In its many forms the Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear is one of the most effective of all artificial flies. It may be tied as a nymph, a weighted bug, a winged wet-fly or as a spider pattern with a parse, mobile collar hackle. It also works well when tied as a dryfly, either simply with a hackle or, as here, with paired grey wings of starling or mallard primary feather.
In this latter form it makes a passable representation of various species of olive dun and may be tied using either hare’s fur for the hackle or with the addition of a blue dun cock hackle.
The former method is fine when the pattern is tied on small hooks from size 16-18. Here the teased-out fibres of hare’s fur are enough to keep the fly floating in the surface film especially if the fly has been properly treated with floatant. Tied this way, the fly sits low in the water and makes a fair imitation of a hatching dun. Otherwise, and especially if the fly is to be fished in fast flowing water, it is worth substituting a normal cock hackle for the hare’s fur to prevent the fly from sinking.
Whichever version is tied, the other components remain the same. The tail is a few pale hare’s guard hairs and the body is dark hare’s fur taken from the ear. Make sure, though, that you blend a few short guard hairs into the body mix to produce a nice ragged finish.
Hook Size 14-18 dry-fly Thread Brown
or yellow Tail A few hare’s body hairs
Rib Flat gold tinsel Body Dark hare’s fur
Wing Paired slips of starling or mallard
primary Hackle Teased-out fibres of
hare’s fur or a blue dun cock hackle
1. Having fixed the hook in the vice, run the tying thread on at the eye. Carry it down the shank to the bend and catch in a few guard hairs taken from a patch of hare’s body fur.
2. Remove two inches of fine gold tinsel from the spool and catch it in at the base of the tail. Plastic rather than metal tinsel is used here, as it isn’t prone to tarnishing.
3. Wax the tying thread lightly before applying a pinch of dark hare’s fur. Ensure that plenty of guard hairs are mixed with the softer under-fur.
4. Dub the hare’s fur on to the tying thread to form a thin, slightly tapered rope. Begin winding this on at the tail base carrying it up the shank in close turns.
5. When three-quarters of the hook shank has been covered in the dubbed hare’s fur, take hold of the gold tinsel and wind it over the body in evenly spaced turns.
6. Wind on four or five turns of the tinsel before securing the loose end with tying thread just in front of the body. Remove the excess tinsel with scissors.
7. From a matching pair of starling or mallard wings remove two matching slips of primary feather.
8. Place the slips together so that their tips are level, shiny sides in. This ensures the slips curve away from one another. Position the wings with soft, winging-loops of tying thread.
9. Once the wings have been properly positioned, secure them in place with further tight turns of thread. That done, trim away the excess feather sticking over the eye.
10. Take a second pinch of dark hare’s fur this time containing a very high proportion of spiky guard hairs. Dub this on to well-waxed tying thread.
11. Wind the dubbed fur in front of and behind the wing to build up a pronounced thorax.
12. Cast the thread off at the eye with a whip finish then, if necessary, separate the wings with the tip of a needle.
13. With the same needle, gently tease out the long fibres of hair around the wing base to form a sparse hackle.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
The Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear is a great general pattern for both trout and grayling and, as such, will catch fish in any river or stream in the UK.
W H E N
In its dry-fly form the GRHE will take fish whenever they are prepared to rise to the surface. As this is usually when there is some natural insect activity, the pattern will work in all but the depths of winter.
H O W
When fished as a dry-fly, the standard method is to fish this pattern singly on a floating line with a tapered leader. It works well when cast to a fish that has previously been spotted rising but is also effective when used to search a likely-looking area.
T Y I N G T I P
When using hare’s fur as a hackle, it is important to pack plenty of the longer, stiffer guard hairs into the thorax. Only these are long enough to be teased out to form a hackle. Waxing the thread lightly first will help the guard hairs to adhere properly to the tying thread.