Arthur's original concept of this fly was to use it sacrificially as a weight on the end of a long leader - the intention being to concentrate on fishing a couple of smaller buzzer pupae on droppers at different heights in the water column.
Devised by Arthur Cove
Hook size: Originally a heavy wire roundbend 8. From 4 l/s to 16 Sproat. Widely varied.
Body: Bunch of Cock Pheasant Centre Tail fibres to suit hooksize
Rib: Fine Copper Wire
Thorax: Originally Dubbed Hare Body. Variations firstly into Rabbit and Seal.
Wingcases: Body Remnants pulled forward over Thorax and tied down behind eye.
N.B. In the first tying Arthur put one strand of Orange Floss along the edge of the wingcases.
1) Put Hook into vice, ping to test temper. Start thread two thirds back from the eye and wind in touching turns just round the start of the hook bend.
2) Catch in 10cms of copper wire and a bunch of pheasant tail herls by the tips.
3) Run thread up the hook three quarters of the way to the eye, in touching turns.
4) Laying the PT Herls flat wind a thin body up to the thread and tie down.
5) Counter wind ribbing in approx 1.5mm turns in the opposite direction to the herl, tie down, trim off remainder.
6) Using two turns of thread only, lay the PT herl back along the hook pointing to the bend, then dub and wind on the thorax in a round ball - not massively large.
7) Pull the remnants of the herl back over the thorax and tie down immediately behind the eye, trim off excess, complete the head, whip finish and varnish.
Arthur's original concept of this fly was to use it sacrificially as a weight on the end of a long leader - the intention being to concentrate on fishing a couple of smaller buzzer pupae on droppers at different heights in the water column. He set off fishing it very slowly indeed, downwind and across, mending and presenting the flies at very long ranges - always on a double tapered floating line. He commonly used leaders in excess of 18'. What happened was that 90% of the fish took the Pheasant Tail. And because of the fact that almost nobody at the time fished with sinking lines. Arthur successfully exploited a population of deeper feeding fish that other fishermen were unaware of.
A phenomenally skilful fisherman blessed with exceptional eyesight, understanding and physical capabilities - there never ever was anybody better to watch and learn from. Cove at the height of his powers was probably the best Bank Fisherman there has ever been.
The method declined in usefulness when other fishermen began to use heavily weighted flies and lines at range from the bank. With more fishermen exploiting deeper feeding fish there were less to catch - as simple as that! Some days are just like the good old days though.
The dressing lives on as maybe the most generally successful representation of a brown coloured chironomid pupa. Its simplicity belies its effectiveness. No breather tubes, no frills, no fuss - trout eat it unsuspectingly when feeding on brown buzzers. Different stages of the hatch are best taken care of by varying the thorax colours - reds, oranges and fluorescent oranges are necessary to represent the effects of haemoclytin suffusion or whatever in differing brown buzzer hatches.
Occasionally versions with Pearl Lurex wound as a thorax or Silver Oval are effective. Much depends upon the specific species of buzzer, the particular water, coupled with emergence dates and the intimate detail of the weather and the light on the day of hatching.
Never forget that differently coloured chironomids of all sizes - and very especially large sizes can best be represented by differently coloured Cove Nymphs. At Thornton Reservoir the all Grey version - from Heron substitute, dyed bleached Pheasant Tail with a Copper wire ribbing and a Blue Dun Natural Rabbit under fur thorax - can be spectacularly effective. As can all-Claret and all Red versions - usually with Gold Wire Ribbing.
I carry dozens of Cove Pheasant Tails. There are few stillwaters where they cannot be made to catch at some time.