Category: Flies/Fly tying

Mackerelola Flies


Might give the Cape Cod Canal a try again soon I so tied up a few Mackerel flies to try.

The lower tail hair and the bottom underwing on these flies were tied using long, fine, white hair from my dog Lola’ s tail. She’s part Husky, Border Collie and Great Pyrenees.


Her Hieness–Lola

Lola’s tail fur is fine and shiny and runs up to 9″ long. Hence the name Mackerelola.  Lola’ s fur/hair reminds me of cross between Yak and Polar Bear.










I often use Lola’s shorter hairs to tie this handy pattern which will be nice to have with you in the next few months.


Catch’em Up



The Rabbit Strip Wet Fly

<°)))><  While tying several Splinter Mouse patterns I thought the rabbit fur trimmings would make nice dubbing for a nymph or wet fly. body. The gray- brown fur had eye appeal and I envisioned tying a soft hackle style wet fly with  dubbed bunny fur body and a partridge hackle.

              Ingredients& Ideas

I began thinking about that bunny pattern figuring forget the partridge hackle why not use a very thin strip cut from the original  bunny strip. I could wind it on like a wet fly hackle and tie in some of the some of the fur for the tail. A fly tied with only one piece of material. Once finished the fly would be aptly dubbed “The Rabbit Strip.”  

       The Rabbit Strip  Soft Hackle? Wet Fly

Thread: Tan

Hook:  Size 8 1x long wet fly (Mustad 3906B or equiv)

Tail:  Rabbit Fur fibers

Body:  Natural Brown-Gray Rabbit fur chopped and mixed    

Hackle: Thin Natural Brown-Gray rabbit strip wound on wet fly style

Rib:   Fine Gold wire(optional)


Things learned from tying this pattern are that it’s probably easier to cut some fur and spiral the hairs around the head for a collar then using a rabbit strip. Next, using a rabbit strip for the collar makes for a bulky looking head so only the thinnest strips will provide the desired look. Splitting a rabbit strip in half lengthwise can be is a tedious operation. Finally, this pattern is for standard size 10 or larger hook . The bunny strip hair is just too long for anything smaller and beside being more difficult to use and  the fly just doesn’t look good. I plan to tie a few on streamer fly hooks and see how it looks and also tie some in various colors of bunny strips.  I’ll update this post with photos when I do so check back soon.  The finished fly looks good to me and I know it will surely catch fish. What ya think?? <°)))><


Nine is Never Enough

     Nine is Never Enough

    Each year during the first week of March, I undergo a metamorphosis.  Transforming from an argumentative, irritable cabin fevered maniac to the likes of a happy excited child who anxiously awaits Christmas Day.  Opening Day of trout season is coming on the second Saturday in April and resembles Christmas in many ways. Both have a Santa, presents and sometimes even  snow. My Santa will be dressed in green with a D.E.M. patch on his jacket.  His sleigh will be oxygen generating tank truck overflowing with  Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout, presents fresh from the North Pole hatchery.  To receive  these presents being really good  just won’t  do, I must be prepared!   Many  preparations are in order if I’m to have my creel stuffed with these presents.

    I begin by checking the calendar for when Easter Sunday occurs.  Hopefully it occurs before Opening Day.  This year it doesn’t,  what a bummer. Just knowing that I cannot fish from sunrise until nightfall on the second day of trout season begins to stress me out.  Now I’ll be on edge on the second day and be obligated to arrive home around noon or  hopefully just as my family pulls out of the driveway en-route to Easter dinner at my mother’s house after they’ve given me up for lost.  Next, I examine my rods for worn and frayed windings and grooved guides.  Those in need of repair are meticulously rewound with super glue and matching Mylar tape.  The reels are next, after dismantling them I lubricate their innards and polish the drags for silky smooth operation.  Then I check the first five hundred yards of backing on each spool for rot, a hatchery breeder shouldn’t  take me out beyond that.  Each extra spool, all twenty of them are closely examined.  They hold every type and color of fly line imaginable.  They include a Ninja Turtle Green sinking line that sinks thirty feet in one millisecond, a Neon Smurf Blue floating line that suspends itself one micron above the water’s surface and a bottom dredging Brown Bullhead taper. There’s also a special forty-two and one half-foot Mercury filled shooting head.  This head is more fluid than lead core, and if it should break the fish will be poisoned and die, but I can say the place needs to be reclaimed anyway.    Next I remove the tangled mass of tippet spools from my Kevlar designer vest that I  saw on the TV fly fishing  program “Say Yes to the Vest.” At first I’m  unsure of what I have as it resembles several miles of tangled Japanese monofilament drift net.  After carefully rewinding each spool I once again  take an oath that this will never happen again.  From the mess, leaders from 0x-1ft. to 12x-24ft. are returned to their individual compartments in my leader wallet.  I then remove each fly box from my vest and scrutinize their contents a closely as Scrooge counting his shillings.  Each pattern is examined as I think of where and when it will be used and question  if I have enough of them.  The sixty year old Perrine wet fly boxes, whose contents are about the same age, are normally in order. Boxes with Case Caddis, some made with bird gravel and glue  and others with bits of tree bark, leaves, and twigs cemented to the hook always seem to be in ample supply.  If only Super Glue was around sixty years ago I could have made a million of these collectors’ items.

