Tying the Yellow Lady
By Allan Burgess
The Yellow Lady is a popular harling lure for lake fishing. It is also very popular in Canterbury where it is used as a sea-run trout and salmon fishing lure fished near river mouths.
Keith Draper in New Zealand Trout Flies – Traditional and Modern, credits the Yellow Lady to Brad Bockett of Taupo.
In Canterbury, Robert Bragg created a very similar-looking trout lure called the Yellow Terror. Bragg’s fly differs in that it has a yellow hackle wound palmer style along the hook before attaching a typical Matuku-style yellow wing.
The two lures are so much alike that one could pass easily for the other. The Yellow Lady always has a red head; while Bragg’s Yellow Terror head is black.
The Yellow Lady is a very popular harling and trolling lure. Indeed few lake-trolling anglers would be without some of these lures in their tackle box. The Yellow Lady is a “must-have” for harling on Lake Taupo.
In the South Island, the Yellow Lady is also fished as a popular harling lure, but it is also highly regarded as a top sea-run trout and salmon fishing lure in the wide east coast braided rivers. These rivers from the Waiau down to the Waitaki often run discoloured following rain or snow melt.
Yellow is one of the easiest colours for the fish to spot when the river is a bit dirty. The Yellow Lady is generally fished in larger sizes up to size 2 when fished for sea-run brown trout or salmon. Kahawai will also readily take a Yellow Lady lure fished if fished in the lower river or ocean surf.
The Yellow Lady is a popular lure used when fishing the Canterbury Lure Rod outfit. When fishing this sort of tackle at a Canterbury river mouth, or in the surf, a certain amount of gear losses are unavoidable. Snagging on the bottom, tangles with other anglers, wind knots, and so on can cause you to lose a fair few lures at times.
The ability to tie your own is a considerable cost-saving advantage. These sorts of lures generally retail in Christchurch for about three dollars each. Consider also that most anglers fish them two at a time!
Canterbury angler John Hey once caught a salmon in the Hurunui River lagoon on this lure when fishing genuine fly fishing tackle.
This lure or streamer fly has a number of colour variations. One of the most popular sea-run trout anglers is a fluro lime green body. Another is to use yellow sparkle Estaz in place of the yellow chenille body.
Many of the lures sold in tackle stores employ an Estaz body together with a redhead that has an eye painted on in yellow with a black pupil.
Another variation of the Yellow Lady is the use of rabbit fur dyed yellow in place of the yellow wing hackles. The fur replacement produces a lure virtually indistinguishable from the hackle version. The fur version is also much quicker to tie.
Hook size: 2-8. A good strong hook for this lure is the Black Magic 2x Long Shank.
Tail: Red whisks.
Body: Yellow chenille or yellow Estaz.
Rib: Silver oval tinsel.
Wing: Four yellow hackles – a version can also be tied using a rabbit pelt dyed yellow.
Collar: Yellow hackle.
Head: Red. Sometimes I tie mine black!
A few strips of Pearl Krystal Flash may be added to the sides for additional flash! There are numerous variations of this fly available in stores and online. The modern trend is to add more sparkle in the form of Mylar and Estaz. A body of bright Fluro lime green chenille is also popular.
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