The Grey Duster is sometimes also known as the parachuting badger, As far as the Stillwater angler is concerned I doubt that the original dressing is as popular as it used to be a few years ago, as there are now so many specialized patterns available. However, Preben Torp Jacobsen, the well known Danish fly dresser, apparently discovered that by replacing the normal hackle with a horizontal (parachute) hackle it proved to be even more effective, particularly on stillwater, and he calls his dressing very appropriately the Parachuting Badger.
This is no doubt due to the preference of most trout in still water to feed mainly in or under the surface film rather than on top, that an artificial dry fly dressed in this manner would probably appear to be more normal. Certainly it is a good general dry pattern to try,particularly in the evenings when trout are dimpling the surface and you are uncertain on what they are feeding. It is also an excellent standby through June and Julywhen the large hatches of caenis are experienced, for dressed on a tiny hook it is one of the few patterns that will take the odd trout under these often infuriating conditions.
In conclusion I can do no better than to quote the words of one of our leading fly fishers who states ‘This fly seems to have the ability to induce trout to rise when nothing else will’.
The original dressing is very simple to tie, but I have decided to give Preben Torp Jacobsen’s pattern. This incorporates the parachute hackle which is to be favoured for stillwater, and requires a certain amount of expertise in construction. To start with, a short length of stiff hackle stalk or monofilament is whipped with brown tying silk in the centre of the hook shank. This stem should protrude about half an inch vertically. The tying silk is then wound down to the bend where the body material is tied in,being a dubbing of light rabbit’s fur with or without a touch of the blue under-fur. It should be wound evenly along to the eye where it is whip finished.
It is now only necessary to tie in the black and white badger hackle parachute style. To accomplish this whip on the hackle behind the eye,take a long the top of the body and wind around the stem (two or three turns). Strip off excess flew and take the bare stalk back to the eye and whip finish.
Finally trim off excess of protruding vertical stem and administer a small blob of varnish. There are several other methods of dressing the parachute hackle, but this is the one I prefer.
Hooks: Size 12 to 15.
Body: Light rabbit’s fur with or without a touch of the blue under-fur .
Hackle: Cock badger tied parachute style.