The DDD is old hat here in South Africa.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Sutcliffe)
I did a quick google search for DDD. First time around I got all sorts of weird stuff, so I added the words “Dry Fly”, and still got no less than 89,000 hits! That says something, doesn’t it? I will admit that after page three the real DDD gets replaced by tent fly sheets, and obscure digital equipment, but let’s just say you won’t struggle to uncover information about the real thing.
Probably the most comprehensive article about tying and fishing it, is written by none other than its inventor, Tom Sutcliffe. I wont even try to top that! Take a look here.
In one’s online search, you will find debates about which deer hairs are acceptable, (most notably the wonderful Klipspringer hair vs conventional deer hair). You will find debate on what to use as a hackle, whether to tie it roughly cut, as Tom does, or neatly. You will see discussion on whether to use a deer hair tail, or a hackle tail. There is mention of using some krystal flash in the hackle. And there is talk of colour.
In the colour debate, the primary discussion goes around natural vs yellow. I remember many years ago, getting Hugh Huntley’s help to dye a patch of klipspringer bright yellow, and the fear and trepidation of dunking an entire patch of highly sought-after klipspringer hair into the simmering cauldron. I still have that small patch, and I still tie up a few yellow versions.
But in recent years I have gone off on another tangent with the DDD, and that is the black one. Maybe it has something to do with a sub conscious affection for the new South Africa and political correctness, I don’t know.
What I do know, is that you wont find a whole lot of information on the black DDD.
I got an unexpected result when I did an image search for the black DDD:
“Ja-nee” as we say in South Africa.
(Afrikaans for “Yes-no”, an obscure and idiosyncratic term, said with a sigh, the head cocked to one side, and an air of resignation. It means something like” well, Okay, but not really”…perhaps, but not quite what I expected….or yes in some circumstances, but no in others, and I don’t care to explain…work it out for yourself…….)
But I digress.
The “inventor” of the Black DDD was Nigel Dennis. Nigel is a world class wildlife photographer, but a fly-fisherman of note too. He now lives back in the UK from whence he hails, but he lived in the midlands of KZN for many years and him and I touched base, and threw a fly together a few times.
Nigel wrote a delightful little book on fly-fishing when he was here in SA.
Included in his book, is the pattern that he had told me about one day, when we bumped into one another at Mavela, (an NFFC water of some repute)…the black DDD.
Since that book seems to be hard to come by nowadays, I quote here what Nigel had to say about his fly: “The black DDD is tied using black deer hair for the body, and sparse black cock hackle for the tail, and collar hackle. The ’legs’ are a single strand of brown krystal flash. I trim this variant to an oval beetle-like shape. I find the black version most effective in small sizes, 12, 14 and 16.”
This pattern is listed under Nigel’s stillwater fly patterns, and he goes on to say:
“The black DDD works well for me when beetles and other small terrestrials are on the water; in my experience it regularly out-performs ‘proper’ beetle imitations such as the Foam Beetle…..”
That was written back in 2005, and I think I started fishing the black one a few years before that.
I haven’t stopped fishing it, and I swear by the thing, on a sunny blustery day on a midlands stillwater.
PD was always a bit sceptical about the thing, preferring to fish Tom’s original one, since he felt he could see it better on the water. I tied him up a few with a yellow yarn post on top to obviate that argument. Then a while back I phoned him up to arrange some fishing. I had a “bee-in-my-bonnet”, as they say: a clear idea of what I needed to do that day. “come on”, I said. “we are going up to leaking dam to throw black DDD’s into the choppy water”.
And we did.
Fly-fishing stillwater Black DDD from Andrew Fowler on Vimeo.