Jan's Flies

Jan Spencer
This season so far has been good to me, due mostly to the early warm conditions. There has been a multitude of insects which prompted the trout to get active and look up.

We have had our annual packing trip to Tasmania's remote lakes. This country never ceases to amaze me on how breathtakingly beautiful it is, but should Mother Nature put on her grizzle coat it can be dangerous to partake in this terrain. We were lucky in that we had a week of clear blue sky, some strong winds but you can't have everything. The blue sky enabled us to have some superb polaroiding and catching some beautiful trout. This type of fishing has to be the ultimate in dry fly fishing, to actually see that fish, place the fly, have the fish meander over, rise and sip that fly gently off the surface has a completion to fly fishing that I have never experienced in any other form in the said sport.

There have been various flies of nondescript patterns we have used over many years of fishing these remote waters. A well placed dry fly will nearly always bring reaction, remembering to give the fish plenty of time to take before the strike.
The one fly that has always been there in various sizes is a Red Tag. This fly is a world renowned for its fish catching abilities.
The origin of the Red Tag is English and was said to be used for fishing for grayling until it was introduced to trout and has never looked back since. There have been many variations of this fly and I'll bet if you had a dozen Tags from various tiers that there would be differences in all of them.
The tie from the book A Dictionary of Trout Flies is as follows;
Body; Bright green peacocks herl from the moon feather.
Hackle; Bright red/cocks.
Tag; Bright red wool, or scarlet ibis.
Sometimes a turn of gold or silver tinsel is added under the tag, but most tags in this day and age would be minus the tinsel.
It's a simple little fly with really no representation to any one insect but is so effective in so many situations.

The following is how I would tie most of my tags;
Hook; Short shanked light gauge size 16, 14, 12 9 10.
Thread; Black.
Tag; Bright red floss.
Body; One really good peacock herl.
Hackle; Red cock hackle.

1.    Take thread full length of shank. Place a nice thick tag in. To make the tag thick double the strand of floss over making twice the thickness. If the tag is too long cut off squarely as too long will only make a heavy bum.
2.    Tie the butt end of the peacock herl in, bring the thread forward two thirds the length of the shank. Now wind the peacock herl forward to this point, tie down and cut away excess herl.
3.    Take one nice long red cock feather and tie in, make a nice thick hackle, wind thread through hackle finishing in behind the eye, cut away excess hackle finishing in behind the eye, cut away excess hackle feather, form a nice little head, whip finish, cut away thread and varnish.
The above fly would be for reasonably choppy water conditions, for smoother conditions lighten the hackle down by not making as many turns.
Also note I use floss for the tag and not wool. Wool fluffs up nicely when first tied but will get wet and heavy quickly causing the fly to sink. The red tag would be in my top six dry fly patterns.

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