The Usual

usual

     This is a Fran Betters fly called the Usual.  Fran had a shop in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and was the originator of a number of famous and deadly patterns.  Fran wrote in his pattern book that he had a rabbit foot on his bench and he didn’t know of any patterns calling for the material.  He gave it some thought and finally came up with a simple dry and gave several to a friend.  The friend came back and wanted more flies.  The fly had not yet been named and his friend referred to it as “the usual” so Fran used that for the name.

The beauty of this fly is its simplicity.  You only need hook, thread and a rabbit’s foot.  Snowshoe rabbits spend a lot of time on the snow so it follows that the hairs on the underside of the foot are naturally waterproof.  They are crinkly and have a beautiful translucent look that makes a very buggy fly.  At the base of the hairs is an underfur that makes a perfect dubbing.  My favorite colors are natural as well as dyed in olive, bright green and orange; I have a dun colored foot I want to try this spring.

Recipe for the Usual

Thread – Appropriate for the dubbing, try orange as well

Hook – 8-16 dry

Tail – Snowshoe foot hair

Body – Snowshoe foot underfur

Wing – Snowshoe foot hair

Wrap a thread base on your hook.  The hairs you want from a rabbit’s foot are directly under the bottom, between the toenails and the ankle.  I break the foot apart to make it easier to get at the hairs I want.  Using sharp pointed scissors I cut a small clump of fur.  I pull out the underfur with my thumb and finger or use a small comb.  Set the under fur aside for dubbing later.  Tie in a small bunch of hairs for a tail.  Fran uses a short tail but I prefer a tail as long as the body.  Feel free to experiment.  Then take larger bunch of hair and tie in a wing.  You want a single wing, not two.  Use your fingers to splay the wing hairs into one wide wing.  Next, dub some underfur onto your thread and wind a body onto the fly, including some in front of the wing as a thorax.  Here’s a good trick to try: Fran likes to use a hot orange thread that shows through the dubbing.  There is no hackle.  The lack of hackle allows the fly to sit down low on the water and present a very buggy profile.  This is a well-engineered fly that is consistent with the originator’s style.  It was another of Fran’s flies, the Haystack that inspired the well known Comparadun series.

That’s all there is.  This fly is simple to tie and it is hardly seen in Maine.  Don’t let that keep you from tying this little gem.  It’s a great fly that is easy to tie once you learn to dub the crinkly under fur.  Stay with it because that crinkle in the fur is what makes this fly so buggy and helps it float.  It is also an inexpensive fly to tie, I paid a bit over a dollar for each of my rabbit feet (www.theriaultflies.com) and I’ll get dozens of flies from a single foot.  I own snowshoe feet dyed in at least eight colors.  My four-year-old son, Peter, is particularly fond of the chartreuse one.  And since Hex hatch mayflies have a hint of bright green, he may be onto something.

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The Teeny Nymph

teeny nymph

The Teeny Nymph was created by Jim Teeny for rainbows on the west coast. I first used this fly in Montana and it was a sleeper, especially the black ones. Jim Teeny has developed quite a business around this fly, and fishing tackle in general. For some time in the 1970’s, you would notice a copyright attached to writings about this fly. That seems to be a thing of the past because this fly is becoming more available online. This fly works well in Maine, trust me. The beauty of this fly is that it is suggestive; the fish mistake it for multiple insects. It has only one ingredient and it’s easy to tie. Perfect.

The primary material used to tie these is Ring Necked Pheasant tail fibers. I buy them natural and dyed at annikarodandfly.com in Holden and at Eddie’s Flies in Bangor. This inexpensive material is the body and hackle of this nymph and it is all you need, besides hook and thread.

Recipe for the Teeny Nymph

Thread – Black, or colored to suit

Hook – Standard wet fly hook, size 6-16

Body –Fibers from a Ring Necked Pheasant

Hackle- Fibers from a Ring Necked Pheasant

            Peel off about 20 fibers from the tail feather. Trim the butt ends and tie the bunch on your hook behind the eye a bit. Don’t crowd the eye; you’ll need room for a head. Continue wrapping your thread over the fibers all the way back to where the hook starts to bend, just over the barb. Now, wind your thread forward to the eye. Grab the tips of the fibers and wind them around the shank, all the way forward. You’ve just created a segmented body. Tie off the tips but don’t cut them off. Bend them down under the shank toward the hook point and then tie them into position using your thread that was hanging at the eye of the hook. Now you see why I told you not to crowd the eye. The head will be a bit large but the fish don’t seem to mind. Pheasant tail comes dyed and I like to use different colors and different sizes. This is a very forgiving fly to tie and fish, well worth the time to learn it.

