by Tony Orman
I read about the Kate McLaren trout fly during a visit to Scotland several years ago. When I trundled into one of Scotland’s lovely villages, the chap in the local tackle shop, smiled and said “To go fishing without a few Kate McLaren’s in your fly box is to be improperly dressed.”
He went on to tell me it’s a great fly for brown trout, sea trout and even salmon. Kate McLaren has been around for years having been developed about 1934 by a William Robertson.
The fly has maintained its popularity over the decades and is used in Scotland, mainly for loch fishing from boat.
I bought a couple of flies as proto-types and resolved to tie up my own and try Kate McLaren in New Zealand.
Back in Marlborough I tied a few up and headed for the river one evebnung..
Here’s the pattern:-
Hook size : 8 to 14 but usually 12
Tail Golden pheasant crest
Body: Black seal’s fur (Possum tail fur would do)
Rib: Fine silver tinsel
Body hackle: Black soft hen
Head Hackle: Brown rooster. -perhaps 3 to 4 turns
To tie the Kate McLaren, tie in a small golden pheasant topping as a tail. Then make a body of black seal (or possum) fur over which you wind a small fibered black hen hackle (or cock) from head to tail in palmer fashion.
Now rib both the body and hackle with silver tinsel in evenly spaced turns.
Finish off the fly with a red-brown cock hackle at the throat
It worked a treat on the Wairau right on dark and the first evening I hooked five solid brownies. The first four inexplicably came off after a 20 second surge. I caught and landed the fifth – a fine 2 kg fish.
It’s now one of my favourite little wet flies for “across and down” at dusk.