Case Caddis

 Boxes containing classic Catskill dries, extended tail and standard dry flies, nymphs, streamers, and midges  both wet and dry are all accounted for.  One box intimidates me.  It looks empty but close examination with fifty power reading glasses reveals one dozen #28 twenty-eight black gnats on gold-plated hooks.  They’re surely enough to last the season. Hopefully I won’t have to tie one of them on, or worst tie one up.  During the inventory any shortcomings are noted and written down so as not to forget.  After all, the one fly I  forget to tie will be the only fly the trout will want on Opening Day.  A check is then made to ensure there’s  sufficient quantities of the proper materials and hooks are on hand to tie these “Killers”.  If materials must be ordered will they make it in time?  Probably not, so I overnight express them.  The added expense will be worth the peace of mind.  The list of flies to be tied is then placed in the jaws of my fly tying vise for safe keeping, at least here it will not get covered over by the piles of tying materials on my desk or be discarded.

    I notice the list is short and has only nine patterns on it, some of only one size.  How can this be?  I must have overlooked something.  For a good many  years the list has remained the same length and years of trout fishing has dictated what I really need.  The remaining flies fill boxes that stuff my vest and make me look good.  They also serve as a safety device. Should I fall in and need to be rescued, I can be easily  plucked from the water  and brought ashore with an electromagnet. My bulging vest, with the outline of each box clearly distinguishable, identifies me as a real trout fisherman.  I sometimes think I should be the one to advertise vests and waders and  in such magazines as Fly Fisherperson and Rod and Creel.

    As I begin tying the flies on the list I must remember the “Bondorew Law of Fly Tying”.  The law states, if you tie any fly, always tie three of them.  The first one will probably be lost in a tree, the second lost to a trout leaving you with just one of the right fly.  To me, having just one of the right fly will change the way you fish.  The fear of losing it will make you more cautious, tighten your casting style, and cause you to fish in places that are easy to fish and probably don’t hold any.  With this in mind, always remember to tie at least six of any pattern.  This will leave you with three extras to fish with.  If your lifelong fishing companion should want one of the right fly point him to the tree that has his in it.  Should you stick your one and only killer in a tree, remember  to never pull straight down on the leader and line to free it.  Just loop some extra fly line around the culprit branch with your rod tip and pull on the looped line.  This should break the branch and rescue your prize.  If the fly line should break, you probably needed a new one anyway.  I always carry a ten inch mini chain saw in the large pouch on the back of my  fly vest to expedite such rescue attempts.

Most of the flies on the list are not new.  They are variations of standard patterns tied with either different types of materials or slightly different colors.  The sacred patterns included on the list are as follows:


Black Ghost marabou

Black Ghost Marabou

 Black  Ghost Marabou—(as dressed by Joe Adamonis)
Hook:  size 4-10, 3x-4xl streamer hook i.e. Eagle Claw Model L-058S, Mustad Model 38941
Tail:    Soft Yellow hackle Fibers
Body: Black floss which is more in line with traditional streamer patterns or Black Chenille, Small or medium depending upon hook size and shank length

Ribbing: Silver  Tinsel/Mylar Small or medium depending upon hook size& shank length
Wing: White Marabou
Throat(Beard): Soft Yellow hackle fibers
Origin:   First tied in 1927  by Herbert L.Welch of Mooselookmeguntic, Maine for  Rangely Lake area salmon and squaretail trout.

This fly is a personal favorite. Not only does it catch fish for me but also appeals to my eye. Flies that have a certain eye appeal have always worked well  for me over the years.   This is one of a few fly patterns that can claim universal acceptance.


