The Roach wears undies

At a recent gathering of the Natal Fly Dressers Society (NFDS), Jan Korrubel demonstrated the tying of the well known “Papa Roach“, that excellent Dragonfly nymph pattern that is making it into halls of fame.
Papa Roach by Herman Botes
Herman Botes’ Papa Roach: Photo ex Tom Sutcliffe…see link above
Jan has a pragmatic approach that I enjoy. He chatted about the fact that he couldn’t bring himself to leave the hook shank bare under the Zonker strip, “because it just looked wrong”. I Know Herman Botes intended the hookshank to be the flat base of the fly’s shape, but a bit of dubbing finishes it off nicely. We briefly discussed whether Trout could count legs and settled on four. Jan showed us the faceted beads he uses for eyes, and then he went on to tie a “Banana Roach” in pale tan colour.
That particular colour didn’t do anything for me, but Jan’s introduction of his fruity version, and his comment about not leaving the hook shank bare, got me thinking on the way back home.
I have always been one for subtle things showing through. Like a single strand of Krystal flash, that flashes only occasionally in the sunlight. Or a small tag on a nymph. I quite like the “hotspots” that people are adding to everything nowadays, although I think that too often they are too large or prominent. I am one for a single wrap of bright colour. People have often suggested that a red band which appears around the gills of a bait fish imitation suggests blood, and therefore injury, and therefore a weak target. The red or green body was always important on a Walkers Killer, and yet you never really saw that. But like a drably dressed lady, who has racy red underwear beneath the tweeds, the body of the fly was somehow significant, if only to those who knew it was there. On that rare occasion when the lady reached up to fetch a jar, or a current shifted the walker’s feathers, the racy red bits worked their magic, and the prey was like a moth to the candle!
I can work with theories like that. They are neat and logical, and can never really be disproven. Most of fly-fishing is built on that stuff!
So with Jan’s ideas in my head, I added some racy red underwear to the Roach.
What do you think?

14 Responses

  1. Andrew, ask Robin what he thought of my roach. Easter weekend he stole one and couldn’tgo wrong. I have been tying with a bit of underbody and some subtle colour changes for a while. It works!

  2. I like your theory! In similar vein try a Papa Simpson version with “black barred gold variant” strip abdomen, thin red wool dubbing on the shank and pheasant rump case feathers. I haven’t had opportunity to ask the fish if they like it yet but it screams!

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