Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Royal Family

The Royal Coachman
 As with anything, whether it be evolution or technology, there will be innovation and adaptation to new circumstances.  The evolution of flies for fishing is no different.  Take the Coachman. It is a fairly simple classic wet fly that proved to be very useful for catching fish.  However, in 1878 a professional fly tier named John Haily working in NYC added his own little innovation to the Coachman and the Royal Coachman was introduced to the world.  The Royal Coachman is an attractor pattern as it does not represent any natural food that trout consume.  This has not detracted from from its effectiveness because it is one of the few classic wet flies that is still in use. The distinguishing features of a Royal Coachman are the peacock herl body with red band in the middle made of silk or floss.  It also has a white wing and brown hackle.  This pattern has been so effective that it has given rise to numerous variations based on scheme of materials and colors.  Among them are the Royal Trude, Royal Bucktail, Royal Streamer, Fanwing Royal Coachman, Royal Humpy, and last but not least, The Royal Wulff.  I would like to introduce another member to the family.  I call it the Royal Sakasa Kebari.  The Sakasa Kebari is a Japanese style (used in Tenkara fishing) soft hackle fly with the hackle facing in the reverse orientation from that of a traditional soft hackle.  This orientation allows the hackle to pulse in the current like a live insect.  The hackle in a traditional soft hackle will tend to collapse against the hook unless propped up by some herl or dubbing behind the hackle tie in point.  I have simply added the Royal Coachman color scheme to a sakasa kebari.  It has proved extremely effective on small stream brook trout and bluegills.  Part of the fun in tying one's own flies is to learn a little something about where a particular pattern came from and why it was used.  The Royal Sakasa Kebari family tree can trace it's roots to ancestors in Europe, Japan and 19th century America.  What is truly amazing though is how they all come together to form a beautiful little fly that can help bring a brookie to hand and give me a perfect day on a small mountain stream.

The Royal Sakasa Kebari

Hook: Mustad C49S
Thread: Black Uni-Thread 6/0
Body: peacock herl with red Pearsall's Silk band
Hackle: gray Hungarian partridge


  1. Thanks very much. I experimented with a ton of different sakasa kebari patterns but I'm constantly drawn back to this one. It has worked very well for me with brookies.

  2. Those are great looking flies, and productive patterns.

    I'm still taking brookies on a Royal Wulff dry.

  3. Thanks very much. I was thinking about tying a couple of Royal Wulffs for this coming year but for dry flies I'm more interested in trying out some Ausable Bombers I just finished tying....I hear they are pretty good!

  4. ...and I was expecting a post about Prince William getting hitched. Really like your spin on the Sakasa Kebari. You seem to tie quite a few variations, would love to see a single shot of them all laid out (or in a fly box) in a future post.

  5. Kiwi,
    That Ausable Bomber is my #1 dry fly.

  6. Troutrageous,
    I have tied more than 30 variations of sakasa kebari. They are fun to tie and easy to experiment with. I will probably in some future post do exactly what you suggest, in the meantime if you want I could e-mail you a picture of the ones I have done. I love to tie and have tied many more than I can use. In the future I will probably sell some of them, if anyone out there seems interested.