Published Jan 1. 2001

Little bucktails swap

This swap has gathered a collection of patterns from diverse sources, including Maine regional favorites, patterns from the wider northeast, regional patterns from the West and from Alberta, and newly created patterns. They all share three things in common - hair wings, small hooks, and a tremendous attraction to brook trout.

Bucktails Logo

A swap organized over the Streamers@ mailing list

Back a few months ago on the Streamers@ mailing list, one of the discussion-group participants (don't worry Bob, you'll go nameless) admitted that he had no small bucktails in his streamer box; and querried the group to recommend patterns. Subsequently, over a dreary January weekend, with 74 days, 9 hours & a few assorted minutes until opening day in Maine, the idea for this swap was spawned. In addition to gracing these pages, the swap served to fill quite a few streamer boxes with a delightful variety of "little bucktails for brookies."

This swap has gathered a collection of patterns from diverse sources, including Maine regional favorites (such as the Warden's Worry and Edson Tigers), patterns from the wider northeast (e.g. the Shushan Postmaster), regional patterns from the West and from Alberta (Atom Bomb & McNab), old Atlantic salmon fly adaptations (the Professor), and newly created patterns (South Branch Chub, Grey Fox, Green Parrot). They all share three things in common - hair wings, small hooks, and a tremendous attraction to brook trout.


Submitted By Wes Autio



HOOKMustad 3665A, #10
THREADUni-Thread, 8/0, black
TAILSection of barred wood duck, tied to show two bars
BODYFour strands peacock herl, twisted with tying thread
WINGYellow buck tail, with red hackle tips tied on top, extending to about 1/3 of the length of the buck tail
CHEEKSJungle cock, only the eye showing
HEADBlack, lacquered with penetrating clear head cement, and then with black Cellire



HOOKMustad 3665A, #10
THREADUni-Thread, 8/0, black
BODYFlat silver tinsel (Uni-Mylar, #14, 1/32"), ribbed with fine oval tinsel (DMC Light Silver Embroidery Thread)
WINGBuck tail, tied in three equally sized bunches, red between two yellow
HEADBlack, lacquered with penetrating clear head cement, and then with black Cellire

Wes' Comments

Edson Light Tiger:
The Edson Light Tiger was created by William Edson of Portland, ME in 1929. Joseph Bates (Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing) suggests that the Edson Light Tiger and Edson Dark Tiger are "among the most successful for all species of game fish."

Tying Instructions
1. Start the thread behind the eye of the hook and lay down an even base of thread wraps to the hook bend.
2. Select a section of barred wood duck feather that is about 3/16" wide, showing at least two bars. Even the tip of the feather and fold it. Tie it to the top of the hook, allowing two bars to show. Tie the base of the section to the top of the hook by wrapping the thread back to about 3/16" from the eye.
3. Select four strands of peacock herl and tie to the top of the hook. Hold in on top of the hook and wrap the tread back to the hook bend over the herl. Twist the herl and thread together and wrap the herl/thread
around the hook to about 3/16" from the eye.
4. As the start of the wing, select a bunch of yellow bucktail, even it, and tie it to the hook, using the loop technique. The tips of the bucktail should extend to the end of the tail.
5. Apply a coat of penetrating, clear head cement before finishing the head, and allow it to dry.
6. Tie red hackle tips to the top of the wing so that they extend approximately 1/3 of the length of the bucktail.
7. Complete the head with thread wraps, and cement it again with penetrating, clear head cement. Allow it to dry, and finish the head with black Cellire for a glossy look.

Mickey Finn:
The detail of the Mickey Finn's origin is a bit obscure. The creator is unknown, but was at one time produced by William Mills & Sons but not named. Bates (in Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing) described the
history of its naming. Apparently, John Alden Knight received the fly from Junior Vanderhoff at a fishing club near Greewich, NY in 1932. Four years later, in 1936, Mr. Knight used it on a fishing trip near Toronto,
and due toits success, named it the Assassin. Gregory Clark, who also was on that trip, renamed it Mickey Finn, presumably because of the recent death of Rudolph Valentino by a dose of barbiturates (that is, he was
slipped a Mickey Finn). Over the next few years, it was popularized in the outdoors press, and since has become a staple streamer for brook trout.

