Lures From New Zealand: Part III
The Pukeko Style

Flies With a Story



Flies With a Story #71

Other readings:
Lures From New Zealand: An Introduction

Lures From New Zealand: Part I
Lures From New Zealand: Part II
Lures From New Zealand: Part IV

The Pukeko Style, story and flies by John Nicholls

Note that with the Pukeko Style fly, feathers are tied flat on top of the fly. In the first sample, the blue feathers are from a Pukeko, a native swamp hen with feathers with a wonderful deep blue hue. The feathers are used in a variety of flies. Though the second sample uses feathers from a Ringneck Pheasant, these feathers are nevertheless tied on in the "Pukeko" style.

Three patterns, recipes, pictures and history follow:

Scotch Poacher -- This fly is a night fly that imitates a Koura (Freshwater crayfish) and is best used at river mouths lakeside after dark, fished slowly along the bottom. The Scotch Poacher is a killing lure down here and one that can be regarded as a New Zealand fly fishing icon.

Scotch Poacher

Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook: Wet fly hook, size 2 to size 10
Thread: Black
Tail: Black squirrel tail
Rib: Flat silver tinsel
Body: Orange chenille or fur
Wing: Pukeko breast feathers tied flat on top of the body
Collar: Orange hackle

Bum Fly -- An extremely good stillwater fly best fished very slowly.  The more chewed up and battered it gets, the better it fishes.  When first made, an observer heard to laconically mention it was a "bum looking sort of fly". That is its beauty.  Shabby and untidy.  Fished slowly around weed beds on lakes it is deadly.  Imitates a Bully (Kokopu) -- Sculpin to North Americans -- or maybe a Koura.


Bum Fly

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook: Wet fly hook, size 2 to size 12
Thread: Black
Tail: Chestnut brown Ringneck Pheasant rump fibers
Rib: Oval silver or gold tinsel
Body: Dirty yellow seal's fur, wool or similar dubbing
Wing: Pheasant rump feathers tied rear, mid and front of shank, laying horizontally as shown in this slightly angled photograph

Hairy Dog -- "Then they started to make flies out of the hairy parts of dogs."  So said O.S. (Budge) Hintz who was a doyen of fly fishing at Lake Taupo and the local river, the Waitahanui in the 1930s-1960s.  He was referring to the Hairy Dog and a Cocker Spaniel from which the fur was sourced.  I have a Cocker Spaniel: "Caspar".  His grandparents came from the area where this fly emerged.  I would like to think he is a direct descendent of the dog that this fly was first made from.  That dog got to the stage where if looked like it had a bad case of the mange thanks to the anglers that would snip fur from his back. When he saw someone approaching with a pair of waders on, he would run and hide.  Caspar, can tolerate about four snips of fur before he gets a bit unhappy.  Thus this fly only has wings and not a tail from his fur.  And the fur is not from the smelly parts.... A night fly although some have used it with considerable success during the day.  Green, yellow and purple are other popular colours.  This one has a Pukeko for a hackle.  Pukeko makes lovely Spey fly hackles, by the way.

Hairy Dog

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook: Sizes 8 to 2/0
Thread: Black
Tail: Black squirrel
Body: Red seal's fur, wool or similar dubbing
Wing: Black Cocker Spaniel fur
Collar (optional): Black (although Pukeko shown here)



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