The Mrs Simpson


Here’s an oldie but a goody. The Mrs. Simpson has already been written up as our Fly of the Month, but that was in the July 2001 newsletter. So it’s certainly worth another look. We are coming into the winter months, so a good wet fly for fishing our lakes and reservoirs is certainly an appropriate choice.


I first came across this fly in the late 1970s when I was living in Warrnambool. The pattern was very effective on the sea runners moving up the lower Merri River in late winter and was also used by some of the Warrnambool members as a potent mudeye pattern and some Tassie Lakes.


The Mrs. Simpson is a New Zealand pattern and was originally tied to represent the common cockabullies (bait fish) that are numerous in New Zealand waterways. Allan Burgess, writing on the website says this: “The Mrs. Simpson would be the most popular of the Killer patterns after the Hamill’s Killer. This fly has so many different originators linked with it that it is impossible to say who first tied it. It came into use around the time of the abdication of Edward VIII, who stepped down from the throne to marry Mrs. Simpson. Hence the idea that if a Mrs. Simpson could lure a king then why not a trout!


This lure was probably first used in the central North Island trout fisheries around Taupo and Rotorua. It is an excellent cockabully, crayfish, and perhaps even a passable dragon fly imitation. It should be fished on either a sinking line or floating line with a sinking tip, and should be stripped to produce a jerky stop-start lure action. A Mrs. Simpson also makes an excellent night fly.”


The Materials:

Hook: Heavy wet fly, sizes 4 – 12, typically 6 or 8.

Thread: Black 6/0.

Tail: A bunch of black squirrel tail fibers.

Body: Red or yellow chenille (or wool). Some sources suggest yellow for flies used during the day and red for flies used at night. As the fly is often intended for fishing in deep water, lead wire can be tied along the hook shank to add weight before the chenille is tied in.

Wing: Cock ring-necked pheasant rump feathers. Both the green feathers and the brown “church window” feathers from higher up on the back of the pheasant can be used, as both colours work equally well. Depending on the size of fly being tied, either one, or two, or three pairs of closely matching rump feathers need to be selected and prepared by stripping away the fluff at the base.

Tying Notes:

  1. Run some thread along the hook shank to just before the bend, then tie in the tail. Also, if weight is needed, tie close turns of fine lead wire along most of the shank.
  2. Let’s assume that a medium-sized fly on a size 8 hook is being tied, in which case two pairs of matching rump feathers will be needed.
  3. Take some medium or fine red or yellow chenille and strip some of the material away (fingernails will do this) so that the core is exposed. Tie the end of the core in at the end of the shank and then wind the thread back until it is about one third of the shank length from the eye. Leave it hanging there.
  4. Now wind turns of the chenille along the shank toward the eye to make the body. Stop winding and tie off the chenille when you reach the thread. About two-thirds of the hook shank should now be covered by the chenille.
  5. Take two carefully matched rump feathers (same width and length) and tie them in at this point, one on each side of the hook, so they sit vertically.
  6. Leave a short bit of the stalks of these feathers pointing along the shank towards the eye of the hook and tie thread over these stalk bits to make the wings secure.
  7. Tie in some more chenille at this point and continue winding it along the shank toward the eye. Tie it off about 2 mm short of the eye.
  8. Select another pair of matching rump feathers and tie these in, one on each side immediately behind the eye. These feathers should be the same size as the pair tied in earlier.
  9. Finish the fly by building up a small head behind the eye in front of the two feathers just added. Whip finish and add a drop of head cement to complete the fly.