Fry imitations, usually more at home on still waters, mirror the shimmering colours of the sea trout’s main food sources at sea – small sandeels and sprats – and are probably the most effective lures. It’s no wonder, then, why traditional dressings in hook sizes 6-10, such as the Alexandra or Butcher, are so deadly and so popular among anglers.
Here are eight traditional patterns with which sea trout anglers have taken countless fish – even during the day. Alexandra This fly is widely used for sea trout fishing on a standard single hook or often a tandem. The metallic green peacock sword wing, silver tinsel body and black hackle are unbeatable – especially fished quickly across the river’s surface just after dusk. Butcher This larger-than-life version of a famous old pattern is winged with mallard blue wing quill. Like the Alexandra, the Butcher is another fry-imitating pattern; it has a silver body and black hackle with a tail of dyed red duck. Peter Ross This fly is perhaps one of the best known, widely used sea trout flies in Scotland. Half of the body is red seal’s fur substitute, while the back end is silver. A teal wing, golden pheasant tippet tail and black hackle finish it off. Rasputin This surface lure, made from close-celled foam, is highly buoyant. It’s fished in deep water on quick-sink line. The main feature of this fly is that it doesn’t foul the river bed.
Secret Weapon This is simply a standard lure with a flying treble. There many variations of the pattern, this one having a bronze mallard wing, fur body and throat hackle. Sunk Lure A tandem with two silver bodies, a bright blue wing tipped with peacock herl and a red varnished head, this lure is an extremely popular one. Designed by Hugh Falkus, it can be 5-6.5cm long and, as its name suggests, is fished in deep pools.
Teal Medicine This is another Hugh Falkus pattern. The original called for a body painted silver, a blue hackle, a barred teal wing and a red varnished head. A darker version has a bronze mallard wing. Zulu This bushy fly is excellent for dapping – allowing the wind to drag and skate the fly on the surface of still waters to make a noticeable disturbance. Two or three hackles are used to ensure the fly floats; this is an important point if you use heavy hooks.
These are just a few sea trout flies; there are many other fine patterns such as Teal Blue and Silver, Connemara Black and Black Pennell Dapping.