The Witch’s Tit – September 28, 2012
This fly is named after an early December trip on the Klamath River. The temperature had plummeted the night before. As we floated away from the put-in at dawn, with the temperature dropping into the 20’s, we feared that the cold snap had put an end to a successful trip.
I’d tied this fly on the day before and it had produced well, so I kept it on. I think we had an even better day, that second day. We hooked up consistently as we fished down run after run, each grab coming as the fly swung into the soft inside section. It turned out to be one of the best trips of the season. I think I fished the same fly for three or four days. It’s small size, sparse profile and wire body help get it down into the water column quickly, without having to fish a sink tip. It’s dark color is perfect for the grey, overcast days of early winter.
I fish this fly on dark days, shady runs, and evenings when I’m not fishing a skater. This is a go-to pattern that I have a lot of confidence in. I can see, tying The Witch’s Tit in a multitude of colors, but black and purple is all I need. Look for a larger winter Spey pattern after Thanksgiving!
hook – Alec Jackson Spey hook size 7 thread – black ultra thread tag – flat silver mylar tail – dyed purple Guinea feather tip body – BR size purple ultra wire dubbing ball – blend of black and purple UV ice dub wing – 2 strands of blue holographic flash collar – dyed purple Guinea feather
Fall Favorite Hilton – September 28, 2012
Here’s a variation on a variation on a…. I first saw a variation of the Silver Hilton in an early photograph by Jeff Bright. He called his fly, the Autumn Hilton. I loved the red and rusty brown body, so I did some research. I couldn’t find anything that looked quite like it. Jason Hartwick ties an Autumn steelhead fly, which he calls the October Hilton. His variation, is a wonderful producer, but is very different from Jeff’s fly, and this variation.
I tie this fly in two versions, the first with a black Alec Jackson hook and a bright orange Guinea collar and the second with a bronze hook and brown Guinea collar. I prefer to mix my own blends of dubbing rather than use a single type. This gives the fly a more natural appearance. I added a natural squirrel tail wing under the grizzly hackle tips to prop them up a bit and give the fly a bigger profile. And, it adds even more barring to the wing. I tie the collar in and strip the far side, winding it on with three turns so that it’s still sparse.
I fish this fly mostly in the morning with broken light and when I’m forced to fish a run in bright afternoon sunlight.
hook – Alec Jackson Spey hook size 7 (black or bronze) thread – red ultrathread tag – small gold mylar tail – Guinea feather tip rib – gold oval tinsel body – 1/3 red dubbing blend in a dubbing loop (red seal substitute & pink ice dub) & 2/3 orange dubbing blend in a dubbing loop (hot orange and rust dubbing mixed with pink ice dub) wing – a small clump of natural squirrel tale followed by two grizzly hackle tips collar – hot orange (or brown) Guinea feather
The Unnamed Spey Tube – March 2, 2012
This tube fly just came out of the tying room. I’ve been working on a pattern called The Dark Knight and this fly developed out of ideas from that. Most of the flies I tie are very sparse. It keeps the materials from becoming matted and losing their natural movement. There are very few materials with more movement in them than Rhea and Marabou.
What I like about this fly is the large, but hollow looking profile, the way the materials are not overdressed and the small amounts of flash. The palmered Rhea (Miller’s Super Spey) is tied in from the center of the body forward so that there aren’t too many fibers flowing back and the fly retains that umbrella shape we want in our large Spey flies. The Marabou at the front is tied in with just one turn and the Guinea feather is tied in with only two turns. In keeping with the sparse design, there are only four pieces of flash and the tinsel, ribbing the body.
I added Jungle Cock feathers at the tail followed by Ostrich herl, to hide the junction tubing. I always hate seeing the tubing for some reason. It’s just a personal thing, plus Jungle Cock gives any fly a beautiful, classic look.
A lot of the steelhead flies we tie, are as much for ourselves as the fish. I’m certain a hundred other steelheaders have tied something very similar and that’s why this fly shall remain nameless. As Scott Howell said, “We’re just building on what anglers have done before us.”
After all, it’s not the name we believe in, it’s the design, the presentation and the fly’s ability to move that one, perfect, chrome fish. That’s all we care about in the end, isn’t it?