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The Tomah Joe

Tomah Jo

This fly is a beautiful little wet fly from Down East Maine.  It was originated in the late 1800’s by Tomah Joseph, a Passamaquoddy who did some guiding in the Grand Lake Stream area as well as being the tribe’s representative in the state legislature.  The fly was effective and it was soon copied and sold to other sportsmen.  There are a number of versions of this fly and frankly, most of them don’t resemble one another.  That happens to some flies, they fish well but materials become harder to get and substitutions creep in.  Sometimes the newer versions are improvements.  The version I’m showing you here is from Ray Bergman’s Trout and it’s deadly.

Recipe for the Tomah Joe

Thread – Black

Hook – Standard wet fly length, size 6-12

TailYellow hackle fibers

Body – Silver Mylar

Butt – Peacock herl

ThroatYellow and red hackle fibers

WingBarred Wood duck

     Start by using a standard wet fly hook.  By this I mean that you don’t need a long shank nymph hook.  Wet fly hooks are generally made a bit heavier to make them sink.  That’s a tradition; you can use any standard length hook you like.  I use a Mustad 3906 or a Moosehead standard wet fly hook.  Start your thread at the eye and wind a close layer of thread back to the bend.  Tie in some yellow hackle fibers for a tail.  If you cut the butts at an angle you’ll have less of a bump to cover with thread.  Tie in a peacock herl for a butt (sometimes called a tag). The butt or tag should be just over the barb.  This will only take a few winds of herl.  Tie it off and cut away the excess herl.  Now wind your thread back to the eye and take a minute to wind enough thread to smooth out the underbody.  If you don’t do this now, your Mylar body will have more bumps than the Stud Mill road in March.  Tie in some Mylar behind the eye and wind back to the butt and then forward again to tie off after you’ve put down two layers.  Always use two layers of Mylar, the second layer covers any gaps made when you wound the first layer.  I like a silver body on this fly, Bergman tied it either silver or gold.  Some waters fish better with one color and not the other; that’s just something you’ll have to experiment with.

Tie in a throat, beard style, of yellow and red hackle fibers.  Yellow high and red below, both rather long.  Tie the wing in next.  This is where the substitutions probably started, leading to the number of versions out there.  Wood ducks were almost driven to extinction in the early twentieth century from loss of habitat.  For a while, you couldn’t find many Wood duck flank feathers and even fewer barred ones.  So tiers made do with what they could get.  The Wood duck is thriving now; you can thank Ducks Unlimited for that.  The feathers are available in most shops, so that’s what I use.  Cut off two small sections of the barred flank feather (or one larger one and fold it over) for your wing.  Use the pinch method to tie it on top of the hook shank, just behind the eye.  Try using your middle finger and thumb instead of the index finger and thumb.  This is a Don Bastian technique that holds the wing material much straighter while you tie it in.

If you ask around, you’ll discover that there are other versions of this famous fly.  I’ll probably write about another one in the future.  By the way, no one knows how old this pattern was when Tomah Joseph decided to share it.  He did share it and we are the better for it.  Tie up a few of these and try them out in the remote waters of this amazing state.  Think about what it must have been like to fish here in the late 1800’s.  I think about that all the time.

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The Patriot Streamer

Patriot

This fly is a streamer that was developed by Steve Leavitt of Newburgh, ME.  Steve and his brother Jim Leavitt fish EagleLake on the Allagash Waterway every year.  The Patriot streamer has become a trolling favorite in their small circle of fishing friends over the years and I have permission to unveil it so you can have it ready in time for ice out.  I spoke with Steve about the fly and he told me it was an adaptation of another streamer.  That’s a key point; you can change a fly any time you want.  There are purists who discourage that, you should ignore them.  I like traditional flies and I respect the original patterns, but I’ve been known to change a fly from time to time.

When I asked Steve why his pattern was so long, he told me that it matched the length of the baitfish.  Smart man-if you are trying to imitate a three-inch smelt then you should tie a three-inch streamer.   Steve and I also agreed that most short strikes come from small fish.  Large fish either take it all the way or take it from the front.  Now I will caution you that short strike discussions can be contentious.   For my part I can tell you that I spent an evening on the Penobscot River watching Smallmouth bass attack a Gartside Soft Hackled Deceiver I was drifting beside my boat.  The tail on that fly extends well past the hook bend.  Every large bass hit the fly from the front or inhaled the whole thing from behind.  The only short strikes I saw were from small bass. If you’re concerned about short strikes you can attach a trailing stinger hook or tie the fly as a tandem.

