The Magog Smelt is a well-respected streamer that came out of Montreal and was designed to imitate smelt in the Vermont-Quebec border area. The fly went on to be tied in larger sizes and used over striped bass. It is easily identified by the purple bucktail in the wing, as well as by its teal shoulders. I’ve selected this streamer to show you for several reasons. First of all, it is a fine example of a traditional fly that catches fish. I see it around but it seems to fall into the category of second class streamers-the kind you dig out if your usual favorites don’t seem to work that day. That’s sad, because this fly has a fine reputation and should be seen on a leader more often. My second reason for picking this fly is the way it is put together. This fly has three colors of bucktail, a layer of peacock herl topping, teal shoulders and a hackle fiber beard. That’s six different materials all tied in at the head. Seven, if you remember to count both shoulders. This can make for a bulky tie if you don’t plan ahead; however if you tie in everything correctly, this fly has great action and great coloring. That’s a good resume for any streamer.
Recipe for the Magog Smelt
Thread – Black
Hook – Streamer hook, size 6 for landlocks, size 2 for stripers
Tail –Teal body feather fibers
Body – Silver Mylar
Throat – Red hackle fibers, beard style
Wing – Sparse layers of bucktail, white just above the Mylar, yellow above that, then purple
Topping – 4-6 peacock herls
Shoulders – Teal body feathers, one third as long as the wing
Eyes – Optional, I use painted eyes.
Here are some things to remember as you tie this streamer. Start your Mylar a good eighth inch behind the hook eye. Use the size of the hook eye itself as a guide, the distance of two “hook eyes” is just about right. You’ll need this space to tie in all the hair of the wing and you don’t need a layer of Mylar under all that, just adding to the bulk. After the tail and Mylar body, it’s time to tie in the beard. Keep the mass of feather fibers below the hook shank and use only three or four thread wraps (side by side, not on top of each other). Trim the excess. Keep the hair count of each layer of bucktail to about ten hairs each. This is enough to show the colors but not so much that your head will be too large. This will also allow the bucktail hairs to move more freely and give it more action. That’s an important point to remember; less material means more action. You may be tying streamers that look great, photograph well and make your friends jealous. But they don’t seem to catch fish. You may be making one of the easiest fly tying mistakes there is – too much material. Think about it.
The topping should extend past the wing tips. I like to use peacock herl that has natural, pointed ends. Not snipped off square. I think they look and move better. Although the red beard may disappear under the shoulders, that is all right. It is meant to be red gills seen from below. I think that teal feather shoulders tie on a lot easier than silver pheasant and they seem to stay in position easier. If you prefer jungle cock eyes then by all means add them. I use black on white painted eyes on this fly.
Give the Magog Smelt a try. Once you take the time to tie on all of the materials correctly you’ll be happy to have that skill. It’ll make a difference in all your flies.