FLY OF THE MONTH- April – 2019


Ted Dawkin’s Clipped Hackle Beetle

Here is another classic fly from the VFFA’s rich collection. Page 200 of the Association’s official history, The Country For An Angler, tells us that from 1948 onwards the Association conducted fly tying classes to enable members to expand their knowledge of trout diet and the tying of flies. For some time roneoed sheets were provided to participants, but then in 1971 Ted Dawkins produced a little booklet entitled How To Tie Trout Flies. The booklet was reprinted in 1982.

This fly, the Clipped Hackle Beetle, was one of the flies described in Ted's book. The tying notes tell us that clipped hackle bodies are excellent for imitating
the heavy bodies of beetles, giving the appearance of bulk yet possessing very little weight. In addition, flies with this type of body are excellent floaters. The sketches here, from Ted’s booklet, illustrate the tying procedure.


Hook: Dry Fly in sizes 10 - 16.

Thread: Black 8/0.

Tail: Black or brown cock hackle fibres Clipped black hackle.

Body: Clipped black hackle.

Hackle: Brown cock hackle.

Tying Instructions:

  1. Prepare the body hackle as shown in the diagram above. Stroke the body hackle fibres so that they stand out at right angles to the stem, then trim them by cutting the fibres on each side of the stem in half.
  2. With the hook in the vice run some thread from the eye to the end of the shank and tie in a small bunch of brown or black cock hackle fibres as the tail. The tail should be about two thirds the length of the hook shank.
  3. Also tie in the clipped body hackle by the tip at this point, and then run the thread back along the shank to a point about 2 mm from the eye, thus leaving room to tie in the front hackle later on.
  4. Wind the body hackle along the shank to this point and then tie it off.
  5. Now tie in the front hackle, wind four or five turns, and tie it off.
  6. Build up a small head with tying thread and then complete the fly with several half hitches or by using a whip finish tool. Finally add a drop of tying cement to the head.

(Editor: I must confess I made several attempts at trimming and tying in the body hackle, but most of my efforts looked a bit too rough and unattractive. So I delved into my tub of hackles and discovered a small black saddle hackle, and it proved ideal for the palmered body hackle.)