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Tuesday, 2022-08-09

Top Ten Flies for Ireland

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The Butcher

Mr. Moon from Tunbridge Wells, butcher by profession, originally dressed this fly - somewhere around 1830. First it was called Moon's fly, the name Butcher came up later and relates to the inventor's profession, rather than the fly's fish catching propensities.
Nevertheless, this fly is one of the deadliest you can present to trout or sea trout. Salmon, Perch, Greyling, Chubb, Zander, the fly seems to be good for everything everywhere, doesn't represent anything natural - is a real fancy one and always worth a try. Fished deep and slow, the Butcher is an excellent brown trout fly for the early season, resembling a small fish or beetle.


Over the years lots of variations have been developed, there is a Bloody Butcher, with a red hackle, the Canary Butcher ( yellow hackle ), an Irish Butcher of course ( has a yellow palmered hackle ) and lots more.
Depending on what fish you intend to catch, hook sizes can be varied: as big as a size 4 or 6 for salmon, or as small as 12 or even 14 for brown trout.

Thread - black
Tail - a few fibres of red ( dyed ) feather
Body - flat silver
Ribbing - oval silver
Hackle - two or three turns of a soft black hen hackle
Wing - made from matching crows or iridescent blue duck wing

Fishing and Fly tying: The Butcher

Waving Arms

My fly-fishing started 1974 in North-Germany, at the River Weser. Haute ecole; or the high art of angling as fly-fishing was called; reading so much about it in magazines and books, I just had to have such an instrument.
In a catalogue of ( naturally ) an English manufacturer I found a three-piece split cane rod, with two tips for 24 DM, that was just within my means. The tackle dealer ( who had never seen a fly fishing outfit before ), ordered it for me, together with a reel, slow sinking level line and an assortment of flies. The lot came to 54 DM, or €27.
There was nobody known to me who had ever held a fly-rod in his hands, and even the tackle dealer himself, who knew almost every angler of the area, couldn't help any further in my search for a teacher. He didn't know anybody fishing with a fly-rod either.
So, back to theory, to books and magazines, studying the normal cast in all it's phases; the drawings and descriptions were really clear and all the necessary movements in my head; it seemed to be easy enough.
The second last reinforcement pier, or croy, as the experts called them, way down behind a hydro power dam, or weir, as we called it, of the River Weser, seemed to be the right location for my first trial casts. Mainly because the possibility of any spectators was as remote as the place itself. My fly assortment consisted of twelve thingies, hooks with colourful feathers. I chose a silvery one with red and black ( later I got to know that this fly is called The Butcher ), attached it to the end of the cast, placed myself in the middle of the croy, in order to have water in front as well as in the back of me and began to whip the thing around. Somehow the fly landed in the water and got taken immediately by a perch. The first cast with that new rod and straight away a fish, that is surely a wonder method I thought, much better than spinning!

But this one perch was it for the day, after a few more casts the waters around me were so whirled up, that most likely no fish remained. Theoretically casting was nothing alien anymore: timing, stop, forward-and back cast no unknown topics, but it just didn't work. The drawings and instructions always assumed, that during one phase of a cast the line is totally straight and elongated. My line did only circular movements and the touch down was always the same: at first the line belly smacked the water, then that bit of remaining line I had managed to bring into the air, fell in front of my feet. It made me almost furious, because I was convinced that every successful cast with this miraculous thing at the end of the line would bring a fish.
Jupp and Erwin, who appeared at the far side of the Weser river, ledgering for rudd, remained totally unnoticed by me; I was too engaged with my fly-casting. Only the next day, in the tackle shop, Jupp asked me: why did you wave all the time?
I? wave? why?
Well, you had your arm always up in the air, and you were waving, like mad.
So, I explained to Jupp everything I knew about fly fishing, which didn't take much time, and had to notice, that he wasn't sure whether to believe what he was told there, whether somebody was trying to fool him, or whether I actually really had gone mad - catching fish on bits of wool and feathers, ridiculous, when every child knows that they take maggots - and immediately branded me a lunatic; he had a point, hadn't he?