The Black marabou

Black Marabou


Black Marabou
Hook:  size 4-10, 3x-4xl streamer hook
Tail: Soft Yellow hackle Fibers or marabou
Body: Black Chenille, Small or medium depending upon hook size and shank length or
Black floss which is more in line with traditional streamer patterns
Ribbing: Gold Tinsel/Mylar Small or medium depending upon hook size and shank length
Wing: Black Marabou
Topping: None
Throat(Beard): Soft Yellow hackle fibers or marabou
Origin: Unknown – I began tying this pattern in the late 1960s, but can’t recall what inspired me to tie it this way


CardinelleAs dressed by Alec Stansell (Favorite

The Cardinelle

The Cardinelle

Hook:  size 4-10, 3x-4xl streamer hook—Thread: Fluorescent red or Orange
Body: Fluorescent Cerise or Hot Pink wool /yarn (floss can also be used)
Underwing:  Fluorescent Orange or Red Hair
Wing: Cerise or Hot Pink Marabou tied full
Throat(Beard or Collar): Soft Yellow hackle fibers
Origin:  Late 1960s Worcester, MA designed by Bill Chiba and popularized by Paul Kukonen


Black Wooly Bugger—I’ve omitted the photo for this pattern because if you don’t know what one  looks like then you probably shouldn’t be reading this.

Hook:  size 6-10, 3xl streamer hook
Body: Black Chenille  or Black Sparkle Chenille
Tail:   Black Marabou
Rib/Hackle: Palmered Black Hackle

*** Black is the most popular color however brown and olive are equally effective


Gray Nymph

Gray Nymph

Gray Nymph

Hook:  size 8-12 Std or 1XL Wet Fly hook such as Mustad Model 3906 or 3906B
Tail:   Soft, Gray or Bronze blue dun Hackle Fibers

Rib: Optional ->Fine silver wire

Body: Dubbed Muskrat Fur
Hackle:   Soft, Gray or Bronze Blue Dun Hackle  Collar                                

Origin: Click Here to see how this pattern came about.


Hare’s Ear Nymph

Hare’s Ear Nymph

Hook:  Size 10-14 2XL    Rib:     Optional ->Fine Gold wire

Tail:  Stubby Hare’s Ear Guard
Rib: Optional ->Fine Gold wire
Body: Hare’s ear dubbing– guard hairs and all
Hackle:   Gray grouse hackle fiber beard

 Origin:   1960s  Jim  Quick-From his book Fishing the Nymph            



Zug Bug (As dressed by Joe Adamonis)

            Zug Bug

Hook:  Size 10-14 2XL    Rib:     Optional ->Fine Gold wire

Tail:  Peacock sword
Rib: Flat silver tinsel
Body: Peacock Herl
Wing Case: Mallard flank
Hackle:   Brown  hackle fiber beard





Hook:  size 12-16 Std or 1XL Dry Fly Hook

Tail:  Two or Three stripped Grizzly hackle stems
Body: Stripped Peacock quill
Hackle:   Brown and Grizzly Dry Fly hackles mixed
Wing: Lemon Barred Wood Duck

Origin: Late 1960s H.G. Tapply  and his Tap’s Tip column  in Field & Stream magazine


Black Gnat Midge

Black Gnat Midge

   Black Gnat Midge

Hook:  Size  20/22 Dry Fly Hook-(Turned-up eye best)

Tail:   Black hackle fibers
Body: Black Floss–Alternate  Black poly
Wing: Gray Mallard
Hackle: Black Neck hackle


While tying each pattern I pause to release the trout it has just caught. I’ve never tied a fly that did not catch at least one lunker while it was in my vise. I’m confident with this selection as they have done well by me over the years, and will continue to ensure that I’ll catch more trout than the average bear in the woods. These nine patterns  are my cure all’s, but I must remember that the trout I seek can become very selective, and sometimes will only dine on such gourmet items as; Corn, Velveeta cheese , party marshmallows and cigarette butts. At such times even my Killers won’t work. If you tie these flies , fish them with confidence and leave them on for a while. A fly fished without confidence e is unlikely to catch  many fish  for one simple reason. It will not be in the water long enough before a different pattern is tied on. Always remember ‘ It’s not the fly but the driver. “

