(Black) Zulu

(Black) Zulu

Viking Lars | Saturday, 27 October 2018

I never got around to visit that little stream I talked about a few weeks ago - for a lot of good reason, and a few bad excuses. Last week I was in the UK with my daughter, where we stayed at Paul’s, which was great. I spent the days visiting stores (and the odd castle and ruin) with my daughter, and the evenings casting lump-lines with Paul, Lee and Peter. There was also the odd religious debate and philosophical discussion. Oh, and I also, by chance (yes, by chance, dammit - it wasn’t planned, which no one seems to believe) visited the Orvis store on Regent Street in London. Not that that was any success. The flyifshing department was app. 1/4 of the store (basically one corner) and yet, it was where all the customers were. Go figure…

Back to the stream. I had time to fish it this week, but it was blowing a gale, and it would be impossible to even hit the stream, as narrow as it is. There’ll be a chance next week, but we’re apparently in for a bit of early winter this weekend with the first frost of the autumn and maybe even some snow (in the forecast, but they’re usually wrong).

But that’s not necessarily a problem, it just more or less guarantees that there’ll be no surface activity, and that’s fine. And that leaves me with the weekend to stock up just a little on wets. I was tying Black Zulus yesterday evening. I haven’t tied one (let alone fished) one of those for a long time, and yet, I really like the pattern. It’s a great wet, performs weil in rivers, lakes and the salt. I tied 8s and 10s, where as, in the “old” days, I’d usually tie them in 12’ and 14s.

It’s a simple dressing, which anyone can decode from the picture, but none the less, here it is:
Thread: Black (I like UNI 8/0).
Hook: Ahrex 580 or 581, size 8-10.
Tail: Red wool.
Rib: Silver, oval or fine flat.
Body: Black wool or black Seal’s Fur (here Seal’s Fur).
Hackle: Dyed black cock hackle paltered, and a 2-3 turns of slightly longer front hackle.

I like the cock hackle versions, but I also tie hen hackle versions, which is actually how it was originally tied. At least that’s the recipe in the earliest record of it I can find. In the catalogue of Francis Walbran (1889) it’s even listed with a silver tag and a tail of ibis (or wool), and hackles of “spanish hen hackle”. So it’s a old pattern, and the origin is probably lost, but at least it dates back to the 19th century.

That in itself holds a certain quality in my mind. One can say that it’s stood the test of time, I suppose. Why don't you check out my friend Michael Jensen's modern spey version of the Blue Zulu, the blue-front-hackle-version-of-the-black-zulu.

Today I’ll see if I can get time to pass some March Brown wets and Red Tag players through the vise, and then I’ll have more than enough for the one afternoon I might get on the stream next week (it closes Oct 31st).

Have a great weekend,