Dating back to the 1830s, the Royal Coachman Fly has been around for almost two centuries. Created by one Tom Bosworth, who at the time was a normal coach driver and exceptional angler.
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 were needed to create the famous Royal Coachman.
Originally known as the Royal Coachman wet fly, it has transformed from a wet fly fishing 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 angler’s 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 fiber or white egg yarn. Changing these modern fibers 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.
Tying a Royal Coachman 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.
Royal Coachman Fly Materials
- Hook: Mouche #12-#14, 8426 or any heavy dry fly hook.
- Thread: Griffiths Sheer 14/0 white or black thread
- Tail: Golden pheasant tippet fibers.
- Body: Peacock herl and red sighter yarn.
- Wing: White dove wing quill or white SF fibers.
- Thorax: Brown hackle sized to the hook gape.
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 minimize the damage done to the fish.
Start with a solid, flat thread base.
Tie in your golden pheasant tippet fibers. 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 fibers, 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 fibers. Measure the length of the quill feathers so that the wing is half the length of the hook shank.
Pinch the feather fiber 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 fibers instead. The SF fibers 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 threads 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 fibers and not trap them—Colour your fly tying thread black. Whip finish the fly.
What fly does a Royal Coachman imitate?
The Royal Coachman is traditionally used to imitate mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, and other aquatic insects.
Is a Royal Coachman a wet or dry fly?
The Royal Coachman is traditionally a dry fly.
When can you fish a Royal Coachman?
The Royal Coachman can be fished any time of year in most freshwater streams and rivers. It is especially effective during mayfly and caddisfly hatches.
Who invented the Royal Coachman?
The Royal Coachman pattern was developed in the mid-1800s by a British fly tier named John Haily.
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 in contact with Royal Coachman at all times as the fly tends to entice aggressive strikes.