Alexandra (Lady of the Lake) This well-known fly easily recognised by its green and heavy iridescent peacock herl wing, resembles a small baitfish or fry. Its colour sets it apart from most flies and has been a constant companion of mine for the last 30 years or so. It is not a fly that can be considered as having the virtue of longevity, as the peacock wing is of a delicate nature and does get rather tatty after some heavy fishing.
Sadly, like so many of our flies, its true history has been lost in the mists of time and we lack the name of the actual originator. Some believe it may have been a Dr Brunton, (famed for Brunton’s Fancy), other names are also put forward but alas nothing can be confirmed, whatever the truth, like so many of our flies, we are unlikely to ever know the truth. Some details are however available, and its origin can be traced back to Scotland around the middle of the 19th century.
Originally called ‘The Lady of the Lake’, the fly was renamed ‘Alexandra’ during the late 19th century after Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, daughter in law of Queen Victoria. This later accolade was given to her by the English angler, Major William Greer Turle (1839 – 1909), a well-known angler famed for his fishing expertise on chalk streams such as the Test, and who is also a strong candidate for being the originator. Its effectiveness as a trout catcher was cemented in the lakes and streams of both England and Scotland during the late 19th and 20th centuries, and proved extremely effective when fished slowly on sinking lines in still, rather than fast running water. A clue here resting on its original name Lady of the 'Lake'. It was also successful when fished for sea trout and Atlantic salmon.
At one stage during the late 19th century, the fly was actually banned from many English waters, as it was believed that ‘anyone’ could catch trout on an Alexandra. Having fished and blanked with this fly on many occasions, I would beg to differ! Nonetheless, the Alexandra remains to this day, an effective and enduring fly and should retain its rightful place in fly tying history.
The fly is fairly straightforward to tie and is well within the capability of most beginners. Materials to tie the Alexandra Hook Size: 8 - 14 Thread: Black 6 or 8 Tail: Fibres from a dyed red duck wing quill Body: Flat silver tinsel Hackle: Dyed black cock or hen hackle Wing: Peacock sword herl strands, with slips of red dyed duck wing quill at sides. The ‘Alexandra’ is featured in our Framed Collection of Wet Flies. K...