WHO can claim to have originated any pattern of fly? All have evolved from common experience and available materials, sometimes centuries old, have not always written about. The Teal Blue and Silver cannot have existed before the invention of chemical dyes in the 1830s.
One hundred years ago, in the days of cane rods and silk lines, salmon anglers fished this pattern for summer grilse. In smaller sizes the fly also became a standard sea trout pattern for both loch and river. By the 1930s no catalogue of wet flies was without it. Things are different now. From the mid-19th century the boldly marked teal flank feather had been used for winging a whole series of popular flies. There was Teal and Green, Teal and Red, Teal and Black – Teal and almost anything. These were the generally accepted fancy flies to use on the loch, attractor patterns vaguely resembling small fish or large insects. Gradually they have made way for more representative modern flies and only two of the original bunch have remained popular: the Peter Ross, which is a sort of Teal and Red, and its blue and silver counterpart. The Teal, Blue and Silver has been much adapted in modern times to retain its status as a super-effective fish-taker. The history of its evolution is not without interest. In 1944 a short book by an RAF pilot paved the way for tremendous progress in the sport of night fishing for sea trout. Terence Horsley’s Fishing For Trout And Salmon included a plate of flies including the author’s revolutionary version of the Teal Blue and Silver. Tied on a large, low-water salmon hook, the shank was painted with silver nail varnish. The hackle was practically invisible and the wing thin and straggly. There was no tail. A tandem version nearly two inches long, again using unfashionably large hooks and rudimentary dressing, was also illustrated. Terence Horsley was killed in a plane crash shortly after the war and his book was forgotten, but his large, skimpy blue and silver lures were soon to become famous with the appearance of Hugh Falkus’ classic book Sea Trout Fishing in 1962. Falkus was a pilot during the war, too. I’ve often wondered whether he read Terence Horsley’s book or whether he produced a similar repertoire of flies by pure coincidence. What is certain is that the Hardy catalogues of the 1930s show several silver and blue so-called Terrors, that is, large tandem lures, and both Horsley and Falkus were Hardy customers in their early days. They took the standard dressings and adapted them. It’s worth noting that both these formidable fish catchers stressed the importance of ultra-light skinny dressing on their lures. It’s also worth remembering that nearly all commercially-tied flies are tied by non-fishers, which is why so many are overdressed. The Teal, Blue and Silver as first tied and described by Terence Horsley, has now become ‘The Medicine’, the name given to it by Falkus and his night fishing friends on the Cumbrian Esk. Several variants are proving effective, one with a wing of squirrel tail, a tube version and a Waddington. There is not much wrong with the original, however. In its anorexic, silver-painted form this fly has accounted for thousands of sea trout at night. It’s hard to see how it could be further improved.
The Teal, Blue and Silver
Dressing Silk: Black Hook: Wet fly type size 14 – 6 Tail: Golden pheasant tippet Rib: Silver wire Body: Silver Mylar Hackle: Blue Cock Wing: Single teal feather
Tying The Teal, Blue and Silver
1. Secure the hook in the vice. Take the silk in close-touching turns to the point just above the barb.
2. Tie in the tippet tail and secure the excess along the shank. This will ensure an even body – vital to the formation of the Mylar.
3. This is what it should look like.
4. Tie in the ribbing wire in the same way and take the silk so it sits 4mm from the eye. Make sure that you have an even underbody.
5. Trim a length of Mylar into a point and tie this in by the point. This helps to reduce build-up; there should be no excess to trim.
6. Form the body by going down the body in touching turns and then return to the tie-in point, tie in and trim the excess.
7. Select a suitable hackle and tie it in by the base of the stalk. Ensure the convex side of the hackle is next to the shank.
8. Moving towards the eye, using three to four turns form the hackle around the shank, tie in and trim the excess.
9. Form a beard hackle by looping the silk over the hackle. This forms a good base for the wing.
10. Select a teal feather and strip the flue from the base of the hackle. Get the wing to the correct size at this point.
11. Tie in the wing using the pinch-and-loop method. Pinch the wing in position and loop one turn of silk over the wing.
12. Secure the wing and trim the excess. Form a neat head and finish the fly with three half-hitches. Varnish the head.
River There are not many experienced sea trout anglers who would go fishing without a few of the variations of this fly in their fly box. The Teal Blue and Silver has proved itself an ardent fish catcher, especially for fresh sea trout. It is a very effective pattern during the daytime. Fished in small sizes on a slow-sinking line, it can be a deadly method. Try concentrating on deep runs and glides during daylight hours as the fish tend to hold up in these areas in preparation for movement during darkness.
Stillwater The Teal and Black is a fantastic buzzer imitation fished in the appropriate size for the water that you are fishing. Fished just sub-surface, it will frequently outfish even the most accurate buzzer imitations. The original dressing calls for seal fur but dyed hare can be just as deadly. Try substituting the silver rib with some coloured UTC wire for some interesting combinations. When the fishing is difficult, try a fly a couple of sizes larger than you would normally use – this can sometimes pull an extra fish.
Reservoir This is a very versatile pattern for the reservoir angler. It can be used as an imitation for fry or buzzers or simply as an attractor pattern. Some very effective patterns have been created using Lite Brite and glister for the body. Match the colour of the body to the hackle. For a very effective fry pattern use a size 6 or 4 long-shanked hook, red hackle and a pearly glister body – deadly!
Loch The Teal, Blue and Silver is not a pattern to be without in the early part of the season. Fish that have just entered the loch are very partial to this pattern. Fished on a floating line as the middle or point fly in a team of three it can be deadly. It is most successful fished on a short line. Cast your team of flies out and retrieve them so that the pace of the retrieve is faster than that of the boat’s movement. Always dibble the flies on the surface; a high percentage of fish are missed due to not dibbling correctly or not at all.