The last item I check is my waders, but this I save for Opening Day. Thirty degree water temperatures have a way of telling you things no other leak test can. . You probably won’t delay repairing them if they need it, and what wife would  say “No” to buying a new pair while visiting you in the pneumonia ward.   Finally I check  that  Lava soap and toothpaste  are in my vest. Lava soap can be used to remove the sheen from your leader and help it to sink. It will also remove the fishy odor on your hands from the all the trout you have released. Toothpaste can also be used for a leader sink, and to brighten your smile when you return home at the end of a hard day of fishing. You will need a bright smile when you tell your wife, “Let’s not go out tonight, I have  a lot of flies to tie for tomorrow”‘ Never let your wife or girlfriend see the list presented here, for she too will know, you really only need nine.


Copyright Ray Bondorew 2016


****   I first drafted this article in the early 1990s. The early version was published without pics in the Rhoddy Fly Rodders newsletter. Each year I’d re-read it and tell myself I should do some proper editing  and make it more presentable. This went on for years until just recently when I finally decided to either do something  with it or just shelf it for good.  To stop procrastinating  was a major hurdle for me and if nothing else clearing that hurdle gave me a sense of accomplishment. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.






Seems Like Yesterday

Recently my two lifelong friends  Joe Adamonis and Al “The Guide” Tobojka and I have gotten together once a week to tie flies at Al’s “Fish cave.” Tying flies is only one aspect of these get-togethers. It’s the camaraderie, recollections and stories that make these times special. I guess you could call these outings “Tie and Lie.” We began fishing and tying together in our early teens and continue to do so today in our mid-70s.  Just think, that’s nearly two hundred years of experience between us. Few good fishing buddies can say that. While we continue do  our share of striper fly tying and fishing  our focus has shifted somewhat. We now spend more time at our roots, freshwater fishing. Our recent tying sessions reflect this shift. We’ve been tying everything from soft hackle wets to foam hoppers. Joe likes to tie “Softies’ using Pearsall Silk for many and an occasional Midge as shown below. (Click on pic to enlarge)

Joe’s Soft Hackles(Softies)


Partridge and Copper


Zebra Midge

Partridge and Green






Partridge and Purple

Partridge and Purple

Iron Blue Dun

  Iron Blue Dun


Of course saltwater patterns continued to be tied.  Al ” The Guide” likes his Saltwater patterns and gets away from freshwater flies frequently as his “Clouser Tree ” shows.  


                    Al’s Clouser Tree

I’ve been tying  classic patterns for Maine Brookies and Landlocks. Many that I’ve never tied before but thought were interesting enough in both design and history to try. Several are pictured below. They are (L -R)  the Tomah Joe, Grizzly King and  Magalloway.  The tying recipes and histories of these patterns are at Puckerbrush Flies.

The Magalloway


The Tomah-Joe


                           My  Classic Maine Wets

Grizzly King

         Grizzly King

Many of patterns we’ve been tying are new to us and whether they’ll actually be fished remains to be seen. We all have our favored reliable  patterns which often makes trying  new unproven patterns a hard choice. Regardless of the patterns we tie I can only hope that in a few more years I’ll be able to say we have over two hundred years experience. One thing’s for sure, that although it seems like yesterday, over the years we’ve tied countless flies and most have caught fish.—–Ray


*****Click here for the one pattern we do agree on.



The Hare’s Ear (Nymph)

Hare’s Ear Nymph

The Hare’s Ear is arguably the best known of all trout flies. Practically every trout angler has  heard of it even if they’ve never tied or fished one. This revered pattern is typically tied as a dry, wet or nymph. The wet fly is the one most commonly tied with the nymph version next in line. The Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymph is very popular. While I do fish it occasionally my favorite is a very simple Hare’s Ear nymph that I’ve been tying and fishing for many years.

I love tying and fishing furry, easily tied patterns and this one is no exception. It’s so simple I often try to think of ways to improve it and make it even more effective. However as the saying goes, ‘”if it works don’t fix it” surely holds true for this Hare’s Ear. I learned of this pattern around the same time I began tying my Gray Nymph and Ted Trueblood’s Otter Shrimp. The pattern came to me from Jim Quick’s book entitled “Fishing the Nymph.” The pattern’s simplicity is what caught my eye. Its fish catching ability won my confidence. This book contains a wealth of nymph fishing info and also led me to the Hare’s Ear Partridge and Ted Trueblood’s Beaver Nymph, two great nymphs in their own right. There are seventy-five or so patterns in this book and most have fur bodies. If you like tying with dubbing  fur you might enjoy tying the patterns in this book.

