The Para-Rab is an iconic South African dry fly that has inspired many changes in my tying and fishing. Aside from being a highly effective pattern, it’s a fun fly to fish and to tie. The fly presents like a dream with its large halo hackle and I reckon a large portion of its success is due to how delicately it presents and how visible it is to the fisherman. Philip Meyer, the original designer came up with a very innovative way to create a halo hackle. The halo hackle of squirrel tail hairs is the main trigger in this fly and is one of the really fun aspects of tying this fly. There are lots of different versions of the Para-Rab out there but they all have one thing in common, a large halo hackle and a slender body.
As a keen follower of Tom Sutcliffes monthly news letter, it was a bit like dejavu to read about how he was trying to “redisign the wheel” in almost exactly the same way I was. Last month while I was couped up inside in a cold and rainy New Zealand, I was also trying to do a spilt thread dubbing of the hairs around the post to get a better distribution of the hairs around the post. I was short of some of my tying tools in NZ, so I never really progressed that far. Tom had a lot more success than I did in that regard. It was a frustrating exercise trying to do it without my bulldog clip which I left at home. When reading Tom’s news letter the other day, I thought I had to give it a bash again.
You might well ask why I want to change such an effective design? Well in my opinion there is only one problem with the design, and that is the need to readjust the halo fibres while you fish. The often tend to end up facing forward or only surrounding the front half of the fly. I kept wondering how I could incorporate the halo into the hackle and have it coming out of the base of the post. I have come up with a few different ideas that come up with the same result. In the end I settled with something quite far removed from the original fly, with halo hackle coming out of the post, as opposed to from the head.
Here follow a few different ways that I have fiddled around with the basic design.