Category: One for the Book

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

About the Fly of the Month Articles

Freshwater Fly of the Month- May/June 2012

 The Gray Nymph

                My two lifelong friends Al Tobojka and Joe Adamonis and I are seldom in total agreement on much of anything. However,  we do unanimously agree without question that if we could only have but a few trout flies, the Gray nymph would be one of them. We’ve been trying and fishing this pattern successfully for over fifty years. Some modifications have been made along the way and each one of us ties this pattern a little differently. However the basic pattern stands as a Gray Nymph.

I began tying this pattern after seeing a Gray Nymph listed as one of the best, “special ‘nymphs listed in Joe Brook’s Complete Book of Fly Fishing. I highly recommend that anyone who fly fishes or is thinking of starting read this well rounded informational book that covers all the bases.  The book gave only pattern names not complete tying instructions or pictures of most patterns.  The fly was noted as “tied with a heavy, fuzzy body of muskrat fur, gray hackle and badger tail—good everywhere.” When I was a boy, If Joe Brook’s said it, then it was surely a great fly pattern, no doubt about it.  There wasn’t many fly tying and fly pattern books around fifty-five years ago. If a picture of a pattern wasn’t available then the imagination went to work. This led to many productive patterns being  unintentionally tied.  I thought the pattern to be exactly as stated, a Gray Nymph, what could be easier?  I didn’t know what badger hackle was, in fact at the time I didn’t know the difference between badger and grizzly or Cocky-Bondu for that matter.  I didn’t have or know where I could find muskrat fur so I tied my first ones with a gray hackle tail and collar with a body of gray wool yarn. The Gray Nymph tied that way was productive and soon some changes were made that improved its fish catching ability. I soon learned of blue dun and bronze blue dun hackle. Muskrat fur that the pattern originally called for was eventually acquired  and spun on for the body material. Various shades of gray can be found on a muskrat pelt depending upon location,  i.e. belly fur for a lighter gray, back for darker blue/gray.  I tie it today using mainly soft bronze blue dun hackle for the tail and collar and muskrat fur for the body. Most time I’m not choosey with the color of the fur and spin in guard hairs and all. Seems the coarser looking this pattern is , the better it works. There’s nothing like one that has taken several trout first to really make it productive.  I normally wet ones fresh from the box with some saliva (spit on it) to get it to sink and look right.

The gray nymph is productive when fished deep or near surface and anywhere in-between.   I love fishing it when trout can be seen rising and are taking nymphs just below the surface or adults insects on top.  I cast out and then use a short, S-L-O-W retrieve. The takes near the surface are usually strong while strikes when it’s fished deep can be barely discernible. This requires really concentrating to try and detect even the slightest difference in the resistance of each strip.  The Gray Nymph, a truely productive pattern that should be in everyone’s arsenal.

Here’s the standard pattern

Hook: Size 10 or 12 Wet Fly  hook Std or 1XL such as Mustad Model 3906 or 3906B

Thread: Black

Tail: Gray Hackle fibers

Body: Dubbed Muskrat under fur

Hackle: Soft gray hackle


Here’s how we tie it, each dresses his Gray Nymph  slightly  different than the others.


Gray Nymph—Al Tobojka


Hook: Size 10 or 12  2XL hook such as Mustad Model 9872

Tail: Dark Bronze blue dun hackle fibers

Body: Blue/gray Muskrat fur

Hackle:  Medium Gray Marabou plume fibers


Gray Nymph –Joe Adamonis


Hook: Size 10 or 12 1XL Wet Fly hook such as Mustad Model 3906B

Tail: Light Blue Dun Gray hackle fibers

Body: Lt. Medium gray Muskrat fur (Belly fur)

Hackle:  Light Blue Dun Gray hackle fibers



Gray Nymph –Ray Bondorew

Huuk: Size 10 or 12 1XL Wet Fly hook such as Mustad Model 3906B

Tail:  Soft bronze blue Dun hackle fibers

Body:  Medium to dark Gray muskrat fur (Guard hairs included)

Hackle:  Soft bronze blue Dun hackle fibers

Rib: Fine silver wire (optional)



© Ray Bondorew May 2012

About the Fly of the Month and Bonus Fly

April/May 2012

Black Marabou

Fly of the Month—Black Marabou Streamer

Black Marabou—(as dressed by Ray Bondorew)
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 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
Origin: Unknown- I began tying this pattern in the late 1960s, but can’t recall what inspired me to tie it this way.

This fly is basically a Black Ghost streamer tied with a black wing and gold rib . I’ve been tying this pattern for many years and consider its effectiveness on par with that of the widely popular Black Wooly Bugger. Now that’s saying something. If given a choice between the two I’d probably opt for the Wooly Bugger solely because I think it represents more food items. However, the Black Marabou is a pretty fly and appeals to my eye, there’s something to said for aesthetics. I’ve often said the only difference between the two patterns is that they hit the Black Marabou harder. This is solely because I work it faster than the Wooly Bugger most of the time.
Sizes 4-8: Good for Black Bass, Crappie, Pickerel and Trout.
Sizes 6-10: Black Bass, Big Bluegills, Crappie Trout and of course Pickerel as they’ll hit anything that moves.
Pickerel really love Black.


Bonus Fly –Ballou Special Streamer

Ballou Special- (As dressed by Joe Adamonis)
Hook:  size 8 & 10 Mustad Model 3906B (1XL)
Tail: Golden Pheasant crest curved downward.
Body: Silver Bill’s Body braid
Wing: Dozen or so strands of red bucktail, over which is some white Marabou.
Topping: Several strands of peacock herl or peacock sword(pictured) as long as the tail.

Throat: White Marabou

The Ballou Special is a very effective streamer that comes to me from my lifelong friend Joe Adamonis of North Kingston, RI. Joe and I started tying flies together fifty-five years ago. Many patterns have come and gone but this one has been in Joe’s arsenal since the early 1970s. Joe tied it up on a whim after seeing it in Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing by Joseph D. Bates. He liked the way the fly looked and quickly learned of its effectiveness. I remember well how I learned of it from Joe. It was a week after opening day of trout season back around 1972 and we put my aluminum boat into Meadowbrook Pd. In Richmond, R.I. Forty years ago not many fished the pond which today is quite popular. Fishing was slow early on until Joe decided to try his new pattern. After he quickly caught four or five nice rainbows I asked what the hay he was using. “a Ballou Special’ he replied. “Ballou Special, what’s that?” Joe showed me his new pattern and eventually parted with one for me to try. From that day on we always carry several Ballou Specials in our fly boxes because of its productiveness and it’s always worth a try.  Joe originally tied the Ballou using Mustad No. 3665a 6XL streamer hook. Nowadays he ties mainly on Mustad #3906B 1XL size 8 &10.

Here’s the pattern as it appears in Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing by Joseph D. Bates.
Ballou Special
Hook: Long shanked single hooks i.e Mustad Model 3665A
Tail: One or Two Golden Pheasant crest feathers curving downward.
Body: Medium flat silver tinsel
Wing: Dozen or so strands of red bucktail slightly longer than the tail , over which two marabou feathers are tied in flat( At right angles to the hook)
Topping:: Dozen strands of peacock herl
as long as the tail.
Cheeks: Jungle cock eyes

Origin: originally tied by A.W. Ballou of Litchfield, Maine in 1921 for landlocked salmon.