Saturday, 22 February 2014

Flies of 2013: Kate McLaren Muddler

Bushy Bob Flies
Having just experienced one of the wettest winters on record, and we’re not out of it yet, I haven’t had a single day’s grayling fishing all winter. I have kept very busy though, despite the lack of guiding and fishing. I’ve had all the usual admin jobs to do at home and I’m pleased to report that I have finally rekindled the flytying bug again after a few years in the doldrums, however, finding the time is another thing!

Anyway, as we approach the new season very rapidly, I thought it about time I got back to writing something for the blog - not easy when you aren’t fishing. So I thought I would put together a few short blog posts about some of my most successful flies of 2013, in the hope that you might just tie one or two on your leader this coming season. Please don’t expect anything groundbreaking, or the latest must-have fly gleaned from one of my fishing contacts up and down the country. Those that know me and the way I fish will know that my theory on flies is that it is not about having THE right fly, it’s about presenting an acceptable fly properly. If a fish sees a fly that shouts food because it looks right and is behaving in a way that a food item would do (e.g. fish swimming, drowned insect motionless in the film, newly hatched fly skating across the surface, nymph ascending towards the surface, etc.) why wouldn’t it try to eat it? For more on this theory you should read Bob Wyatt’s brilliant book “What Trout Want”. All the flies that will appear here are all well known, tried and tested patterns, that just look right (in my eyes) and do a job; no frills, just plain, old, simple flies that catch fish and always will do...


...Being mostly a river angler you would expect that my list of successful flies would be made up almost entirely of river patterns, but followers of this blog will know that last season I made the trip to Shetland in search of loch brown trout. In preparation, from the beginning of the trout season until my June departure for Shetland, my fishing was dominated by stillwater fishing for wild brown trout closer to home, on lakes such as Ullswater, Malham Tarn, Cow Green, etc. Consequently the list is made up predominantly of loch-style wet flies…

Kate MaClaren Muddler
Kate MaClaren Muddler
First up then is the Kate McLaren Muddler. The Kate McLaren is one of the all-time great loch flies and comes in many variations. Shetland trout, like trout throughout most of Scotland, have a liking for wake, or disturbance top dropper bob flies. I filled my fly boxes with a variety of wake causing patterns from Muddlers to Sedgehogs, Half Hogs to bushy palmered flies. When fishing a lake, particularly when fishing for wild brown trout, I like to just look into my box and let the flies choose themselves. In other words, I don’t let anything other than light on the day and water conditions interfere with my selection - the RIGHT flies will just stand out from the crowd. My Kate McLaren Muddlers sat lined up in my flybox in the bushy bob fly section and it was in a good wave adrift on Ullswater in April they they gave me the nod. Along with two other flies, which will feature on these pages in the next few instalments, the Kate McLaren Muddler took a good proportion of trout during a series of visits to Ullswater in April and May.

This success continued on every lake I fished, particularly Cow Green, until I departed for Shetland. In Shetland it was one of my top performing flies, but more than that, it accounted for all the bigger fish I caught during the trip, including the two biggest at 2lb 12oz and 2lb 4oz.

It is a fly that just screams fish to me. Nice and dark (a feature I like on my traditional wets), but with just the right amount of colour, contrast and translucency. I usually grease up at least the muddler head, and more often than not the full fly, so that it really does create a disturbance, or pops back up to the surface if your pulls draw it underwater. I just look at this fly and it chooses itself  - a real confidence fly.


If you don’t tie yourself, or like me you struggle to find time to tie, I can highly recommend Caithness Quality Flies for all your traditional wets, especially the Kate McLaren Muddler.