I wasn't really into naming flies, so when I came up with my first Ullswater
pattern in 1997 my diary entries just show it as 'The Palmered Hare's Ear'.Mainly because that's what it was: a Hare's Ear tied as a top dropper or 'Bob' fly. It got the obligatory palmered body and - as a lake fisher - I'd always liked the style of dressing used in Kingsmill Moore's series of Bumbles , therefore it was always going to get a softer head or front hackle. I remember thinking about using hen hackle as I'd used this on some of the many traditional patterns that I used to tie, but for me, it had to be Partridge. It was perfect for creating movement or 'Buzz' as I think Mr Moore used to say and it gave some contrast between the head and body hackle. Partridge, in one shade or another, has become synonymous with all the patterns in my 'Ullswater' stable.
The Palmered Hare's ear proved very successful for me on my regular early to mid-season haunt and it also worked well for friends on other waters, at home and abroad. But - in my opinion - it was always going to work . After all, the ubiquitous Hares ear in all it's guises has probably been around since 'God was a boy' and consistently produced the goods for fishers everywhere.
In 2001, a good friend and regular boat partner at that time suggested that it was long overdue a proper name. It was agreed that as I'd originally tied the fly for my favourite water, it had to be called 'The Ullswater'
'The Olive Ullswater'
As I mentioned in my previous blog, as a fly tier, I can't help fiddling with patterns, so a succession of the inevitable variations soon followed. 'The Olive Ullswater' was first and it proved as successful as the original. In it's first year it actually scored better than the original - but only by one fish. On some outings I'd fish the pair of them, the original on the top dropper, the Olive on the middle and they'd both score. My diary shows that it has worked for me throughout the season but it has been at it's best during Mayfly (Ephermera danica) time. It used to work very well when the Lake Olives (Cloeon simile) were about but I haven't seen a decent hatch of them since 2003.
'The Ullswater Muddler'
'The Olive Ullswater Muddler'
'The Golden Ullswater'
'The Silver Ullswater'
'The Red Ullswater'
The most recent addition to the Ullswater series was 'The Red Ullswater' I think this one stemmed from my liking for 'The Zulu'. With it's red tag, the Zulu would often pull fish when nothing else was working, it was always my 'go to' fly when the fishing was slow. Another good old fly for me was the Soldier Palmer, so I guess 'The Red Ullswater' started life as a sort of Zulu stroke Soldier Palmer variant.
I know, I'm bound to be biased - it's my fly - but for me, this works better than the Zulu ever did. In it's first year it was hardly ever off my cast. I tried other flies. Some days I went out determined not to use it. I'd rig up with a team of my old favourites, but after a few non-productive drifts the 'red' went on and fish started to come. I don't know what it was that year, we'd had a lot of rain, water temperatures were low and the fish were keeping their heads down. Maybe, like the Zulu before it, this was the only fly to pull them up.
In the years since the Red Ullswater dominated for the season, the rest have come good again. I don't really have a favourite, I'll fish what I think the conditions warrant and if any part of the team doesn't work then there's plenty of very able replacements sitting in my box of Ullswaters....
N.B. For anyone interested in any of the Ullswaters, they are available at John Norris of Penrith or I can personally tie them to order, email me for details and a quote. I am hoping to have a Fly Shop on my website shortly, where a selection of my most effective river and lake flies will be available.