The Warden’s Worry is a venerable old bucktail that has been in the Maine streamer arsenal since it was first tied by Warden Joseph Stickney in the late1920’s. Some flies are designed to imitate a specific insect or baitfish and others are designed to imitate a variety of food items. Then there are times when you just don’t know what the fish are biting and you have to try a fly that can imitate multiple possibilities; this is one of those flies.
The reputation of this streamer was made on trout ponds shortly after ice out by dredging it slowly along the bottom imitating an emerging nymph. Other fly fishers tell of it working for them on hot summer days when fished over a spring hole. I’ve trolled it along shoreline rocks a month after ice out and taken fish with it. However you choose to fish it, this streamer deserves the respect of every angler that ever casts to salmon or trout.
There are several things I like about this streamer. First is its style; there is something very neat about fishing a streamer that can be called an old Maine standby. Secondly, I like the construction. The bucktail wing and the hackle fiber beard on this fly will push water, sending a sound wave to predator fish. If you want big fish, go for their predator instincts. And finally, I like the body color. Yellow-orange, that some people would call burnt orange is a color that I like the looks of when it gets wet. I was trolling one of these streamers last spring and I observed the color as I was letting the fly out and to me; it seemed a very life like gold color. Mind you, colors change as depth increases but I happen to troll this fly on the surface so I was looking at a pretty good representation of the fly and what it looks like in the water.
I use natural fur dubbing for this fly because the recipe calls for it to be a picked out fuzzy body and the synthetics tend to lay flat and smooth when compared to the natural furs. The original recipe calls for a mix of yellow and orange wool.
Thread – Black
Hook – Size 6-10 streamer, 6X long
Tail – Red duck quill
Ribbing – Gold Mylar, flat or oval
Tag – Gold Mylar
Body – Yellow-gold dubbing, picked out fuzzy
Throat – Yellow hackle fibers
Wing – Natural tan bucktail from top of tail
Mount up a 6X streamer hook and start your black thread. The tag comes first and then the tail. Tie in a rather longish clump of red duck or goose quill fibers. Now attach your ribbing. I use flat gold Mylar but there are people that prefer gold oval for the rib. Wind on a long body using yellow-gold dubbing. You can substitute chenille here, the fly is tied that way in New Hampshire and it works there. Wind your gold ribbing forward and tie off. For the throat, tie in some yellow hackle fibers, beard style. Here is a great tip: spend $2 for some dyed turkey flats. This will be a package of small but wide feathers that are a bit stiffer that ordinary hackle fibers and they make great tails and beard style throats.
Top the fly off with a small bunch of natural tan-brown hairs from the top of a deer tail. Don’t stack the ends of hair; the wing tip should be tapered. The wing should extend to the back of the fly and the taper should end just above the end of the tail. The recipe calls for this fly body to be picked out fuzzy. I agree, so I do that. You can use a needle bodkin or try my favorite dubbing tool. I took an old toothbrush and used a razor knife to cut the bristles off short. I mean very short, about one quarter inch long bristles. This brush will now have bristles so stiff that you simply rub it along the dubbed body of a fly and the dubbing is picked out fuzzy, instantly. This re-tooled toothbrush will tear your gums to shreds, though, so be sure to retire it. You also glue a small piece of Velcro to one end of a Popsicle stick, another great tool to pluck out bodies.
If the Wardens Worry is not in your streamer wallet, take the time to tie this fly and fish it; you’ll be glad you did.