Ed Given was the first angler to tie the Black’n’Barred pattern, and many other similar variations have followed over the years. They have been used in both freshwater and saltwater environments to catch everything from bass and Murray cod to tarpon and barramundi.
This full-bodied pattern exhibits bulk, contrast, movement and silhouette properties in the water, making it ideal for a host of species in a multitude of situations.
It has been the prototype or inspiration for many other similar ‘Thing’ patterns, including Graeme White’s Pink Thing and the coloured clones, such as Chartreuse Things, Purple Things and Orange Things. So popular and productive are these patterns that they are basic necessities for the product range of any commercial tier, and almost a certainty to be in the box of any serious flyfisher.
Physical features of the Black’n’Barred are attributes that separate it from other flies and promote it as a handy pattern for a broad array of species. The bulkiness of its overall profile see it pushing a lot of water when stripped. Many species of fish, especially those in freshwater environs, can detect this presence, which naturally allow them to hone in on the fly easier.
The black silhouettes well, especially in the generally murky water of billabongs, impoundments and river systems where this fly is readily used for barramundi, Murray cod, threadfin salmon, mangrove jack and other species.
The barred effect of the fly is similar to that of many bait species when frightened and also gives some contrast.
One of the special attributes of natural materials is that they possess a lot of movement in the water. The hackled tail will move enticingly and almost make it appear to propel the fly. The Zonker skin (rabbit fur) collar will even waft in the water when the fly is at rest and looks a little like the gills of the fish as it breathes when the fly is stripped. Traditionally this pattern was tied with only natural materials although the introduction of various mylar and tinsel products added a little lifelike flash to the pattern.
Stripping this fly with a series of short, sharp strips will have the materials pulsating and wafting enticingly, which is enough to tease most species into striking. Between strips, the fly will sink in a head down fashion and will then change direction quickly and swim up when it is stripped.
This erratic swimming action creates a lot of interest from many species and the fly regularly gets eaten as it sinks. Really short, sharp strips can almost make the fly dance in one spot, which is ideal when working snaggy areas and trying to entice species such as mangrove jacks, barra and cod out from the cover.
A long, slow single-handed strip is a good technique for really shallow flat areas at the mouths of rivers when threadfin, barra and several other tropical dwellers are feeding during the flood tides.
(1) Place the hook securely in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot (or similar) just behind the eye of the hook. Wrap the thread around the hook to lay down a bed of thread to about half the length of the hook shank. Place the eyes on top of the hook shank just behind the eye of the hook and tie on securely with a figure of eight wrap.
Cut 10 to 15 strands of Krystal Flash that are at least three times as long as the hook shank and attach them to the top of the hook shank just behind the eye of the fly. Wrap down to half way along the hook shank and then wrap back again so that the thread is just behind the eye of the fly. Whip finish but do not cut away the remaining thread. Add some Flex-cement to the thread areas.
(2) Take four saddle hackles that are similar in length and cut them about 1cm back from the butts. Hold these on one side of the fly with the shiny side (convex) of the hackle facing outwards and start securing with fairly light wraps. Gradually increase the tension of the wraps until the hackles are firmly tied in place and positioned as shown.
Next, do exactly the same for the other side so you now have four hackles evenly positioned on each side. Add a little Flex-cement to the thread.
(3) Cut a single grizzly hackle that is around two-thirds as long as the saddle hackles. Place this with the darker side facing out and tie in just behind the eye of the fly. Do the same on the other side.
When all hackles are tied in position, securely wrap a thread section of around 5-7mm behind the eye with light wraps, as shown, to make an easy tie-in area for our next material.
Whip finish at the rear of this tie-in area but do not cut away the remaining thread. Cover this threaded section with some Flex-cement.
(4) Cut a small arrow shape in the skin at the end of your Zonker. Tie it down at the rear of the thread-covered section with a few wraps and then advance the thread forward with wraps to just behind the eye of the hook. The hair on the Zonker strip should face towards the tail of the fly.
(5) Start wrapping the Zonker, make each wrap just lap the last and preening the hair towards the rear of the fly before wrapping over it. It will probably require around three full wraps to create a good collar and get up to just behind the eye of the fly.
(6) Wrap the thread over the skin of the Zonker to tie it down and trim away the excess when secure. Do several further wraps with the thread just behind the eye of the fly as you preen the hair backwards. Whip finish and cut away the remaining thread. Add a little flex-cement to the thread.
Your Black’n’Barred is now ready to catch you some great fish.
FACT BOX 1
|Hook:||Gamakatsu SL12S 4/0|
|Thread:||Flat-waxed nylon black|
|Eye:||Real-Eyes Plus nickel/chartreuse|
|Flash:||Krystal Flash pearl|
|Body:||Saddle hackles medium black (x8)|
|Ribbing:||Grizzly hackle natural (saltwater grade)|
|Collar:||Zonker strip cross-cut black|