Jim Quick's Hare's Ear Nymph

Jim Quick’s
 Hare’s Ear Nymph

When tying this pattern it’s easy to think that if a little is good than more must be better. In this case as in many fly patterns less is more both in appearance and productivity. While this pattern produces in rivers and streams when tumbled near the bottom, I find it’s best in slow-moving water especially when fish are feeding near the surface. It also works well in ponds. A slow steady retrieve is all that’s required. Here’s the recipe for Jim Quick’s Hare’s Ear Nymph.

Originator Jim Quick

Hook: Fine wire Dry fly hooks (I use Size 10-14 wet and dry fly hooks often 1!xl)

Thread: tan/brown

Tail: Stubby Hare guard hairs.

Body: Hare’s ear or hare’s mask including guard hairs for a somewhat rough appearance

Legs: Gray grouse beard

Variations: Body- Ribbed w/ Gold tinsel or yellow floss:   Legs- sparse grizzly hackle collar

** I usually rib this fly with fine gold wire to make it more durable.



The Stayner Ducktail

The Stayner Ducktail

I enjoy tying and fishing older fly patterns and learning of their history.. Last July I posted a link to for some old and often forgotten patterns along with a philosophy I totally agree with. All that glitters is not gold, but more often the old and tarnished patterns are. Patterns forgotten by all but the fish. While at the website I learned of the Stayner Ducktail, a easily tied old pattern that wasn’t often seen in Maine and could take good sized trout. Liking the way this pattern looked I made it a point to tie several up for my next trip up north.


Stayner Ducktail– Tied by Hugh Kelly

In August of last year I went on a ten day camping and fishing trip to Maine. This would be a solo trip of sorts, just me and Maddie’s memory. My plan was to camp on the banks of the Lower Magallaway River and fish for smallmouths and trout//salmon around the Umbagog and Rangely Lakes area. On most trips I often spend a day exploring to find and checkout new fishing spots. When heading out for a days fishing I want to go directly to a spot rather than drive around trying to find it. On one such day I found out how to get to the Camp 10 Bridge pool on the Upper Magallaway and also the acess and canoe launch for Little Kennebago Lake..

Little Kennabago Lake

Little Kennabago Lake

Despite having never fished either area before I was determined to break my old habits and give the Stayner Ducktail a fair chance. Leaving it on for a while rather than fishing it briefly then quickly tying on one my usually reliable patterns . By not giving up on the pattern I did take a half dozen or so brookies at each spot. No monsters but decent fish. I gave it another chance at the Little Falls area at the inlet to Cupsuptic Lake. Here it didn’t work but nothing else did either. Actually they didn’t work on trout but managed several large 18″+ Chubs. While frowned upon by many I ‘d say that Chubs fight as hard as any trout and large ones taken on a four weight will give you all you can handle.

Because of its success at two fishing spots I fished for the first time, several Stayner Ducktails will be in my arsenal from now on. So checkout the Stayner Ducktail at for the recipe and tying instructions. Tie several up and remember to leave it on for a while. Give it a chance and it will take fish..

Here’s a Tying Video for the Stayner Ducktail 


Earth Day Flies

When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them. –Chief Seattle

Earth Day Flies

       Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22nd. A day on which worldwide events are held to demonstrate awareness and support for environmental protection. This year I set out to retrace my steps of Earth Day 2013. Pick up several bags of trash at nearby outdoor recreational areas then head to a small, unstocked stream to fish for native Brook Trout. I planned to fish only two flies, my Lola streamer and Squirrel nymph. These two new(to me) patterns had special meaning as they were dressed using mainly materials the Earth had provided, especially my squirrel nymph. It seemed only fitting  that I should fish them for wild, native trout, stocked by Mother Nature not dumped  from a hatchery truck .

Lola Streamer & Squirrel nymph

Lola Streamer & Squirrel nymph

The Lola streamer was named after my dog Lola who provided me with a small tuft of her white hair for the streamer’s wing.Wisps of red hackle were used for the tail and throat. White yarn from my wife’s knitting supply ribbed with a strand of silver tinsel from my Christmas tree formed the streamer’s body. You might wonder, a Christmas tree in April? Early each December we get a fresh-cut Christmas tree. The decorated tree remains in my family room through New Years and into mid-January. Finally the lights, ornaments and tinsel are removed (some tinsel always remains) and the tree still in its stand is set in the backyard near my bird feeders where it provides cover for the birds. I also scatter bird seed beneath the tree for the smaller ground feeders especially before a snow storm. Around the end of April the tree is taken to my towns compost site–Christmas trees have always served me well.

