Categories: Feathered Lures

Black Phantom Trout Night Fly tied using feathers from the Pukeko

Black Phantom Trout Fly is one of the old-style Kilwell Killer Patterns

Black Phantom (top: the killer style is one of the old Kilwell patterns) and below wing on top – (is the old style tie its origin unknown). It is also one of the easiest feathered lures to tie making it a great place to start for the novice.

The Black Phantom is the most handsome of the killer-style night flies, particularly when finished with an expensive jungle cock eye feather on each side. It is also an easy fly to tie. Unfortunately, obtaining the plumage for this particular fly can be a problem.  

Phantoms can be tied in the modern killer style with the pukeko feathers fixed to each side; or by the old method with the wing tied on the top. It catches fish just as well either way! Personally, I prefer the feathers tied on the sides because to me it just looks better.

To begin wind on your under-binding and tie a small bunch of black squirrel hairs in for the tail. You can also use black opossum tail which is cheaper. Tie in black chenille and the end of a length of silver oval tinsel at the tail. Wind the chenille back along the shank almost to the head and tie off then trim. Then wind the tinsel back over the chenille in nice even turns. Secure with thread and trim.

The addition of a jungle cock eye feather to each flank gives the Black Phantom a very classy look. You won’t be able to buy this lure with these eyes attached in tackle stores but will instead have to tie your own if you can manage to track down an Indian Grey Jungle fowl cape. 

Tie in two pukeko flank feathers on both sides and trim. You cannot buy pukeko feathers in tackle shops because it is a game bird. You are allowed to shoot pukeko in the season but you are not permitted to buy and sell the feathers. If like me you are not a shooter or don’t have a mate who is, you can often find a specimen on the side of the road that has been run over by a car. This is how I get mine. You can also buy mallard feathers that have been dyed black in tackle stores but these are nowhere near as good as they lack the blue sheen!

The New Zealand native pukeko.

The final touch that really makes the Phantom stand out is the addition of a jungle cock eye feather over the wings on each side before finishing the head with thread. If tying the pukeko feathers on top of the hook you can also tie one jungle cock feather on the top.

The cape of an Indian Grey Jungle Fowl – Gallus sonneratti. It is now a protected species and can no longer be hunted in India. The feathers have a glossy enamel sheen. They make perfect “eyes” when added to the flanks of feathered lures; pure luxury for fly fishermen everywhere!

Jungle cock feathers are very hard to get nowadays. The Indian Grey Jungle Fowl – Gallus sonneratti – comes from India where they were almost hunted to extinction to supply fly tiers. Luckily they became a protected species in the early 1970s. The birds are also bred commercially in England to supply the tackle trade, but a full cape, containing hundreds of eyed feathers, is shockingly expensive running to several hundred dollars.

I have been very lucky in that several retired angler mates of mine who no longer tie their own flies have given me their supplies which I use sparingly. If you are so inclined you can make your own substitute jungle cock feathers using enamel paints applied to suitable feathers and tying these on instead.

I admit to having easily obtained a supply of pukeko feathers from birds that have been run over by cars. Which can be embarrassing should someone see you doing it!

A short length of luminous Aurora skirt about a quarter of the length of the lure tied in place of the jungle fowl eye turns the lure into a very effective glow-in-the-dark creation that I have had success with on the high country lakes at night. Use a torch to charge the luminous skirt and you are sure to catch a fish!

This post was last modified on 25/10/2022 4:53 pm

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