Tying Instructions:
1. Start the thread behind the eye of the hook and lay down an even base of thread wraps to the hook bend. Wind thread back to about 3/16" behind the eye.
2. Tie the oval tinsel to the underside of the hook, and wrap thread over it back to the beginning of the bend, keeping the tinsel on the underside of the hook. Wind thread back to about 3/16" behind the eye.
3. Tie in the flat tinsel, and wrap it to the bend of the hook and back to the place where it was originally tied in, making sure that no thread shows through the tinsel. Tie the end of the tinsel and cut it off.
4. As the start of the wing, select a small bunch of yellow bucktail, even it, and tie it to the hook, using the loop technique as described by Martin Joergensen. The tips of the bucktail should extend just beyond the back of the hook
5. Secondly, select a small bunch of red bucktail (about the same size as the yellow), even it, and tie it on top of the yellow bunch, again using the loop technique.
6. For the last portion of the wing, select another small bunch of yellow bucktail (again, about the same size as the previous two bunches) and tie it on top using the same procedure. This loop technique helps keep
the colors separate, but you must be careful not to roll one bundle around the other, obscuring the lower color.
7. Apply a coat of penetrating, clear head cement before finishing the head, and allow it to dry.
8. Complete the head with thread wraps, and cement it again with penetrating, clear head cement. Allow it to dry, and finish the head with black Cellire for a glossy look.


Submitted By Kerry Brown


THREADolive or black
TAILyellow hakle tips or barbules
BODYsilver tinsel yarn (calls for mylar piping)
THROATbrown hackle as beard
UNDER WINGyellow marabou
OVER WINGwhite calftail (calls for bucktail)


Submitted By Ben Taylor


HOOKMustad 9575 #8
THREADblack 6/0
TAILgolden pheasant tippet fibers
BODYred floss, with peacock herl butt (3 strands) at both ends
WINGwhite goat hair
THROATbrown hackle fibers

Comments from Ben & his proud dad

The Royal Coachman Bucktail is a popular adaptation of the traditional wet fly. The substitution of white goat hair for the wing adds translucency & action to the pattern when tied in smaller sizes.
Twist the peacock herl with the tying thread before wrapping it on so it won't unravel if the fish bite it.
Ben is the 12 year-old son of the swapmeister, and clearly the prize of his dad's eye with this offering.


Submitted By Gordon Dale


THREAD8/0 Black
RIBOval tinsel
TAILGrizzly Hen Hackle
BODYRed wool Dubbing
WINGWoodChuck including underfur
HACKLE/COLLARGrizzly hen tied back
COMMENTSBe sure to use the Woodchuck underfur in the wing; it makes the wing breath or pulsate. I used a turn of red flash dubbing just behind the collar to help attract the brookies.


Submitted By Scott Daskiewich


TAILGolden Pheasant tippet
BODYOrange Floss
RIBFlat Gold Tinsel
WINGBlack over Orange bucktail


This fly is named after a small lake on the edge of the Siamese Ponds wilderness in the south central Adirondacks. Garnet mines punctuate the mountains surrounding the lake. Three species of trout inhabit the lake as well as landlocked salmon so I suspect this fly would be versatile enough to use for all. I plan on doing a trolling size model for fall landlockeds.


Submitted By Kelvin Hartley


BODYRed Uni-stretch
THROATnatural brown deer back hairs (sparse)
WINGGray Squirrel tail hair
COMMENTSInvented by Dan Legere of Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville.


