Don's Fly Tying - The Black Doctor

[the Black Doctor]

You can bet I will be first in line for a COVID shot when the vaccine becomes available! 2020 has not been one of my favourite years with the pandemic lurking around almost every corner. I did get a bit of fishing in 2020 but had to curtail a lot of my regular activities including my trap shooting and much travel to visit family. However, it may be a small price to avoid this darn virus! In spending much more time at home this past year, a positive did emerge when I found ample time to review several of my huge supply of fishing books. As described in my October 2020 article, (, I found a book that was a gift to me many eons ago entitled, "Muriel Foster's Fishing Diary". Muriel was born in the late 1800s in Surrey, England, and did much of her fishing in Scotland and also Ireland. She was an accomplished artist and her diary record published by her niece contained not only a list of trout, salmon and lake/sea fish catches over a 30 plus year period but had the most interesting illustrations as well! The excellent sketches included many of the flies she used plus fish, birds, animals, lochs, buildings, even a self portrait of Muriel striding in the rain with her fishing gear!

I put the book aside after my first review but then picked it up again to have a closer look at her drawings of the flies she used in those early 1900s for her successful catches. I realized that several of the flies that she used to catch trout in the 1920s could well do so in our British Columbia lakes and streams today. I have therefore picked out a few to share with you and we will start the year with Muriel's Black Doctor!

The image below is the Gruinard River, where Muriel occasionally fished, flowing into the Atlantic on the NW Coast of Scotland!

[Brown trout, grilse and salmon in season]



In the early 1900s, a lot of wet flies featured Jungle Cock cape feathers likely from wild birds before the species became endangered and the killing and exporting of wild birds was banned. Today, they can be purchased but are pricy and supposedly from farmed stock. My cape was purchased for $35 in the mid 1980s from an entrepreneur who lived along the Quesnel River and traveled all the way to Prince George for weekly Polar Coachmen Fly Club meetings! A bit of trivia for you to start the year. Anyway, start the fly by tying in a tail of either dyed yellow wood duck or golden pheasant crest feather using a bright red thread such as "D" size rod winding thread if you have it. This allows you to wind a red butt at the hook bend as the next step but switch to very thin monofilament for the following steps. Next attach a length of medium silver wire to the hook shank and let it project back from the butt for later use as a rib. Now attach and wind forward the black holographic tinsel to near the hook eye. Continue with spaced wraps of the silver wire, butt to near the hook eye and tie off there to complete the body. The next step is to create the wing in two steps, a lower black duck feather and an upper black hackle feather or two, all streaming back to the tail. Finish the wing with a curved thin yellow feather topping. If you are fortunate to have jungle cock, the next step to tie in cheeks, even on both sides, is a bit tricky so I do one at a time. Now flip the fly in your vise and tie in a beard hackle of guinea fowl no longer than the hook point. The last step is to wind a head of bright red floss or thread, tie off, cement and you have created a fly that was a great brown trout killer for Muriel Foster many years ago! Oh yes, good fishing in 2021 and Happy New Year!

My book of true sport fishing adventures in British Columbia, "Willow Sticks, Earth Worms", is now available at Trafford Publishing or if you prefer a friendly voice, call their order desk at 1-888-232-4444 toll free in the USA or Canada. In Europe, ring the UK local order number at 0845 230 9601 (UK) or 44(0) 1270 251 396.

Do you want to see the previous fly tying articles?
Monthly Fly Tying Articles from November 1996

Your comments are welcome at " dhaaheim at telus dot net"

Http:// -- Revised: December 30, 2020
Copyright © 1996

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