Lola’s Streamer
Thread: Black
Hook: Size 6-10 Streamer hook 3- 4XL
Tail: Red hackle wisps
Wing: Bunch of Lola’s white fur or Arctic fox fur.
Body: Strand of white yarn from wife’s knitting yarn stash or an old sweater.
Ribbing; Strand of Silver Christmas Tree tinsel
Hackle: Red hackle wisps

 I expected my Lola streamer fly to work and wasn’t surprised that it did. What did surprise me was how Lola’s fur wing appeared while I fished the pattern. Lola, (Wonder Dog in Training) is a mix breed; part Great Pyrenees, Siberian Huskie and Border Collie.

Lola-"Wonder Dog in Training"

Lola-“Wonder Dog in Training

The white fur Lola gave me from under her neck is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Arctic Fox fur. Looking at the fly after wetting it the hairs appeared very compressed and I thought more fur was needed. However looking at it while fishing the white wing seemed to explode and really puff up. The wing looked a little too full and seemed to over-power the fly. Despite this minor short coming it had great action and caught several native Brookies.

Earth Day 2014  Native

Earth Day 2014 Native

RKS(Road Kill Squirrel) Nymph
Thread: black
Hook: Std or 1XL Wet Fly Size 10/12
Tail: Gray Squirrel outer body fur(white-tipped black and brown hairs)
Body: Dubbed Gray Squirrel dark blue-gray under and outer fur mixed
Hackle: Collar of Gray Squirrel Outer Body fur
Ribbing: Fine silver wire(optional)

        My RKS nymph is tied solely of squirrel fur. Several weeks ago while walking my dogs close to home we came upon a recent road kill gray squirrel. The blood looked fresh and the body showed no visible damage so before cars ran it over to beyond recognition I brought it home to take the tail for fly tying. While carefully looking over squirrel’s body fur a new fly pattern came to mind. One using the white-tipped black and brown outer hairs for the tail and collar/hackle and the dark blue-gray under fur for the body. I quickly took the tail, skinned the body to use for my new pattern and buried the remains. I tied several squirrel nymphs, one dubbed with only the soft dark blue-gray under fur and the other dubbed with mixed outer and under fur.

Road Kill Squirrel Nymphs

Road Kill Squirrel Nymphs

My choice was the mixed fur one(on the right) because of it’s more ragged and buggier look. The finished fly tied solely of road kill squirrel fur looked great and reminded me of my gray nymph in appearance. I knew the RKS nymph would work well and it did.

These two fly patterns show how successful patterns  can be tied using materials that  are at hand. Whether it be road kill, dog/cat fur ,bird feathers  etc  Mother Earth provides a good supply of tying materials free of charge. It’s not only fun to be creative and tie with these materials but also  extremely rewarding, especially when they work.  Tie’em up!–Ray

(c) Ray Bondorew 2014

The Trueblood Otter Shrimp

        I’ve always favored furry, simple and easily tied fly patterns. Flies tied using animal fur, bird hackles and perhaps ribbed with some real wire or tinsel have always produced for me. The Trueblood Otter Shrimp is one of those simple yet productive patterns.

      Lefty Kreh once wrote an article for Field and Stream magazine where he had asked the top twelve fly rodders in the country at the time to list their favorite six dry, wet, nymph and streamer patterns. Joe brooks, A.J.Mcclane,Charles Fox, Ed Shenk, Dan Bailey, Doug Swisher and Carl Richards were among those Lefty petitioned. While there was variation in most of their choices the Truelood Otter Shrimp was the one nymph pattern that most agreed upon.

The Trueblood Otter Shrimp was created by Ted Trueblood, one time fishing editor and outdoor writer for Field & Stream magazine. His Otter Shrimp is a classic nymph pattern designed to be fished as a scud. Although primarily a successful shrimp/scud pattern, trout everywhere readily accept it even where neither scud nor shrimp are present because they perceive this fly as food. That’s the ultimate criteria for the success of any fly, what the fish think it is!