Submitted By Aaron Hirschhorn


HOOK4XL Streamer, straight eye, #6 - 10
THREADBlack 6/0 or 8/0
BODYGold Mylar Tinsel (Bill's Bodi-Braid)
RIBFine Gold Wire (none)
WINGBlack & White Monga Ringtail Hair, topped by a Teal Flank Feather, flatwing style
HEADJungle Cock eyes (painted eyes).

Aaron's Comments

The South Branch Chub was originated by Bob Jacklin while he was in highschool in New Jersey. His thrust was for a fly to use in small streams and ponds for native brook trout, particularly in the South Branch of the Raritan. He now claims that it is good not only in the east, but also out west.

Tying instructions (for my variation):
1. Attach thread at eye and wrap back a couple of eye lengths.
2. At this point tie on the gold Bodi-Braid and run thread to bend and then back up to this point.
3. Wrap Bodi-Braid up to wating thrad and clip excess.
4. Tie in a sparse amount of White Monga Ringtail for the base of the wing.
5. Over the white hair tie in an equal amount of Black Monga Ringtail.
6. The top of the wing is the most important part of the fly. Drape a small teal flank feather to form the back of the fly. If using Jungle Cock, tie them on at this time.
7. Cement the head and apply a touch of dubbing wax to the wing to groom and give it a nice sparse look.
8. Apply yellow eye with black pupil and cement when dry.


Submitted By Stan Jakubaszek


HOOK4x long streamer
BODYpearl mylar tinsel
THROATyellow bucktail
WINGdark oliveover gray bucktail
CHEEKSJC (optional)
COMMENTSThis pattern, originated by Ken Thayer, tends to work well as a general searching pattern for most seasons. The colors are very 'fishy' and are suggestive of a large variety of small minnows. Tie the pattern in sizes from 2 thru 10 sized to the prevalent bait fish in the stream that you fish.


Submitted By Craig Jenne


HOOKMustad #6, 4XL streamer
TAGflat silver tinsel
BODYrear 1/3, yellow floss; front 2/3, black floss
RIBflat silver tinsel (only on front 2/3)
THROATblack hackle
WINGmoose body hair
COMMENTSI have been tying a few hair wing streamers and I am partial to this little (#6) black and yellow number. It, to my knowledge, is not a recognized pattern but is loosely based both on the green-butt black bear salmon fly and on descriptions of some of my fishing buddies favourite streamers from out in Alberta.


Submitted By Ron McKusick


THREADbrown 6/0
HOOK4x size 8
BODYreddish brown yarn
THROATRed rabbit fur
WINGgray squirrel tail hair
COMMENTSShowed to me by a fellow Trout Unlimited member who uses this fly every time he fishes KI.


Submitted By Robb Nicewonger


BODYSilver mylar
THROATRed krystal flash
UNDERWINGPearl krystal flash
TOPPINGPeacock Herl
HEADBlack with painted orange eye
COMMENTSOriginated by Ken Thayer. This is slightly different than Ken's fly--I made the pearl xtal flash an underwing instead of a belly and added an orange eye because I like it (and it covers up the big head). I haven't fished this fly yet, but I (and the fish) do like squirrel tail streamers!


Submitted By Bob Petti


HOOKMustad 3665A, #6
TAILYellow Hackle Barbules
RIBFlat Silver Mylar Tinsel
BODYBlack Uni-Stretch
THROATYellow Hackle Barbules
WINGWhite Kid Goat (original was white hackles)

Bob's Comments

Originator: Herb Welch Tying tip - Use the uni stretch in a bobbin as thread and tie the tinsel in as you're winding back to the bend, and the tail in as you "turn around". Tie off with black thread and wind the tinsel forward. Finish the fly as normal.


