Ghost Reindeer Shiner
This article should rightly be subtitled what to do when you don't have the right material that a pattern calls for?
The Ghost Reindeer Shiner
The original pattern called for tan sable with a 'silky' texture. The available reindeer patch was silky to the touch and had a greyish-tan coloration and this ended up as the wing material for the Ghost Reindeer Shiner. When tying on a clump of reindeer you'll find that it's very soft and flares easily. If you can picture a correctly tied Elk hair caddis with the flared butt ends of the Elk hair, this is what you get with reindeer hair. I found after a few tries that if you capture all of the winging material in a loose loop and then pull directly "up" with the thread, the reindeer will not flair as much and then easily compresses to form the head of the streamer.
The Ghost Shiner with Sable Wing
The acid test of any fly, especially a streamer, is how does it fish and will it catch fish; the Ghost Reindeer Shiner performed well on all counts. When the streamer gets wet the reindeer hair humps over the top shank and sort of molds itself to the fly. The streamer tracks straight in the water owing to both the throat acting as a keel and the molding action of the reindeer wing onto the fly. The first time the fly was used on the Willowemoc river it managed to interest and catch several over 14" browns; not bad for an inaugural outing. The second time that the fly was used was on a local New Jersey stream where it caught several perch and two largemouth bass; these Oatman patterns are extremely effective in most conditions. Both times out there was nothing rising, no hatches and general lack of interest on the part of the fish until I started using this pattern.
I'm not going to include tying steps, other than what I discussed regarding the tying on of the reindeer for the wing, since the other steps are standard streamer technique. The reindeer does get 'beat up' after being chewed by fish and looks a bit ratty but it will still fish well. Would I use reindeer again for other patterns? Yes definitely!