I like this fly for a number of other reasons.  It’s easy to tie; bucktail is a staple on any bench and it’s cheap to boot.  This fly is tied sparse.  Pay attention to that; fishermen like bushy streamers but fish like sparse ones.  Troll this fly right after ice out, just below the surface.

Recipe for the Patriot Streamer

Thread – Black

Hook –size 4-8 streamer hook

Body – Red flash

Belly – White bucktail, long and sparse

Wing – dark blue bucktail topped by olive green bucktail, both long and sparse

Eyes – optional

For a hook I use either a traditional Mustad 8X streamer or an economy hook that I’ve started buying at around half the price.  They are both imports and the cheaper hooks are a small sacrifice in quality but I’m comfortable with that and I like the extra money going back in my pocket.  For the body you can use red Mylar, red holographic tinsel, red wire or red floss.  Red and shiny is the idea; it imitates a bleeding baitfish.  Cut your bucktail from the tip of the tail and not the base.  The hair at the tip is less likely to flare when you tie it in.  Even tip hair will flare and not lay down properly if you don’t trim it right.  Since you’re going to be trying to get the longest hair you can, you are going to be tempted to use the entire hair.

Here’s what you should do: first select about a dozen hairs from the tip of the tail.  Cut them off close to their base.  You can stack the hairs if you want but I don’t do that on this fly.  Before you tie them in, trim back the base of the hairs by at least a quarter inch, more if you can.  It’s the base of the tip hairs that is hollow and will cause the hairs to flare wildly and ruin the trim silhouette you’re trying to present.  The belly and the blue wing can be about the same length, the olive topping should be a bit shorter.  Eyes are optional but I like them because I think they work.  White with a black pupil is all you need.  If you want to substitute colors, try yellow or orange for the belly.  Remember to keep it sparse, you don’t want a lot of bulk on this fly.

That’s it.  This is a simple and inexpensive bucktail streamer that is developing a quiet reputation among some fishermen who fish ice out waters for trophy trout.  It is also so easy to tie you could teach a child to tie it.  Now there’s an idea.

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The Barnes Special

Barnes Special

This fly is an old favorite and has a well-deserved reputation in Maine.  It has a double wing; the inside feathers are yellow and the outside ones are grizzly.  I’ve always felt that this two color arrangement gives a three dimensional look when the feathers twitch in the current.  Color, size and action are all important attributes of a good fly and this fly’s method of displaying color is a unique one.  Add the signature collar hackle that I’m sure creates water turbulence and you get even more effect.  The turbulence becomes sound and big fish key in on this.  The turbulence also causes the wings to flutter more and this adds to the baitfish action you want a streamer to have.  There’s a lot going on with this fly.

Recipe for the Barnes Special

Thread – Red  

Hook – Streamer, size 6

BodySilver Mylar

ThroatWhite hackle collar

WingYellow saddle, flanked by grizzly saddle

Start this streamer by choosing your hook.  I use Mustad 94720 size 6.  This hook is 8x long and is a standard that can be trolled or cast.  If I want a shorter hook shank that will be a lighter fly for casting I switch to a 6x shank.  The original recipe called for a tail of Jungle Cock body feather.  This bird became protected in the 1970’s and the feathers became hard to acquire.  Yankee fly tiers being what they are, the tail became optional.  The tailless streamer continues to perform well so the tail is rarely seen these days, even though Jungle Cock is available.

The body is silver Mylar and a silver oval rib is optional.  Start the Mylar just behind the eye, wind to the bend in the hook and then return to the starting point.  Tying two layers of Mylar is a good habit; your bodies will look much better if you do this.  Not your body, the fly’s body.  There are four components to the wing-two layers of bucktail for an under wing and two pairs of saddle hackles for the feather wing.  The under wing starts with a small bunch of red bucktail.  This should be as long as the bend of the hook on the 8x shank.  Don’t use too much material here; a small bunch is all you need.  On top of that tie in a smaller bunch of white bucktail.  This bunch should be about the same length as the red bucktail.  This is a good time to put a drop of cement where you tied in the bucktail.

