bronze mallard than to try to use paired slips. To do this, simply judge the width of the finished wing then remove a slip of mallard three times as wide. Next, holding the feather bad side up, fold one edge into the centre. Finally, fold the remaining edge to cover it so that both sides of the wing show the brown, mottled good side. Also try not to handle the feather too much once it has been rolled, as it will split all too easily.
Though the original version of this pattern is tied, as here, with a tag of orange floss, this is often omitted. In another minor variation, jungle cock cheeks are added, and this pattern is a noted killer on Lough Currane.
Hook Size 8-14 wet-fly Thread Black
Tag Orange floss Tail Golden-pheasant
topping Rib Fine oval silver tinsel
Body Black seal’s fur Wing Bronze
mallard Hackle Black cock hackle with a
few fibres of blue jay
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the thread down the shank in close turns. At the bend, catch in three inches of orange floss.
2. Take hold of the floss and wind it in overlapping turns to form a short tag.
3. Secure the loose end of the floss with thread and remove the excess. Catch in a small golden-pheasant crest feather just in front of the tag.
4. Take two inches of fine oval silver tinsel and catch that in, too, at the base of the tail. Allow the waste end to lie along the hook shank.
5. Wind turns of thread over the waste ends of the floss, crest feather and tinsel to form an even base for the body. Take a pinch of black seal’s fur and apply it to the thread.
6. Between finger and thumb, twist the fur along the thread to create a thin, dubbed rope. Wind this from the tail base along the hook shank.
7. Stop winding the dubbed fur a short distance from the eye. Take hold of the tinsel and wind it over the body for five, evenly spaced turns.
8. Secure the loose end of the tinsel with thread and remove the excess. Next, strip a short section of stem from the base of a black cock hackle and catch it in.
9. Using hackle pliers, grasp the hackle by its tip and wind on three full turns. Secure the loose end and remove.
10. Stroke the hackle fibres back along the body and then invert the hook in the vice. Take a pinch of blue jay hackle fibres and catch them in on top of the black hackle fibres.
11. Return the hook to its original position and remove a wide strip of bronze mallard. Fold one third to the middle of the strip then repeat to form a rolled wing. Catch the wing in at the eye.
12. With the wing sitting directly on top of the hook, fix it in position with tight thread turns. Remove the excess and build a small, neat head.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
While the Connemara Black is a great fly when used in the place of its birth, it works extremely well on any natural lake and has proved effective on both Irish and Scottish waters. When used for salmon it makes a good dropper fly for deep pools on spate rivers.
W H E N
Depending on the species being sought, this pattern works well right through the year. It’s also a very good fly for sea-trout from June onwards.
H O W
When used on lakes it is normally fished either on the point or middle dropper of a three-fly team in conjunction with a floating or intermediate line. For salmon in rivers it may be fished singly or on the dropper when teamed with a larger fly on the point.
T Y I N G T I P
When tying in floss as a tag, repeatedly cutting short lengths off the spool is very wasteful. A better idea is to use a bobbin holder to apply the floss — this not only means less floss is used but it also stops it being frayed by hard skin on the fingers.