The Thunder Creek streamer represents a style of tying that you should add to your arsenal. The style has been around awhile; Carrie Stevens tied some for her customers. The definitive work on this type of streamer is by Keith Fulsher, and he named his version the “Thunder Creek Series”. He teamed up with Dave Klausmeyer to publish a book a few years ago about the streamer design and he used the word “series”. This is because once you learn to tie this style; you can adapt the colors to imitate any baitfish you want. It’s a versatile streamer that is easy to tie, inexpensive and it catches fish.
Recipe for the Thunder Creek Series
Thread – White or red, 3/0 or 140 denier
Hook – Straight eye streamer, size 2-10
Flash- optional- Krystal Flash
Back –Gray bucktail
Gills- Red thread or paint
Eyes – Painted on
This fly is best tied with a straight-eyed hook. By this, I mean that the eye is not turned down. These hooks can be harder to find and Keith does say that you can used turned down eye hooks, but the fly seems to look better with a straight eye. If you use a standard turned down eye hook, leave a bit of a gap between the eye and the head of the fly. As for size, I use 6 through 10, depending on the size of the baitfish I’m trying to imitate. Smaller hooks for brooks and larger hooks for bigger water, your call. I use red thread for this fly but Keith recommends using white thread. Start your thread behind the eye. If you are going to use some flash, tie it in now. Go sparse here, a half dozen strands is plenty. Note here that the hook shank is left bare-there is no body material. There is a top and a belly to this fly. Dark color on top, white bucktail for a belly. This is the universal pattern on baitfish, dark over light. Select a small bunch of dark buck tail. I used gray bucktail for the fly in the photo. Pull out the short hairs and tie it in just behind the eye. This step is important-tie it in with the hair facing forward over the hook eye, you’ll be pulling it back over the shank later. Turn the hook over and similarly, tie in some white buck tail for a belly, facing forward just like the dark hairs. All of these materials should be small sparse bunches.
After the materials are tied in, I put a drop of cement on the thread windings to lock them in. Position your thread about a quarter inch to three eighth inches behind the eye. Now, lightly moisten the hairs to make them more manageable, pull back each bunch of hair back onto the shank, dark on top and white on bottom. Use your pre-positioned thread to wind around the bucktail top and belly to form a bullet shaped head. Keith recommends untying the thread and then retying it. By untying the bucktail and then re-tying it, the hairs become trained to stay in place and the head stays neater. It works but it reminds me of my mother forcing me to have a wet head to train my hair when I was young. If I resisted training my hair, my father would finally take me to the Rangeley Barber Shop to get a crew cut from Sheriff Pete the barber. But I digress. Pull back hard on the bucktail this second time and tie it off. Here’s a tip: reposition your hook in the vice so that the point is concealed in the jaws. When you pull back on the bucktail, sometimes your fingers will slip and your hand will fly back onto the hook point, barb and all. You can thank me later.
Finish tying the bucktail back with a half dozen wraps of thread and tie off. The red thread I use looks like gills, if you use white thread, you’ll have to paint on gills. Use some five-minute epoxy to cover the head and thread wraps. Don’t use much or you’ll get an uneven head that will cause the fly to not swim straight (ask me how I know). If you don’t have epoxy you can use several coats of glossy head cement. When bullet shaped head is dry, paint on some eyes.
You can also tie this fly with dark and light colored marabou or even add a feather wing under the top for a different silhouette. You can use different colors of bucktail to match a particular minnow or smelt in your area. Try a stainless steel hook and saltwater baitfish colors to use on striped bass. This is a good fly to learn.