The saddle hackle wing starts with a pair of yellow saddle hackles.  You’ll notice that the feathers have a dull side and a glossy side.  The dull sides of the feathers should face each other and the shiny sides should be to the outside of the fly.  Outside of these feathers are the outermost wings, the barred grizzly saddle hackles.  Yellow feathers inside, grizzly feathers outside.  Tie them in and don’t be afraid to use your fingers to twist and turn the whole assembly until it looks right.  As soon as the outer wings go on you can see the visual effect.  This fly looks like a small yellow perch.  If you disagree with that you’ll have to agree that the barred grizzly looks a lot like the parr markings on fingerling game fish.

Lastly, tie in a white saddle hackle and tie it full like a dry fly.  If you tie a lot of streamers, this is going to feel strange.  Let it, this collar is a trademark of the Barnes Special.  After you’ve wound the hackle, tie it off and trim the excess.  Use the fingers of your other hand to pull back on the white hackle you just wound on and wind your thread back to turn it into a collar style hackle.  If you’ve ever wondered why the Barnes Special has such a big red head, this is why.  It’s all the thread you use to wind back on the hackle to turn it into a collar.  By the way, the original recipe did not use red thread.  That came later.  I think it’s just one more way this fly attracts big fish.  Probably those Yankee fly tiers again.

Try this fly at Grand Lake Stream; it’s a favorite there.  While you’re fishing it, take a moment to drag the fly through the water next to you and notice the action.  Then take a minute and point out that action to a youngster.

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The Alexandra

Alexandra

This fly is another old one, the Alexandra. You can research this one on the net, if the legend is to be believed, this fly was banned from fishing derbies in Great Britain. I have the recipe in my father’s original pattern book and you can find it in Trout by Bergman. The Alexandra is another one of those excellent flies that seems to have been eclipsed by newer and sexier patterns. That shouldn’t have happened because this one is deadly and you need to tie it.

The first thing you notice about this fly is the peacock sword for wings and tail. You may not own any but it is cheap and you should be using it. Peacock has always been popular on trout and salmon flies; that’s because of the color and the unique iridescence. It just plain looks good. To tie this fly right, you’ll need to buy the swords, not the peacock eye or herl.

Recipe for the Alexandra

Thread – Black           

Hook – Wet fly hook , size 6-10

TailPeacock sword, red duck quill fibers    

BodySilver Mylar    

Rib- Silver

Hackle- Claret or black hackle fibers, beard style

WingPeacock sword, red duck quill fibers

I use a standard wet fly hook, size 6 or 8, but you can go smaller. A wet fly hook is made with heavier steel that makes it sink but if all you have
is dry fly hooks go ahead and use them. Then read up on classic wet flies, you’ll become a believer. For the tail, tie in four swords, as long as the body of the hook shank. Add three or four fibers from duck quill dyed red; tie these on top of the sword tail. Tie in the rib and pull it back out of the way, you’ll wind it forward later.  Smooth out the body by wrapping a layer of thread, ending just behind the eye. Tie in the sliver Mylar. Remember to tie it in silver side to the hook shank and gold side out, this allows the silver side to be out when you wind the Mylar body.

Trout have sharp teeth and you’ll need to take a step here to keep the fly looking good after a few brookies have chewed it up. Your rib should be tied in at the rear of the hook, waiting to be wound forward. The Mylar body material is tied in just behind the eye, waiting to be wound on. Before you wind these on, put a very light coat of head cement on the thread wrapped hook shank. While the cement is still wet, wrap the Mylar back to the tail and then wrap forward to the eye. The cement will glue it to the shank. The back and then forward double wrap makes for a smoother body. Tie it off and trim the excess. Go easy on the thread wraps here; you’ll only need three wraps. Now wind the rib forward, five turns will do it. Tie off and trim.

The hackle is tied in beard style, and the recipe calls for claret colored hackle. This is a dark wine color that was popular years ago and you’ll have to look around a bit to find it. I like it for its old fashioned look but you don’t need to use it, you can substitute black hackle fibers if you want to.

The wing is about 10 peacock sword fibers. The wing should extend back to about half the tail length. Along each side of the wing is a narrow strip of the same red duck quill you used for the top half of the tail. If you were heavy handed with your thread wraps on this fly you’ll see a pretty big head shaping up. You can get by with just a few wraps for each step and your fly’s head will be smaller.