I learned of Trueblood Otter shrimp when Ted Trueblood introduced it in a  Field and Stream article he wrote in the early 1970s. He wrote that the fly had taken trout all over the U.S and Europe and summed it up saying ‘it usually caught fish.” Back then I was often blinded by fancy flies with intriguing names and wondered if something so basic could be productive. Despite my desire for something fancy, difficult to tie and surely more productive I tied several up. I quickly learned that the Otter Shrimp was a consistent producer and for over forty years have always toted several in my fly box.

Ted Trueblood’s Otter Shrimp/Nymph

Trueblood Otter Shrimp

Trueblood Otter Shrimp

Hook: Std Wet fly
Tail: Brown Partridge
Body: Otter Fur  80%& Cream seal fur  20%
Hackle/Legs: Brown Partridge
Head: Green
** I often tie this pattern using solely Beaver fur.



Around the same time period I had tied a similar pattern I saw in Fishing the Nymph by Jim Quick. The fly named the Beaver Nymph was also originated by Ted Trueblood.

Ted Trueblood’s Beaver Nymph

 Hook: Std Wet fly

truebloods beaver Nymph

Beaver Nymph-Ted Trueblood

Tail: Wood Duck wisps
Body: Beaver or Otter Fur tied full
Rib: Gold Wire(optional)
Hackle/Legs: Gray Partridge or Wood Duck wisps
Head: Brown







These patterns are similar in construction and differ in the materials used for body, tail and legs. They all catch fish and I find them interchangable in most conditions.

ted Trueblood's Otter & Beaver Nymphs

Ted Trueblood’s Otter & Beaver Nymphs

So tie a few up, fish them with confidence and remember, ” leave them on for a while, you’ll catch fish.”

*** If you don’t tie or/and would like to try this pattern Contact me  on how to get a few!

*** You can  Click here for some ,  or also Click her


” Even a Bluegill deserves a nice fly” —Alec Stansell

One for the Book-The Alaska Mary Ann

I’ve always enjoyed knowing the origin of fly patterns. It’s interesting to know what inspired their originator, and the reasoning behind their choice of colors and materials. One fly whose origin I’ve always found interesting is the Alaska Mary Ann. This pattern not only appeals to my eye but also a reminds me of my Yellow Rebel streamer as both flies were tied to mimic successful lures. The use of only natural materials also adds to its appeal.

The Alaska Mary Ann was originated in 1922 by Frank Dufresne a well-known writer and member U.S. Fish&Wildlife Service. He watched native Alaskan  Kobuk River Eskimos consistently catch char, Dolly Varden, grayling, pike, trout, sheefish or anything else in the Kobuk River with a single lure called the Kobuk Lure. The Eskimos had fashioned a piece of whale bone into a minnow like shape.They then drove a copper nail into and through the top of one end then bent the nail’s shank and point into a hook-like shape. A smidgen of polar bear hair was lashed on top of the other end . The finishing touch was a tag made from a piece from the mouth of a Guillemot bird. Some of the Kobuk lures had a two small eyes, consisting of inset pieces of black whalebone. The Eskimos great success with their lure inspired Frank to fashion a fly after it.(Click on pic to enlarge)

Alaska Mary Ann        6 & 8 XL

Alaska Mary Ann
6 & 8 XL

Hook: Originally tied on a #8 long shank hook.
Thread: Black
Tail: Small Bunch of red hackle fibers or red hair
Body: Dressed full Ivory or light tan silk(Floss).
Ribbing: Med. Flat silver Tinsel
Wing: Small bunch of white polar bear hair extending to the end of the tail.
Cheeks: Jungle cock

Frank’s original fly was nameless until he went fishing with a friend in a stream in southeastern Alaska that abounded with many speices of trout and salmon. His friend was casting Franks creation and was greatly out fishing him with it. He stated”this fly “catches ’em all, the whole Mary Ann of them”, the name was born.
The size of this pattern varies depending where it’s fished and for what. The original was tied on a No. 8 long hank hook. Long shank streamer hooks are typically anywhere from 3XL -8XL. In February I was hoping to meet a friend while I was tying at the Bears Den Fishing Expo and give him an Alaska Mary Ann tied on a No.6 4Xl hook. My friend Fred, his wife Mary Anne and their Newfoundland Effie have been to Alaska on their “once and only” Ultimate Road Trip from Westport, Ma to Fairbanks, AK  in 2009 and again in 2012. He looked surprised when I handed him the fly, ” it looks small, up there(Alaska) it’s quite popular and they tie’em big, No.1 or 2s.” That would make a long shank No.8 3xl equal to No.2, just as Fred said. Regardless of size I think it would be productive everywhere for whatever it’s fished for.

