Fly of the Month – Love’s Lure

Pattern, Notes and Photograph by John Nicholls
Used by permission

I have been fly fishing for nearly 40 years, and have had articles and flies published both in local, European and American magazines, books and websites. I am extremely interested in fly history and old flies, so I collect old flies and am in the process of planning and researching a book on early New Zealand wet flies and Soft Hackles.

This fly has been a staple fly for the Canterbury (mid South Island) High Country of New Zealand since at least the 1930’s. I have included instructions for tying a Dry and Wet version of these flies. I think your local fish will just love them…..

Hook: 10 – 16 of choice
Thread: Black
Tail: (Optional) few strands of peacock sword – or for the dry a few strands of black cock
Body: Herl from Peacock Eye
Hackle: Black
Wing: Peacock Sword

The Dry Version:
In my view its one of the classic New Zealand dry flies and should feature in any High Country angler’s fly box both for still and moving water. Probably started life as a green beetle imitation. Or a blowfly. (In New Zealand we have a big fat fly that has a metallic blue – but often green as well – sheen to the under body.) The Love’s Lure certainly catches it’s fair share of fish when both the beetles and the blowfly are on the wing or in the water.

It is one of the few dries that I know of with wings made of Peacock Sword tied upright. There is the odd reference to it tied as a dry fly with the wings tied down. Its still a good fish taker with the wings tied in that fashion. There is a similar local pattern – Hutton’s Beetle – that has a blue body and down tied Peacock Sword wings. Another old but good pattern, by the way.

A more recent version tied with a parachute hackle is also a great pattern.. One of the reasons why this fly fishes so well as a terrestrial is that it sits low in the water – just like a natural beetle or fly. Some will use a tail of Moose Hair to help float it, but I see little need. When it starts to sink, I just keep fishing it!

A local noted tier and author, R K Bragg also lists a Dark Winged Love’s Lure which has dark Plover wings instead of the Peacock sword but it’s not as well known as the original.
The Wet Version:
As a wet, it is a fantastic fly fished very, very slowly across weed beds. Probably imitates a snail or perhaps, if in larger sizes, as a dragonfly larvae. A wee black bead slipped on the tippet to sit on the fly’s nose can help it sink if you wish.

I have tied and sent many of these flies to the US where the wet version had a bit of a following in the US Midwest amongst some where it’s swung across and down during a caddis hatch.

I would also suggest that other hackles be utilised – for the wet version, try Starling, or other darker soft hackles, even go as far as trying darker olive or brown. I have used a brown hackle for the dry as well as Grizzly and both have had their moments.
To make the body more durable, wrap the herl around the thread to make a rope. Depending on the size of the fly, use 3 – 5 herls for the rope.

More flies by John are at
More NM Trout patterns at