Monday, 24 February 2014

Flies of 2013: Black Diawl Bach

Black Diawl Bachs
In my first post about my best performing flies of 2013 I promised you there would be no groundbreaking flies and there are none more so than the Black Diawl Bach. There can’t be many, if any, stillwater anglers who haven’t fished a Diawl Bach for rainbow trout, though I do think there would be a large proportion of anglers who wouldn’t consider them for wild brown trout. I have been a firm fan of the Diawl Bach for years, it is one of my go-to flies whenever and wherever I cast a line upon a lake. However, many of you may be surprised to hear that until last year I had never tried the black version. It wasn’t a fly that I was very aware of if I’m honest (I blame my bias towards river flyfishing), but my reading and research for Shetland made it obvious that I couldn’t travel without a few in my box…

Black Diawl Bach
Black Diawl Bach
...My early season jaunts soon made it obvious that I would need more than “a few in my box” if Shetland trout had a similar liking for a Black Diawl Bach as did the trout of Northern England. As with the Kate McLaren Muddler, it was the lovely wild brow trout in Ullswater that first took a distinct liking to it. Out on Ullswater, in both float-tube and boat, the Black Diawl Bach was probably my top fly, just nudging out the fly that will appear next in my blog into top spot. Fished on middle dropper or point position, sometimes both, it took fish after fish during intense buzzer hatches and when nothing hatched.

Its attraction continued wherever I went, all the way to Shetland. In fact it was on my last day in Shetland, fishing Loch of Asta, that it really did some damage, taking the bulk of 17 trout that I caught that day. I have since heard that to catch that many fish on Asta is virtually unheard of, so that says something for the effectiveness of the Black Diawl Bach. I tied two versions: one with a silver wire rib and one with a red wire rib - both very effective, and I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as when one out fishes the other.
Black Diawl Bach with red rib
Black Diawl Bach with red rib

This is one of those flies that just begs to be tied to your leader, whether brown or rainbow trout are the target, it just looks so edible. But look at it again when it is wet and not only does it look edible, it looks irresistible! All the components blend together to give an illusion of something juicy and packed with protein, an offering that no trout could say no to. It is in my opinion chiefly an imitation of a buzzer, but it is suggestive of so many food items that its success should be no surprise. 


  1. HI Stuart,

    Very interesting, I will definitely be trying a DB next time I'm loch fishing for wild brownies! What sort of line and retrieve where you using when fishing in Shetland with the DB?

  2. Hi Nicholas, thanks for your comment. It's difficult to give a definitive answer because it depends on conditions, perceived 'mood' of trout, etc, but use this as a guide:

    In a team of wet flies, say on the middle dropper between a bushy bob fly and attractor on the point, I'd use 18" pulls anything from very slow to pretty fast.

    Used more as a nymph, as described on Loch of Asta and fished with similar flies, I'd either figure of eight or use slow 18" strips.

    Hope this helps.