The 'Grisly' History of the Bloody Butcher - (Moon’s Butcher) This well-known and attractive fly was originally called Moon’s Butcher and was first tied around 1835. The original Wet Fly Butcher was named after its originator, a Mr. Moon who was a local butcher in the town of Tunbridge Wells, England. Mr. Moon’s explanation for the colours of the fly, was that the red tail of the fly represented his meat cleaver (blood covered of course), and the blue wing representing the colour of his butcher’s apron.
A Mr. Jewhurst was also involved in the design, but no details appear to exist of his involvement, perhaps the body and hackle was Mr. Jewhurst's contribution. Strangely, this fly does not actually imitate any known insect, it is nonetheless a very effective design and will catch trout regularly given the right conditions. I have often pondered this fact over many years of using it and have failed to come up with an answer.
Obviously, the movement of the fly will always arouse the curiosity of trout, and the vivid colours will always tempt them, but why they ‘actually’ take it, and what they are expecting to eat, I am no nearer to an answer. The Butcher must be one of the few flies ever designed around a vocation, and was very probably used as an early marketing ploy for Mr. Moons business, rather than to act as a serious imitator. If any-one knows of any other flies that follow vocations please let me know, and I will follow up with another story.
Over the generations the fly has been tied in many combinations of both Wet and Dry but, suffice to say it is easily recognised by the prominence of its primary colours of Blue, Red and Silver. The design has also taken on additional names such as the Kingfisher Butcher (Featured in our Wet Fly frame), Silver Butcher and Irish Butcher, variations of the same theme, but no less effective on both still waters and rivers. I have taken both Rainbow and Brown trout with this fly on many occasions, but have yet to take a sea trout, for which I am told the fly is equally effective. Whatever the reasons for Mr. Moons design, it worked, the fly has become a firm favourite for anglers around the globe for over 180 years and rightly deserves its place among the 'greats' of trout flies.
The fly is very straightforward to tie, and the materials for the ‘Original Wet Fly’ version are as follows: Tail: Scarlet goose or hackle fibres. Body: Flat silver tinsel. Rib: Oval silver tinsel. Wing: Blue mallard with white tips, or crow. Hackle: Scarlet. The Bloody Butcher is featured in our Wet Fly Collection.