Last year I did more striper fishing than I had in quite a while. I did quite well the entire season using only my Yellow Rebel pattern. This year I’m planning on using only an Alaska Mary Ann. Perhaps I’ll use only the AMA or my Yellow Rebel. After all they come from the same mold so to speak.—Ray
**** The pictured flies were tied by Alec Stansell of Wellfleet MA. You can find him at his site Favorite . Alec, one-time owner of a Portland, Me fly shop can tie practically anything but his specialty is old-time, classic flies for Black Bass, trout, salmon and saltwater speices. His love for tying classic flies with all natural materials is only exceeded by thirst for knowing the origin of all flies he ties and most well-known patterns.  So check out his site to see some great looking patterns. If you’re thinking of doing a little tidal river and pond April striper fishing check out his Shrymph pattern. It may be just the ticket.

Early Spring 2013 – Fly of the Month(s)

Bill Chiba/ Paul Kukonen’s Cardinelle

In my Fishing in February post there’s several paragraphs about Paul Kukonen and his fishing films along with a picture of a Cardinelle streamer fly that he  popularized.  Many have asked for more info about the Cardinelle .The paragraphs that follow provide the Cardinelle’s history, tying recipe and picture. Also included is a very simple off shoot of the Cardinelle’s coloration that I tie.

The Cardinelle was first tied by Bill Chiba, a Springfield Mass outdoor writer. . In the late 1960s he showed the fly to Paul Kukonen, a fly shop owner, expert fly tyer and fly fisher from Worcester , MA. Paul was best known for his fishing films that he showed to many thousands of anglers and hunters each year at fish and game clubs and outdoor shows throughout New England and the Northeast. It was at these shows that Paul popularized the Cardinelle, touting its effectiveness and making the angling public aware of it. Before, after and during intermission of his film showings he would offer the fly for sale. He always had an ample supply of them on hand and the proceeds each fly sold went to his “Jack Daniels fund.”  For those who wanted tie their own Cardinelle Paul offered  1/4 oz. bags of the deep hot pink marabou which he used in his ties. The shade of his marabou was slightly deeper than other hot pinks found commercially elsewhere. Paul caught all species of trout, landlocks, Atlantic salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, stripers, blues and coho on the fly.  He said that it was the ‘best smallmouth fly he had ever fished.”

Paul changed the original pattern slightly as listed below. The original was tied with a floss body and without an underwing.


Hook: Any 3xl, 4xl, 6xl streamer hook – typically in sizes 4 to 10 

Thread: Fluorescent red or Orange

Body: Fluorescent wool /yarn (floss can also be used)  

Hackle: Soft yellow hackle tied as a collar

Wing: Cerise or Hot Pink Marabou tied full

Underwing: Fluorescent Orange or red hair

Here’s a pair of Cardinelle streamer flies tied by Alec Stansell of Favorite Flies. com

The Cardinelle

The Cardinelle

While the Cardinelle represents nothing that occurs in nature, cerise or hot pink does have fish catching ability. I have found this attractor pattern to be effective for brook and rainbouw trout, landlocked salmon and smallmouth bass. In recent years the Cardinelle has become less popular and known than it once was. However it still remains  an effective attractor pattern that’s always worth a try and there will always be a few in my fly box.

Myself and several friends tie and fish an off shoot of the Cardinelle we call the “Cardellow.” Basically it’s a hot pink and yellow marabou streamer hence the name Cardellow. It’s very effective for native and stocked brook trout, rainbow trout and smallmouth bass. . We usually tie it with a small amount of hot pink over the larger quantity of yellow marabou for the wing. I prefer tying it with only a touch of pink over the yellow. It doesn’t take much pink to over-power the yellow I also keep the pink topping a tad shorter than the yellow so when viewed from above the pink appears to have a yellow tip.

 The Cardellow

The Cardellow


Hook: 4xl streamer hook sizes 6 -10 i.e. Eagle Claw L058

Thread: Fluorescent Orange,  red  or black

Body: Gold tinsel, Mylar or Bill’s Body Braid

Rib:  Gold wire (optional  but may prevent the body from being quickly chewed up)

Wing: A small bunch of Cerise or Hot Pink Marabou over a larger bunch of yellow marabou.

(C)  Ray Bondorew 2013