Although the Leadwing Coachman, in some ways, represents a bygone era in fly fishing, it's still an extremely effective pattern. Here, Matt Grobert, who regularly fishes them, particularly in the winter months, will show us how to tie one.
Even though it's a wet fly, tying them on a dry fly hook is perfectly acceptable, here a Dai-Riki #305 in size 12. For thread, Matt's going to use black 6/0 Danville. Start your thread leaving a hook eye's space behind the eye and wrap backwards to halfway between the point and the barb.
For the tag, Matt uses medium tinsel that's gold on one side and silver on the other. Cutting a shallow angle at the tie-in end makes it easier to tie in and begin wrapping without a lump.
Once you have the tip tied in, advance your thread up the hook shank a good ways. Then begin making overlapping wraps of tinsel, first down the hook bend and then back. Do your best to keep the tinsel flat during this process to avoid puckering. Once you wrap back to the tie-in point, unwind your thread and then use it to firmly tie down the tinsel. You can then snip the remainder off close.
Matt next ties in fine gold wire that he will use to spiral up the body in order to protect the fly's fragile peacock herl. With it tied in, once again advance your thread up the shank.
Snip a single strand of peacock herl from below the eye. Secure the herl to the hookshank so when you wrap, the green iridescent fibers will point outward to create a nice bushy body. While keeping hold of the herl, pick up the gold wire and take a wrap to secure the herl. Then wrap the wire up the shank in an open spiral, zig zagging to prevent trapping fibers. At the front of the body, tie the wire off with a few tight wraps of tying thread. You can then helicopter the wire to break it off close. Finally snip the excess herl off.
Take a couple of turns of thread to create a nice smooth base on which to wrap a hen hackle. Matt selects a single feather from a speckled brown neck and strips most of the fibers away to leave just the tip. Pull more fibers back but don't strip them off, this will expose just the very tip of the feather. Then snip that off leaving a small triangle to aid in tie-in. Secure this triangle to the near side of the hook making sure it's tied in well. Using hackle pliers, pull up on the stem and fold the fibers rearward and begin taking wraps with the hackle. The fibers should extend just beyond the hook point. Anchor the stem with a few wraps of thread and then carefully snip the stem off close.
Using a matched set of mallard wing feathers, separate about a quarter inch segment from one feather and snip it off near the stem. Now repeat this process at the same location on the matching feather. This next part's a little tricky - what you want to do is orient the feather segments so the cupped sides are facing each other. The very tips of the segments should point upward. Place the segments on top of the hook so their tips reach just beyond the bend. Using a pinch wrap, take two very loose turns with your tying thread and then pull straight up to compress the segments and secure them to the top of the hook. Maintaining the pinch, take several more wraps to make sure the wings stay in place. You can then snip the butt ends off close being careful not to cut your tying thread. Use a few more wraps to cover up the butts and form a nice neat head.
Use a 4 or 5 turn whip finish to complete the fly and, if you like, add a drop of head cement. And there you have it, one regulation Leadwing Coachman ready to be gently swung or drifted to a trout near you.