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Green-tailed Kate McLaren Hedgehog

A favourite fly for wild brown trout waters, and in the sea too. But which shade of Glo-Brite green should you use?


1. Secure thread onto hook.
1. Secure thread onto hook.
2. Take a 6in (150mm) length of floss.
2. Take a 6in (150mm) length of floss.
3. Fold the floss twice and tie in on top of hook-shank.
3. Fold the floss twice and tie in on top of hook-shank.
4. Tie in with thread, trim the tail square at the rear of the hook leaving approx.. ½” (12mm) overhang off bend.
4. Tie in with thread, trim the tail square at the rear of the hook leaving approx.. ½” (12mm) overhang off bend.
5. Take a bunch of deer hair, cutting it tight to skin.
5. Take a bunch of deer hair, cutting it tight to skin.
6. Stack the hair, then set onto rear of hook, facing backwards, slightly short of the tail.
6. Stack the hair, then set onto rear of hook, facing backwards, slightly short of the tail.
7. Hold hair on top of hook tightly and secure with thread, allowing the 'tag' ends to flare out (don't spin hair round hook).
7. Hold hair on top of hook tightly and secure with thread, allowing the 'tag' ends to flare out (don't spin hair round hook).
8. Draw all 'tag' ends together then cut away tight to hook-shank.
8. Draw all 'tag' ends together then cut away tight to hook-shank.
9. Secure cut hair ends and dub on (sparse) body and cover thread turns.
9. Secure cut hair ends and dub on (sparse) body and cover thread turns.
10. Repeat steps 5–8 with a second bunch, tied in front of first section (hair tips should sit just in front of first bunch).
10. Repeat steps 5–8 with a second bunch, tied in front of first section (hair tips should sit just in front of first bunch).
11. Repeat step 9, securing the cut ends and adding in the dubbed body.
11. Repeat step 9, securing the cut ends and adding in the dubbed body.
12. Repeat steps 5 - 9 with a third and then a fourth bunch of hair forming a continuous wing along the top of the hook.
12. Repeat steps 5 - 9 with a third and then a fourth bunch of hair forming a continuous wing along the top of the hook.
13. Secure the final bunch trimmed ends with thread, but do not add body dubbing.
13. Secure the final bunch trimmed ends with thread, but do not add body dubbing.
14. Select half a dozen PT knotted legs. (Note: Adding the legs is optional).
14. Select half a dozen PT knotted legs. (Note: Adding the legs is optional).
15. Tie the legs in splitting half to one side, half to the opposite side.
15. Tie the legs in splitting half to one side, half to the opposite side.
16. Take the Glister and dub onto thread to form head.
16. Take the Glister and dub onto thread to form head.
17. Apply varnish to thread, whip finish and trim thread, then brush ‘Glister’ back up into wing.
17. Apply varnish to thread, whip finish and trim thread, then brush ‘Glister’ back up into wing.
Finished fly.
Finished fly.

The Kate McLaren is a fly I’ve sung the praises of many time before and the competition-born green-tailed version was one of many variations that came about, however it’s also one that has survived, and is present in many wild anglers' fly selections.

Using Glo-Brite fluorescent floss in the tail of flies is commonplace nowadays, but the combination of the lime green (Glo-Brite No11) and the predominant black colour of the Kate McLaren was a winner from the start. That said, many anglers still prefer to use Glo-Brite No 12, which is a darker shade of green (you could say a 'true green' as opposed to the lime greeny yellow colour of the No 11 floss) but I’ve not found this shade to be as effective, so I’ve pretty much stuck with the colour as shown. I have been told that the darker green works better if fishing this fly deep, but to be honest I can’t say I’ve really noticed the difference and this Green-tailed Kate has struck gold for me when I’ve had to use it ‘down and dirty’.

If I was pressed, I’d admit that the Muddler in a bigger wave is slightly better, so the obvious step from here is to the Hedgehog – the version I’m demonstrating here. Hedgehogs hail pretty much from Orkney – or at least how we know them today – and this style of tying is a go-to dressing for me when chasing wild loch trout (it is also handy with our stocked fish).

My Green-tailed Kate Hog has certainly not let me down, especially when used on darker, peatier waters, for which the north of Scotland is so famous. But it is not limited to here, and it has also worked for me in the salt when chasing silver trout – an attribute of its general impressionistic profile and fish attention-grabbing action.

So that’s an introduction to the Green-tailed Kate Hog for you; all that’s left is for you to add this to your collection and head out to make your own memories with it.

Green-tailed Kate Hog
Hook: Sprite S1401 GP Dry size 10–14 or Partridge K5A Dry Fly Supreme, size 10–14. (Note for migratory fish, or if I want the fly to sit a little deeper into the surface film, which can be required in a big wave; I switch to Partridge G3A/L Wet Fly Supreme, size 10–14).
Thread: Semperfli black 8/0 waxed thread.
Tail: Glo-Brite floss (shade No 11).
Body: Black. This is Semperfli Sparkle Dub.
Wing: Natural roe deer hair (from the back of the animal, as it doesn’t flare too much and it much easier to use).
Legs: Double knotted natural coloured pheasant tail.
Head: Medium olive Glister.

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