Wooster’s Silvery – Canterbury Sea-Run Trout Fishing Lure

Wooster's Silvery.
Wooster's Silvery.

Wooster’s Silvery – Canterbury Trout Lure

Wooster's Silvery - modern tie.
Wooster’s Silvery – modern tie.

I first fished the Wooster’s Silvery lure in the Waimakariri River for sea-run trout over twenty years ago. I remember it as being a deadly fish taker. However at about that time, I started to tie, and fish, mostly Yellow Rabbit lures because I found this pattern very quick and easy to tie. It worked so well I used it almost exclusively on my two-lure trout rigs.

Another advantage of fishing the Yellow Rabbit was that mates of mine, who were shooters, supplied me with as many pelts as I could use! Some of these I dyed black to use as night lures. My favourite patterns were: Yellow Rabbits, Black Rabbits and a version of the Hope’s Silvery which I also tied using rabbit pelt instead of purchasing cock hackles.

In recent years I have returned to fishing and tying a wider variety of sea-run trout patterns. I particularly like the old Canterbury lures of which the Wooster’s Silvery is surely one of the best fish takers.

This pattern imitates the locally abundant smelt; which are known in Canterbury and Otago as silveries. These little fish have a distinctive cucumber smell. Between October and January enormous numbers of silveries run-up Canterbury’s braided rivers from the sea. The annual run of silveries are preyed on from above by gulls and terns, and from below by kahawai and trout.

In the surf zone and lower river sea-run brown trout gorge themselves for 24 hours a day. Sea-run trout caught at this time of year are often so packed full of silveries that when you pick them up by the tail heaps are disgorged onto the stones.

If you take a look at Wooster ‘s Silvery alongside a real silvery you can see that it is a very good imitation. Mostly the smelt are white in colour with the upper part of the back being darker. The body of the Wooster’s Silvery is tied from white chenille. A grey mallard flank feather is tied on top to simulate the darker back.

According to Derek Quilliam in his excellent book The Complete Guide to New Zealand Trout Flies the original tie featured a body of white wool, and had two white hackles inside of two ginger hackles. The original tie also had teased strands of light blue and pale greeny-blue rayon floss added to the fly as a topping. Rayon is a type of artificial silk made from natural but highly processed fibres. I wouldn’t bother with that! But you can see where Wooster was headed with the white and ginger hackles as this would have made the lure a bit lighter in colour to better represent the silveries.

Hook: Black Magic B2 or B4 2x Long Shank, or Kamasan B175 in sizes 2-6

Body: White chenille.

Wing: Pale ginger cock hackles – either 2 or 4.

Rib: Oval silver tinsel.

Throat hackle: Ginger cock hackle.

Finally, a topping from a vee cut grey mallard flank feather.

It is fair to say that these old Canterbury lures were originally tied with fat torpedo-like bodies. A silvery is about the size of a man’s index finger so a bulky looking tie won’t hurt. Use lures tied on the smaller hook sizes when the river is very low and clear.

If you are able to tie your own flies why not give the Wooster’s Silvery a try. There is nothing like catching fish on flies you have tied yourself – even better when the other blokes probably won’t have any Wooster’s Silveries in their fly boxes!

Wooster's Silvery - modern tie.
Wooster’s Silvery – modern tie.