On any old pattern, there are always substitutions. I’ve already mentioned black instead of claret hackle. You can also leave out the red duck quill sections and substitute a red floss tag at the end of the body and before the tail. The rib can be left out as well, I like to use it but that’s because I love the old classic wet flies and I like the way it looks.

Take the time to tie up a few of these, tuck them away in your vest and don’t tell anyone.

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The RayJens

rayjens

This fly is an old favorite but little known gem that needs to be revived. I found out about this great fly when I walked into Mike Holt’s Orvis shop, Fly Fishing Only in Fairfield, Me one day. Mike has closed the shop since that day but he showed me this fly and I want to show you. When I walked in the shop I noticed Mike carding up some orange chenille that was a great burnt orange color. I had never seen that shade before and I asked him about it. He told me about a fly created by two fishing buddies many years ago and what a fish catcher it was. The name of the fly is a combination of their two first names, Ray Betts and Jens (Jim) Riis. It is a simple fly and quite effective. If you’d like to see a video of this fly hooking salmon and trout as well as a step by step tutorial on how to tie it, check out Mike’s web site www.rotaryflytying.com. He offers a great deal for folks wanting to see videos of how this is done. For the written version, read on!

Recipe for the Rayjens

Thread – Black

Hook – Mustad 9672, or 3X-4X long hook, size 4 – 10

Body – Danville #12 burnt orange chenille

Wing – Black bear or black buck tail

I used a Mustad 9671, size 4 because that was what I had on hand. This hook is 3X long but it is close enough. There is no tail so strip some fibers off the end of your chenille and tie it onto the shank at a point over the barb of the hook. Wind a chenille body forward toward the eye and tie off. Cut the excess behind the eye, leaving enough room for the wing and a head. I bought the chenille from Mike and when his shop closed I bought more at www.theriaultflies.com. This is a great color for not only this fly but try some Wood Specials with it as well.

The wing is black bear hair, tied a bit long. You can use black buck tail for a substitute. The wing should extend past the hook bend about a gap width, or maybe a bit more. Ray and Jens used black bear hair but some folks don’t have any and have trouble finding it; the buck tail will work.

Those two materials are all you need and you have another of those great flies that have all but disappeared. This is one you want in your box. You heard it here first.

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The Pretty Young Wife

pretty young

This fly is one I developed because I wanted a pink emerger.  You see a lot of pink among steelhead flies because of the pink in a Rainbow trout’s coloring.  The color is common in saltwater flies because it occurs naturally in saltwater bait, notably shrimp and squid.  The Pink Lady and Pink Ghost streamer flies have been popular here for years and our own editor, Paul Reynolds, showcased a pink Gifford Stevens fly a few months ago.  I’ve even added pink deer hair to bucktail streamers and seen an increase in strikes, probably because the pink looks like diluted blood flowing from a wound.  The point?  Every single one of those flies has a great track record.

I chose an emerger pattern because it’s my favorite fly to fish small ponds with.  I spent my youth in western Maine fishing for brookies with wet flies and I prefer that above any other pastime.   When my brother in law Alan Stevens of Starks invited me to fish a western Maine pond I brought the pink creation along to try out.  As they say, the fishing was good but the catching was a bit slow.  We caught several trout in the ten-inch class but none of the 19-20” fish Alan had caught and released on previous trips.  A ten-inch trout on a fly rod is tremendous fun but we were working a bit hard even to catch them.  The rises we saw were not the feisty splashes or gentle sips of trout taking on the surface rather more like the swells of trout grazing on something just under the surface.  Alan had been fishing dries and I had on a very small marabou wing streamer.  I switched to the pink-bodied emerger and had five fish to the net in as many minutes.  My companion decided that he would like to try the fly and he too began to take fish.  My largest was 13” but I had one on that forced the rod into a tight bend and then turned the canoe.  I never saw him but I know where he lives now.

My choice of dubbing for the body was Spirit River brand because it was mixed with some Antron to give it some shine.  To me, the shine looks like air bubbles on the side of an emerging insect.  I used peacock herl as a rib because I wanted something besides the usual tinsel.  I’ve always liked peacock herl and I think it works well on this fly.  I use two herls and I recommend you twist them around some thread to give some strength to the herls.  Otherwise, after a couple of trout the fragile herl will be torn off.  The hackle is the red body feather from a Golden Pheasant.  I like the dark red-brown of these feathers and the fiber length was perfect for the size eight emerger.  You can buy a complete body skin of these plentiful birds cheap.  Strip one side of the hackle fibers off the stem before you wind it on.  This will preserve the flowing back look and make the collar style hackle much easier to wind on.  I tied a few using Whiting’s new Spey hen feathers, I like the look but I haven’t been able to test that version yet.  That’s it, body, rib and hackle, quick to tie.