Submitted By Doug Saball


HEADBlack tying thread.
BODYYellow Chenille with peacock eyed tail feather fibers at each end much like the peacock fiber bunches on a Royal Coachman body.
WINGA small bunch of black bucktail tied over it.
SHOULDERJungle cock.
TAILa small section of red goose or duck wing quill feathers or a bunch of red saddle hackle fibers.
COMMENTSInvented by M.W. Burlingame; this is as it appeared in Herter's pattern book. I used yellow floss because I didn't have yellow chenille.


Submitted By Stack Scoville


TAILBrown mottled turkey wing (I used the "biot side" of the quill as it seemed to hold its curve a little better)
RIBGold Tinsel
BODYLight yellow silk floss-tapered
HACKLERed duck wing feather fibers, long, beard (I used dyed turkey tail or, on some of the flies, goose shoulder)
WINGRed fox squirrel tail
CHEEKSJungle cock- short (Omitted on these flies due to lack of quality material)
HEADBlack lacquered

>Stack's Comments

The taper to the body is a modification of the technique Mike Radencich described in his excellent book on tying the Classic Salmon Fly. I used two strands of cotton embroidery floss and tied it in about 3/5 of the way toward the head. Keeping the two strands side-by-side, I wrapped forward to 4/5 then back over the first wraps to 2/5 from the tail then forward to the wing tie in point and tied off the cotton. Then with tying thread I wrapped backward, with VERY flat thread, filling in any gaps all the way to the tail and then back to the wing tie in point. I then took Kreinik silk tied it in, wrapped all the way back to the tail and then forward, making sure that there were no lumps or bumps, keeping the floss absolutely flat, and then tied it off. Next, I took an small test tube and "burnished" the silk to flatten it even further. This technique is also described in Mike's book. After wrapping the tinsel forward and tying it off, I covered the entire body with clear Cellire lacquer. After drying, I tied in the throat, much like a small wet fly wing. The squirrel follows. Finally the head is cemented, and covered with 2-5 coats of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails nail lacquer.


Submitted By David Talley


HOOKMustad 3665A #8
TAGFlat silver tinsel
TAILGP crest
BODYBurnt Orange Floss
RIBFlat silver tinsel
THROATGuinea Fowl (slightly long
WINGGrey Squirrel tail


According to Bates' Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, the pattern originated in Scotland. The original recipe calls for a burnt orange chenille body. I didn't have any of that, so I used floss, which I think I like better anyway. The original also calls for a throat of grizzly hackle. I substituted guinea fowl.

Submitted By Bob Skehan



HOOKMustad 3665A Size 12
BODYFlat silver mylar
RIBfine oval silver tinsel
WINGSmall equal bunches of white, then red, then white bucktail.



HOOKMustad 3665A Size 12
BODYFlat silver mylar
RIBfine oval silver tinsel
WINGSmall bunch of white bucktail, over which is an equal bunch of red bucktail, over which are 4-5 strands of peacock herl.



HOOKMustad 9575 #10
TAILWhite-Barred wood duck flank
BODYFlat silver mylar
RIBfine oval silver tinsel
THROATWhite bucktail to hook bend, then a narrow strip of red duck quill 1/2 body length
WINGLavender bucktail, over which are 3-4 strands of peacock herl.
CHEEKSJungle Cock (optional)


Red And White
The two variations of the Red and White bucktail presented here show the original dressing which is pretty much a Mickey Finn with white bucktail substitued for the yellow, and the modern popular version which has the top layer of white bucktail replaced by peacock herl. I have to confess I haven't fished the original version at all since I'm generally a certifiable "peacock herl topping" junkie. Both patterns adapt well to all hook sizes, including tandem rigs for trolling. It's a very effective pattern all year long, but particularly in spring just after ice-out on Maine's lakes and ponds. I substituted calftail for the bucktail in this small version. Many times a white eye with black pupil is painted on the head of this pattern.

