I shall take you through the stages of tying a fairly standard version, although I will look at some of the variants that are now pretty commonly used these days. The Diawl Bach is a fly that originates in Wales and literally translates as "Little Devil." It certainly is a fine little devil to use when the fish are feeding on the buzzers (midge pupae) in most of our British waters.
Sorry if I sound boring, but in all of my fly tying I do insist that the silk is taken along the shank in close touching turns in order to lay a good bed upon which to tie the rest of the fly. The one exception would be any of the deer-hair flies, such as the "Muddler Minnow", which needs a bare hook shank to facilitate the complicated process of its tying.
For the Diawl Bach a good hook to start with is the Kamasan B175 in sizes 10 through to 14. My illustrated fly is on a size 10. Like all other flies use a variety of hook weights and profiles in order that you have a good range of variants for this particular fly. You will certainly need some heavy hook patterns for the start of the season and some much lighter hook versions for June and July, although at all stages of the season there are times when the fish feed at different levels.
For our basic fly I like to use claret tying silk and, starting at the eye of the hook, take it in close touching turns down to just above the point of the hook. At this stage tie in a length of copper or fine red coloured wire. Try to ensure that this wire is tied under the hook shank. Next, tie in a bunch of red game hackle fibres – make sure that you have a good clump of these fibres and secure them on the top of the hook shank.
The body material for a Daiwl Bach is peacock herl. Some anglers swear by the greener ones, whilst others will only use bronze. I do not have a preference, and so try to have a few of each in my box. Additionally, I do not like my flies too bulky and find that two strands of herl would be the most that I ever use. Some friends of mine use three or more on all of their flies and catch plenty of fish, so do not think that you have to stick to slim versions of the Daiwl Bach.
Tie in the two strands of herl and then take the silk back to the eye of the hook, stopping just in front (about 3mm.) of it. Now wind the herl along the body keeping a good even texture, whilst trying to avoid trapping one strand under the other. Once the herl has been secured wind the wire up through the body, but wind it in the opposite spiral. That means that if, as most right-handed fly tiers would, you have wound the herl in a clockwise direction, then you should now wrap the wire anti clockwise. It sounds a bit more complicated than it is!
Secure the wire and tie in the throat hackle. This is a complicated process and one that even now I find difficult to get right if I am working quickly. You need another bunch of hackle fibres (like those used in the tail) and they are tied in using the "pinch-and-loop" method that is commonly used for winging processes. Some people turn the vice up the other way to make this easier, but I find that I can achieve the same result by leaving the hook as it is.
Next come the jungle-cock eyes. I said last week that it is perfectly acceptable to split a jungle-cock eye in half and use just the one valuable eye feather for each fly. You can use those larger flies on your cape that otherwise would be wasted, unless of course you tie a lot of salmon flies! Finally, whip-finish the fly and apply varnish or superglue (if you consider it necessary.)
Here is the list or materials that you need for this fly:
Hook sizes 10 – 14 (Kamasan B175 is a good one for this fly.)
Tying silk Fine silk – I like the "Danvilles Tymaster."
Tail red game hackle fibres.
Rib copper or fine red wire.
Body peacock herl – bronze or green.
Throat hackle as tail material.
Cheeks jungle-cock eyes or halves.
Variations: A bright red headed fly is useful at different times of the season.
Holographic tinsel adds life and sparkle to a Diawl Bach.
Different coloured hackle fibres for tail and throat hackles can work well.
Tied short on a curved hook, the Diawl Bach is useful in deeper water.
Have fun tying,