Hook: 10-22 standard dry fly
Tail: medium dun hackle fibers
Wing: matched sections of slate gray duck quill
Hackle: brown and grizzly mix
- Tie in a tail of dun hackle fibers.
- Tie in split, matched slips of duck quill
- Dub a body of Hare’s Ear fur.
- Wind two hackles, one brown and one grizzly.
Even if the gray duck quill wings are solid when the fly is new they soon get frayed and separated. A messed up Gray Coughlin usually outfishes a fresh one. The practical tier can roll the wing sections in his fingers, creating a buzz of individual fibers, before tying them onto the hook.
Thoughts from Gary’s log on the Gray Coughlin—
“There are many patterns that could serve as the “drab searcher” in my fly box. An Adams fills that niche for most anglers, but the Gray Coughlin is my favorite dry fly when trout are feeding on a general variety of insects.
This isn’t one of my original patterns, but it is strongly associated with me through my writings. It represents an entire category of flies—my favorite drab searcher could just as easily be an Atherton or a Gray Ugly. The important point is that one of these patterns belongs in an angler’s carrying selection. My reason for choosing the Gray Coughlin over some other drab fly (including the Adams) it that the brown color scheme worked better for me day in and day out than a gray color scheme did.
The Gray Coughlin didn’t bump the Adams from that top position in my fly box. Over thirty years ago the Adams lost favor to a different fly. That pattern, an Atherton Dark, had a powerful theory behind it—all of John Atherton’s creations, following his preferences as an artist, were impressionistic. The patterns in The fly and the Fish, from nymphs to dry flies, were not ‘solid” colors. The patterns were variegated, parts of a fly made with many different specks, or points, of color to create an overall effect.”