Dry Flies


Blackfly patterns for Trout Fishing

Blackfly & Terrestrials

On my local river, the fly-life seems to be on somewhat of a downward curve. The large insect hatches of yesteryear seem to be either, becoming more sporadic in their nature. Our happening during the twilight of evening and the dusk of early morning. Whatever the reason, it is safe to say that the profusion of olives and caddis, simply aren’t there during the majority of the day. Forcing anglers like myself to search for other food sources when spotting actively feeding trout on the surface.

Thankfully that old maxim, of “Anything small and black” still holds sway. And on my own river there seems to be an endless stream of midges and gnats on the river’s surface, topped up with a liberal sprinkling of beetles and blackfly blown off the riverside pasture. It is often the case that trout and grayling key into these tiny insects to the exclusion larger insects and it is well to carry a few fly patterns that will cover these “blackfly” situations.

About twenty years ago I developed a dry fly called the “Black Magic” which was based on Frederick Mould’s famous spider pattern. My dry fly version was basically a tiny Klinkhåmer Special adapted with Mould’s earlier dressing and topped off with a red poly-yarn wingpost. I dressed and used the fly primarily at Bolton Abbey, dressing and selling the pattern along with many others through the Estate Office and local tackle shops. The pattern gained traction with local anglers and was for a time a mainstay on the Wharfe at Bolton Abbey, latter being picked up by visiting anglers and popularised further afield. Later, my little dry fly pattern was taken up by a succession of online fly-shops and retailers, all of whom have never sort the origins of the pattern.

Black Magic Dry Fly - Blackfly

Because of this, I now rarely fish a dry Black Magic. The pattern, has in some respects bypassed me and become tarnished. It is no-longer my pattern, even more so when I view the retailer’s aberrations under the same name.
So for the past couple of season’s I have been adapting and tweaking my own variation on Stewart’s famous Black Spider, to cover situations where trout and grayling are keying into midges and small land born insects.


Hook: Size 16 to 22
Butt:Fine pearl lurex
Abdomen: Peacock herl
Hackle: Black hen or cock wrapped around the peacock herl and then brought forward.

This pattern is typically tied very small, on a range of hook sizes from 16 down to 22. It sits flush in the surface film and in many ways, represents mating midges and windblown terrestrials that are trapped and semi-submerged. The glint from the lurex butt mixed with the sparkle and fuzziness from the body of peacock herl and Stewart style hackle, give this pattern that buggy feel and impression that is often so enticing to trout and grayling.

Like my small CDC Midge, this small Blackfly pattern is turning into on of my go-to patterns, especially when fishing slow pools and runs, where the river’s surface is often covered with millions of trapped and dying terrestrials eagerly being sipped down by the waiting trout.

© The Sliding Stream


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