Devised by Neil Patterson of Funnel Dun fame, the Deerstalker provides a truly practical solution to imitating a Mayfly imago or spinner. When the female adult Mayfly has laid her eggs, she dies, falling onto the water’s surface with wings outstretched. She is now known as the spent spinner or spent gnat and, in her final death throes, provides a large and easy meal for any trout.
During a large fall of these spinners, the trout can become very specific in their feeding pattern, only taking a top-class imitation that both looks right and sits on the water in the same way as the real thing. The Deerstalker fulfils all of these criteria. With a body of white deer hair ribbed with tying thread, it represents superbly the creamy-white body of the female spinner, while the natural buoyancy of the deer hair helps keep the imitation floating right in the surface film.
The wings are simple and easy to create utilising a large brown or black cock hackle. This is first wound on at the eye before the fibres are positioned with figure-of-eight turns of thread into two, outstretched bunches. The beauty of using hackle fibres in this way is that they have a degree of stiffness which means that they don’t clog or wrap around the hook as polypropylene is prone to doing when used on a fly this big.
Hook Size 10 longshank
Thread Black or brown
Tail Cock pheasant tail fibres
Rib Tying thread and fine silver wire
Body White deer hair
Thorax Black cock hackle wound and clipped short
Wing Long-fibred furnace cock hackle
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the tying thread down to the bend in close turns. There, catch in three or four fibres of cock pheasant tail plus three inches of fine, silver wire.
2. Take the tying thread back up the shank covering the waste ends of the wire and pheasant tail fibres. Take a pinch of white deer hair and catch it in so that its tips project just past the hook bend.
3. With the deer hair positioned along the hook shank, begin winding the tying thread over it in open, evenly spaced turns. Do not pull the thread too tight as this will cut into the hair.
4. Once the thread has reached the base of the tail, wind it back over itself to form a criss-cross pattern. Adding a few close turns near the tail mimics the markings of the natural.
5. With the body now secured with open turns of tying thread, take hold of the silver wire and wind that, too, over the body in evenly spaced turns. This simply adds further protection to the soft deer hair.
6. Remove the excess ends of deer hair before catching in a long-fibred black cock hackle.
7. Wind on five or six turns and then secure the tip and remove the excess. Trim the hackle fibres short, with scissors, to form the thorax.
8. Take a long-fibred brown hackle and catch it in at the eye. Wind on five or six turns with hackle pliers then position the fibres with figure-of-eight thread wraps to form spent wings.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
As it imitates a spent female Mayfly, the Deerstalker can be used on any river, rainfed or chalkstream, that supports a good population of Ephemera danica.
W H E N
This pattern only really works when trout are feeding specifically on spent Mayflies. This normally occurs on still, warm evenings when large numbers of the naturals come back to the water to lay their eggs.
H O W
The Deerstalker is fished singly on a floating line and a tapered leader. It should be cast upstream of a rising fish and allowed to drift drag-free into its path. Accuracy is extremely important when fishing this pattern as trout are rarely prepared to deviate from their position to intercept the fly.
T Y I N G T I P
When winding on both the thread and wire rib, do not pull them too tight as they will bite into the soft hair and could cut it.