Mrs Simpson – one of New Zealand’s most popular trout fly patterns.
Mrs Simpson would be the most popular of the Killer patterns after Hamill’s Killer. This fly has so many different originators linked with it that it is impossible to say who first made it. It came into use around the time of the abdication of Edward VIII who stepped down from the throne to marry Mrs Simpson. Hence the idea that if Mrs Simpson could lure a king then why not a trout?
Anthony Carter has written to me with the following; This isn’t why the fly is called “Mrs Simpson” It is named after my great aunt who first tied it, Mona Simpson. Simpson is her married name, her maiden name is Carter. She also tied The Kea amongst a few other really famous flies.” This makes sense as the timing is spot on. December 2022. I favour this explanation of the name.” See also Hamills Killer.
This lure certainly seems to have been first used in the central North Island trout fisheries centred on Taupo and Rotorua. It is a unique New Zealand pattern. As is sometimes the way with trout flies, the true origin of the Mrs Simpson fly is somewhat murky. You can read more on this fascinating subject in The Complete Guide to New Zealand Trout Lures by Derek Quilliam published in 1999 by The Halcyon Press.
I regard this fly as a must-have for fishing New Zealand’s lakes, streams, and rivers.
Mrs Simpson lures make an excellent cock-a-bully, crayfish, and perhaps even a passable dragonfly imitation. Fish it on either a sinking line or a floating line with a sinking tip. Strip the line to produce a jerky stop-start lure action. Mrs Simpson also makes an excellent night fly.
The brown “church window” feathers come from higher up on the back of the pheasant while the green feathers come from lower down.
The original tie, I believe, used only green rump feathers. However, the brown version works equally as well.
From an economic perspective, it would be silly to waste half the skin. It is always better to purchase a skin with the feathers on rather than small plastic bags into which the feathers have been placed. It is much easier to find two feathers of matching size by pulling them from the skin than it is to search through a jumbled bag full of mixed feathers.
Common and ringneck pheasants were released in New Zealand by the early acclimatisation societies. If you have a mate who is a hunter there is a good chance he will be able to get you a couple of full cock pheasant skins. The meat from this bird is very good eating so there is every chance he won’t want the skins anyway.
To avoid waste, I use almost all of the feathers from a pheasant’s skin no matter the colour producing both brown and green versions of Mrs Simpson, along with many other excellent coloured feathers the like of which will bring a certain joy to any fly tier.
The body colours for Mrs Simpson are either red or yellow. The often-heard suggestion is to use a red body at night and a yellow one during the day.
When tying killer patterns like the Mrs Simpson the chenille body tends to push the feathers away from the hook making it more difficult to keep the stem of the feathers parallel to the hook shank.
There are several ways around this problem. One is to use floss for the body which is much finer than chenille. You could also use fine diametre wool to the same end. Better still is the modern trend now employed by many tiers of simply doing away with the body material altogether.
Hook size: 2-8
Tail: Black squirrel.
Body: Yellow or red chenille.
Sides: Rump feathers of the cock pheasant.
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