He devised the Royal Coachman with a few simple materials that he had on hand. The Pheasant body feathers, peacock herl and a piece of white pigeon wing feather would be all that was needed to create the famous Royal Coachman. Originally known as the Royal Coachman wet fly, it has transformed from a wet fly to a deadly dry fly over the years. The traditional yellow pheasant body feather as the tail remains the telling factor to the Royal Coachman. The White dove or goose feather wing can be changed to suit the anglers preference, with the Royal Coachman wet fly having the classic reverse white quill dove feather. A more modern approach to tying the Royall Coachman is to substitute the white dove quill feather for a more buoyant material, like SF fibre or white egg yarn. Changing these modern fibres gives the Royal Coachman more buoyancy, allowing it to ride the surface film. The Royal Coachman has a few tricky parts in fly tying, but nothing that can’t be mastered with a few practice runs.
Materials for the Royal Coachman Fly
- Hook: Mouche #12-#14, 8426 or any heavy dry fly hook.
- Thread: Griffiths Sheer 14/0 white or black thread
- Tail: Golden pheasant tippet fibres.
- Body: Peacock herl and red sighter yarn.
- Wing: White dove wing quill or white SF fibres.
- Thorax: Brown hackle sized to the hook gape.
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Step-By-Step for Royal Coachman Fly
Lock your hook in the vice, making sure it is secure and not too close to the tip of the jaws, as the hook may slip when you apply tension to it. I advocate using barbless hooks where possible to ease the removal and minimise the damage done to the fish.
Start with a solid, flat thread base.
Tie in your golden pheasant tippet fibres. Measure the tail to about the length of the hook shank. This is the standard for the Royal Coachman but feel free to alter it as you wish. Once you have tied in the pheasant fibres, run the thread up the shank, stopping 1/3rd from the hook eye.
This is the trickiest part of the fly. Take the longest length of the white dove quill feather and cut off about twice the size of the hook gape worth of fibres. Measure the length of the quill feathers so that the wing is half the length of the hook shank. Pinch the feather fibre and point them forward towards the hook eye. Apply two loose wraps and then apply tension. The will allow the dove quill feather to sit on top of the hook shank. This is the method for the Royal Coachman wet fly style, but as mentioned, for the Royal Coachman dry fly style, it’s at this point that you opt to use the SF fibres instead. The SF fibres help the dry fly remain buoyant, especially when treated with a floatant. Once you have the quill tied in for the Royal Coachman fly, split the wing into two even halves and secure with a few thread wraps in front of the feathers. Finish this step with the thread ending behind the quill feather.
Tie in 2 strands of peacock herl, ending at the beginning of the Royal Coachman fly tail. The Royal Coachman fly has a distinct red divide between the peacock herl.
Wrap the peacock herl forward until mid shank. Tie off and trim the herl. Tie in your red body yarn and move forward with the thread ending behind the dove quill again.
Wrap the red yarn forward, making sure the midbody is even or has a slight taper out, forward. Tie it off and tie in 2 more strands of peacock herl.
Wrap the peacock herl forward and tie it off just behind the dove quill.
Tie in your brown hackle, with the concave side facing away from you
Wrap the hackle forward, ensuring you palmer back any fibres and not trap them—Colour in your fly tying thread black. Whip finish the fly.
- Secure hook in.
- viceStart with a good level thread base.
- Tie in the tail.
- Tie in the white wing.
- Wrap the body with the peacock herl.
- Create the red body yarn divide.
- Finish the body with peacock herl.
- Tie in and wrap the hackle forward, ending behind the hook eye.
- Colour the thread black.
- Whip finish.
How to Fish The Royal Coachman Fly
The royal coachman is a simple fly to fish. It is usually fished as a single wet fly or single attractor dry fly.
An upstream dead drift works particularly well for a dry fly approach, while the across and down swinging approach works well for the wet fly version. In both methods, it’s important to keep contact with Royal Coachman at all time as the fly tends to entice aggressive strikes.