Recipe for the Pretty Young Wife

Thread – White

Hook – Daiichi 1270, TMC 200R, or 2-3x nymph hook, size 8

Body – Pink dubbing or yarn

Rib — Two peacock herls

Hackle – Golden Pheasant red body feather, one side stripped off

I took my father into the same pond a week later and he repeated my success with the new fly.  He also noticed the savage strike and repeat hits even after a miss.  I think the pattern will adapt well to other colored bodies so feel free to substitute.  I get a lot of action on this fly in pink and also with an olive green body and black soft hackle.

I refused to wear pink shirts in the 1980’s, I won’t eat pink food and I never paddle pink canoes.  But I love this pink-bodied (or green) emerger.

And if you should see me in the company of a long legged brunette with big eyes and obviously much younger than me, you’ll know where I got the name.  Happy Birthday Honey!

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The Wood Special

wood special

This fly is an old New England favorite, the Wood Special.  Joe Sterling of Danforth, ME developed the fly in the early 1960’s.  Joe also created the famous Joe’s Smelt streamer, I’ll write about that one in a future column.  I am fortunate enough to have a stack of 25-year-old copies of American Fly Tyer magazine and I have the issue where Joe tells the story of the Wood Special.  Joe has an interesting tale about a fishing trip, wrong turns in a fishing lodge and a night inventing a fly for some insurance executives on a northern Maine fishing trip.  His fly worked well and went on to be popular here as well as Canada.

The first thing you notice about the Wood Special is the bright orange body.  Orange is a great trout color; it can imitate a juvenile trout or any number of insects.  The next thing you notice is the wing; it’s a wood duck lemon breast feather tied flat.  This gives a unique profile to the fly from different perspectives and it is probably why trout strike this fly so aggressively.  I should point out that there are a number of variations to this fly’s recipe.  Joe was pretty clear about how he tied the fly and I’m using his recipe this month.  Nevertheless, I had no trouble finding a half dozen different versions in local tackle shops, my own library and online.  Everyone claims to have the original and correct version.  I’ve used several of them, they all work fine.

Recipe for the Wood Special

Thread – Black

Hook – Mustad 3665A

Tail – Golden Pheasant crest tippets

Body – Florescent orange chenille

Throat – Brown hackle barbules, beard style

Wing – Wood duck lemon breast feather

Eyes – Jungle Cock, tied short

Substitutions, very thin ice here.  Changing one of the ingredients to a well-loved fly is a controversial thing.  I do it all the time, but others treat a fly’s recipe like it was scripture, so be warned.  Since Joe developed this fly, Jungle Cock has become very expensive.  Most tiers don’t bother with eyes and they feel their flies catch fish just fine.  I’m a big believer in eyes with few exceptions.  This fly is one of them; I think it does not need an eye so I don’t go to the expense of putting a Jungle Cock feather to use.  Another thing that people change is the wing; they use mallard flank instead of the Wood duck.  Woodies used to be hard to get and the supply dwindled.  They are coming back now so the feathers are available but still a bit expensive.  An old standby is mallard dyed brown.  I happen to be a duck hunter so I have a supply of wood duck feathers.  If the cost is more than you want to pay, mallard dyed brown will work.  Take a good look at the body.  I think the florescent orange chenille body works fine but is open to substitution, especially since we have so many other choices today that Joe Sterling didn’t have.  You should try yarn, Uni-Stretch or even loose dubbing.   There is a tier in Quebec who has a similar fly tied with orange seal fur that I think would be a killer here.  Seal is tough if not illegal to get so I plan on mixing up a florescent orange seal substitute dubbing to try out this spring.   Current versions of this fly are ribbed with silver Mylar and have a grizzly hen hackle.  I think those are good additions but if you are a stickler for original recipes, the 1978 article that Joe wrote did not call for ribbing or hackle other than the brown beard.  It is possible that Joe made some changes to later versions of the fly.  I wish I knew.  I think I prefer the later versions so I tie some that way as well.

Take the time to tie this fly in whatever version strikes your fancy.  It’s an old Maine standby that won’t fail you and few stuck in your hat visor will tell people that you know a thing or two about the puckerbrush.

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