Whilst writing this piece, it has twigged a yearn to try the old fly again so I pulled out an old packet of the sealís fur mix and tied a few of the nymphs with an updated twist, by adding a gold bead head and on another version I added a different method of wing casing that I saw the great Oliver Edwards use whilst I was in England demonstrating at the British Fly Fair during the early days of November last year. The gold bead head pattern is straight forward and is as follows:
Hook: Partridge Ideal Nymph
Tail: As above
Body: Sealís fur, as above
Ribbing: 4 turns of fine copper or gold wire
Wing case: Sellotape coloured to match
Thorax: As body material.
Notes: I coloured the Sellotape with dark brown marking pen followed by olive over when the brown had dried. I must admit the effect of this wing case is so realistic and simple to do. It should be noted that often the wing case of our nymph turns a very dark brown, close to black, during the final days before hatching into their final flying stage.
Multi Sealís Fur Gold
Hook: Partridge Flash Point Goldhead LS (see Notes)
Tail: A small bunch of hackle fibres From a Coq de Leon Brown speckled hen cape (see Notes)
Body: Multi mix sealís fur
Ribbing: Fine gold wire four turns
Thorax: As body
Wing Case: Optional.
Notes: Partridge has released a new range of hooks with the gold bead already attached, which is ideal for tying our nymphs. Whiting Farms have also released Coq de Leon hen capes; they look very much like partridge feathers but the hackles make some of the best nymph tails I have ever seen and if you are into soft hackle flies, you need to talk to your retailer about these products. What is surprising is that they are cheap, very cheap.
Sealís fur as a medium for tying
nymphs came to Australia back in the mid 1930s. There were two fly
tyers that featured strongly in its acceptance, one a professional fly tyer
and author named Dick Wigram and the other, a very competent amateur by the
name of Roy Kirk. They were close friends and worked together in
developing a range of nymphs to match what was widely found on most still
waters and slow moving streams.
The nymph pattern that finally emerged to become somewhat of a standard for many decades was Dick Wigramís Pot Scrubber Sealís Fur Nymph.
The pattern is as follows:
Hook: Captain Hamilton (Partridge TWH The Wet)
Thread: Brown 8/0
Whisks: Brown spade hackle fibres
Ribbing: Copper strip obtained from a pot scrubber
Body & Thorax: Brown sealís fur mixed equally with cut up dark chocolate wool
The finished fly was often teased out a
little to create legs. Wigram and Kirk often added a little wool to
their seal fur blends; this was simply because sealís fur is coarse and
difficult to dub on small hooks. This was not new as the great Skues,
an associate of Wigramís, wrote of this addition frequently. The
adding of wool fibres simply helps make the job of dubbing on small hooks a
When I first entered the fly-fishing arena back in 1962/63, one of the first people to assist me in getting my act together was, as I now call him, ďmy mentorĒ, the late Lindsay Haslem. At that time Lindsay had developed quite a reputation as an instructor/fly tyer and nymph fisherman. Together with another keen fly angler of the day, Ted Barkley, they developed a blended brown-based sealís fur nymph to which was added small amounts of orange, green, red and yellow sealís fur. Naturally the additional colours were incorporated to give highlights and hopefully help reflect a little life into the pattern.
How it came into being I am not sure but there was
plenty of literature around from great anglers such as Skues, Taverner,
Waller Hills, etcetera, to source ideas for the development of this fly
The big difference from the multitude of nymphs listed in the above mentioned works was the size of this fly pattern. They were tying them on size 14-2x long and even as large as 12-2x long. The reason for this was that the size of many of our mayfly nymphs and hooks of this dimension matched them in size to a tee.
In recent years the sealís fur nymph has taken a bit of a back seat, due to the shortage of sealís fur on the market and it is only in recent times that this great product is once again freely available.
In 1997 I wrote another piece for a collective work on Australian fly patterns called Australiaís Best Trout Flies. The work was compiled by Malcolm Crosse and edited by Rob Sloane. It has seen a number of reprints since it was first released and today is regarded as somewhat of a classic.
I wrote of the sealís fur nymph saying: The father of nymph fishing, G.E.M. Skues, was a believer in blending various colours of furs, hair, or wools to create the shade or texture of dubbing required for his nymphs. So too was my mentor Lindsay Haslem and others of his association. They in turn passed on to me a number of their blend formulas, some of which have dominated my thoughts on the construction of nymphs ever since.
The multi-nymph, or ďMulti Sealís Fur NymphĒ featured is a long term favourite and has been successful for me as the years have passed. The blend in question is as follows: dark brown 50%, with the balance made of equal parts of olive green, black, red, orange and yellow.
The pattern that was frequently
dressed is as follows:
Hook: Partridge Ideal Nymph
Size: 14-12 extra long shank (2x)
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail: A few strands of brown cock hackle fibres
Ribbing: Gold tinsel or fine gold twist, four turns only
Body: Sealís multi mix as described above
Thorax: As body but built to form a small bulbous thorax
Wingcase: Mottled turkey tail fibres.
The second version that I played around with featured a slightly different wing case; it is made of an everyday material that is found in all households and that is Sellotape. It takes a marking pen remarkably well and if you flock it with a little of your dubbing material, it also makes great wings for small caddis, ants, or whatever. In saying that, the pattern is as follows:
When a fly pattern works and works well, it seems
to have the knack of generating clones and the Multi Sealís Fur Nymph has
had plenty. As I stated earlier, Lindsay was a natural teacher and
another person that he took under his wing to teach nymph fishing was the
late Maurie Wilson. I knew Maurie very well and in my early days I used to
tie flies for him, mostly Royal Coachmans and Black Matukas. I even
had a hand in teaching him to tie his own flies.
Now Maurieís nature was such that when he went into something, he went in headfirst. He was highly organised and his camping gear reflected his organisational skills; everything had a box and he even had boxes for boxes.
As soon as Maurie became proficient with the techniques of the art of fishing with the nymph, which to his credit and natural skills was not very long, he gave up all other forms of fishing with a fly and spent whatever free time at his disposal travailing from stream to stream across the trout bearing regions of Australia fishing with the Multi Sealís Fur Nymph. As his skills developed, so did his reputation as a master in the art of nymph fishing. His reputation generated many talks to numerous angling groups and at just about any platform he could find, he strongly promoted the Multi Sealís Fur Nymph.
time and believe me, not so much out of intention but because of Maurieís
growing reputation and that of his favourite nymph, the humble Multi Sealís
Fur Nymph in many areas became known generically as Maurieís Nymph.
Maurie had slightly changed the blend to suit his needs and he also promoted
those features as well.
When speaking with him a few years after his retirement from work and his public life, we discussed this magical blend of sealís fur, its virtues and those behind its fame. He told me that he wished that he had within his facility the means to tell the story that I have more or less conveyed to you. So to Lindsay, Ted and Maurie, rest in peace old friends, the legend you left behind still lives on.