The Katoodle Bug or Toodle bug, the primary go-to fly in the late 1800’s. I was reading a copy of Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury and noticed that this fly is mentioned quite often. You can buy a new printing of this book for a few dollars and you should check it out. The author is the daughter of the famous Charles Orvis. Mr. Orvis sent letters to fishermen asking about their favorite flies and he took three years to collect the replies. His daughter compiled the data and published her encyclical book in 1892. There aren’t any fly tying recipes but I love to read about what worked on trout during those years.
I started to notice the name Katoodle Bug showing up frequently in the Orvis book as a favorite fly; it seemed that everyone loved it. I had never heard of it. So I looked in a couple of other old books: Du Bois in 1960 and J. Edson Leonard in 1950 each list the fly and a recipe. Du Bois lists 12 versions.
I thought for a moment to make sure I understood the situation. Here is a deadly fly that no one wants to be without in 1800’s Maine. It is in demand enough to be documented by several well-respected texts in the mid 1900’s. It’s apparently fallen off the radar because I’ve never seen it in a fly shop or in a modern fly tying manual. That means very few fly fishers are using this very good fly. Perfect.
Recipe for the Katoodle Bug
Thread – White and black
Hook – Standard wet fly, size 6-10
Tail – Grey mallard flank
Body – Blue floss or Uni-Stretch rear half, yellow wool front half, small band of orange
Hackle – Brown hackle- beard style
Wing – Mottled turkey
The tail is a bit long and the recipe calls for gray mallard. If you use blue or yellow floss, you should use white thread; black thread will show through wet floss. I used blue Uni-Stretch because I find it easier to work with. As I said before, there are over a dozen recipes for this fly, I chose one I liked, but they were all very similar. This version has yellow wool for the front half of the body, you can use floss if you prefer. If you use wool, use a very fine yarn. You may have to unbraid your yarn to get a fine enough piece. Most recipes call for a small band of orange just ahead of the yellow and just behind the beard hackle. The hackle is tied beard style, just a small bunch of soft brown hackle fibers tied in behind the eye; they should reach the hook point. Most of the recipes called for mottled turkey quill for a wing, you can use any brown mottled feather you like, even partridge tail. After a trout or two the wings will look pretty ragged. I used turkey here to demonstrate the wing described in the original recipe, but the flies in my box tend to favor rolled partridge tail fibers for wings. They’re cheaper and easier, the trout don’t seem to mind.
This is another of those old flies that inhabit Maine legends. This particular fly was the “must have” fly before Teddy Roosevelt learned to speak Spanish and I seriously doubt that you’ll find it in many fly boxes these days. Now that you know how to tie one; go show a youngster.