Stoats Tail

tying sea trout flies

praying for rain

The river has been low this year, very low in fact, and the all-time lowest recorded water level on the river was recorded this year. Having continued tying a small selection of sea trout flies in anticipation of late summer rainfall, finally the rain arrived in heavy, thundery bursts. With the river level dropping it was at last, time to embark on my quest for a day time sea trout.

In my last post Sea Trout Blues, I mentioned I had ordered some grey squirrel tails to tie some hairwing sea trout flies. My order from Angling Active arrived earlier than expected and I was pleased to be able to begin tying my sea trout flies slightly sooner than I had planned. Never having tied a hairwing fly before, I was slightly nervous, while at the same time excited too and looking forward to the challenge.

My research had suggested that the Stoats Tail and the Silver Stoat made very good sea trout flies and it was with the Stoats Tail that I chose to begin. I found little in the way of information on the origins of the Stoats Tail. Apparently it may have originated from the ‘vice’ of James Wright of Sprouston-on-Tweed between 1870-1880, however it seems to be more accepted that it originates from Park on the Scottish River Dee, having been created by George Cooper, a gillie at Park in the 1950s. Perhaps the Stoats Tail credited to James Wright, was a different pattern entirely than the fly created by George Cooper. I don’t know, but either way, research suggested it was worth having in the fly box for sea trout as much as for salmon. Little could I know that the Stoats Tail would entice its first fish for me on just my second cast of my first session. Unfortunately, and with just one twist, the fish threw the fly and was off after just a second or two. I saw it flash a silvery copper colour under the water as it did so. Was it a better sized brown trout or indeed a small sea trout; we shall never know. The fly went on to take a few fish for me and stood up not too badly, although you may be able to spot some of the damage done to it by the small wild brown trout.

I understand that the Stoats Tail salmon fly should have five turns of wire along the body, but I opted for three in my scaled down #12 sea trout fly version. To strengthen the tag, I added a touch of varnish just in front of the tag and then wound the tag over the wet varnish. Quite a ‘busy’ pattern (for me anyway!) and I tried to limit my thread turns for neatness. The wing material wasn’t too bad to get used to handling. I saw videos advocating using a touch of varnish on the cut ends of the hairwing prior to securing them with thread along with the rest of the wing and before building up the head. Consequently I did likewise as advised. – seatrout flies - Stoats Tail
Stoats Tail – Tag: fine silver tinsel Tail: pheasant crest Body: black floss Rib: fine silver wire Hackle: black hen Wing: grey squirrel dyed black

It is a pretty fly and right from the beginning of the session seemed to entice the trout and I managed a few fish on it before changing to a different sea trout fly later on. No sea trout to hand, but the wild brown trout were more than happy to attack it. I couldn’t resist letting it swim just in front of me and seeing how these hairwing flies move in the water. I was pleasantly surprised by how it looked and way it swam in the current.

A couple of times I felt the take was from bigger fish than I had encountered so far, so perhaps, just perhaps, they were indeed sea trout…

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