Governor Aiken:
This pattern, named to honor former Governor George D. Aiken of Vermont, is very similar to the Magog Smelt pattern, this bucktail is a must have for landlocked salmon fishing in my opinion. Some folks substitute a mallard flank shoulder for the jungle cock cheeks, particularly in larger trolling sizes...(making it even more like the Magog)...though I don't tie this pattern with either of them. Like the Red and White, it adapts nicely to all hook sizes and is a very popular trolling pattern tied in tandem. I used calftail in this particular sample as it was better suited to the size 10 hook. Note the peacock herl topping...see my comments above regarding my herl addiction. A peek into my streamer box would see this pattern sporting eyes painted white with black pupils.


Submitted By Will Taylor



HOOKMustad 9672 #8
THREADblack uni 8/0
TAGfine oval gold tinsel
TAILred hackle fibers
RIBfine oval gold tinsel
BODYyellow floss
WINGgrey squirrel
THROATbrown hen hackle fibers



HOOKMustad 9575 #8
THREADblack uni 8/0
TAGflat silver tinsel, #16 (also tied with gold tinsel)
TAILnarrow strip of red duck wing quill, long
RIBmedium oval gold tinsel
BODYyellow-orange dubbing (I used rabbit), or wool, picked out
WINGnatural brown bucktail from top of tail
THROATyellow hen hackle fibers


My dad had a wonderful box of brook trout flies when I was a kid, many of them tied on eyeless hooks with gut snells. This squirrel-winged version of the Professor was one of the patterns I recall, along with a strip-wing version using a woodduck flank wing. This is one of my favorite patterns for swirling into pint-sized pools on tumbling mountain streams. I just have to tie one on my tippet to go back to those barefoot days on Beehunter Creek.

Warden's Worry:
Developed by warden Joseph Stickney, of Saco, Maine; an old standard since the 1920's. I originally wanted to tie this with a squirrel wing, but a traditionalist on the list shamed me into "doin' it proper." I'm glad he did - it looks a lot better the way that Stickney intended it. (I do have a couple with fox squirrel wings in my bucktail wallet, but I'll be careful who I show those to).


Submitted By Clyde Watson



HEADBlack or Yellow lacquer
TAGFlat Gold Tinsel
TAILTwo Yellow saddle Hackle Tips
BODYYellow Chenille
WINGFox Squirrel
THROATTwo Red hackle tips
CHEEKSGold Metal "Edson" Cheeks


HEADBlk or Yellow Thread
TAILYellow Hackle Fibers
BODYYellow Chenille
WINGSquirrel Tail (Not sure if it's a Fox squirrel - red with black bands)
THROATRed Hackle fibers

Clyde's Comments

According to Bates' book, Edson incorporated "Edson" cheeks (gold metal cheeks) to replace the expensive Jungle cock eyes. Also of the five examples in Bates' book, I don't think any of them are tied identicle. He used various hackle types for the tail and even used furnace hackle for the squirrel wing. Seeing this I don't feel as bad for my simplified version. For me it's easier to tie, and still closely resembles the original pattern.


Submitted By Roger Whitcomb


HOOKMustad # 9575 Size 8
THREADDanville prewaxed 6/0
BODYMedium silver tinsel
WINGSparse white Polar Bear over which sparse yellow Polar Bear over which sparse green Polar Bear over which sparse blue Polar Bear over which 3-4 strands of peacock herl.Original pattern uses bucktail in place of Polar Bear and is necessay in the larger trolling sizes.
CHEEKSJungle Cock (original pattern has painted eyes-I prefer the JC in the casting sizes using painted black over white eyes on the trolling sizes)

Roger's Comments

I use this pattern in casting and trolling sizes including tandems. It works well right after ice out for squaretails in the pattern and size I have done for the swap however I do use it in size 10 & 12 also. I
believe that the natural flare and translucency of Polar Bear is a real attractor for squaretails and the other Trout & Salmon species as well. I normally fish it on the surface at that time and then as the water
warms up change to a sinking line. It also works well for Lakers during the summer months fished as a tandem @ 50'-60' either dead drifting or trolling.

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