Bob Petti's Comments On These Patterns
These were the first Magog Smelts I had ever tied. The inspiration to
choose this pattern came from the sample included in S&A's "Flies for
Atlantic Salmon". I thought that dressing was particularly handsome, so
I wanted to give it a try.
The key with this fly, and any fly with a tinsel body, is keeping as
smooth an underbody as possible. I started my thread at the bend and
wrapped back, bringing the tag tinsel with me. I wrapped the tag (long,
like in S&A's book) and tied it off, tied in the tail, then secured the
waste ends of both as I wound my thread slowly and carefully up the
hook shank to the where the back of the head would be, finally trimming
any left over waste from the tail/tag. Now I tied in the ribbing tinsel
and slowly and carefully wound back to the tail, bringing the tinsel
with me (everything gets tied on the bottom of the shank), making smooth
touching wraps with untwisted thread. When I reached the tail, I wound a
final layer of thread back to the hook eye, making every effort to keep
this layer as smooth as possible, because the mylar tinsel is coming
next. At the head, I tied in the mylar tinsel and wound it to the tail
and back in touching, but not overlapping, turns, keeping constant
tension on the tinsel to make it lay as flat, smooth, and tight as I
The body was the hardest part of the fly, and took the most time. The
thread I used was Danville 6/0. When untwisted, it lays super flat on
the hook shank and is a real help when trying to keep a smooth underbody
for any fly, whether it will be covered with tinsel or floss.
After the body was done, my next challenge was avoiding bulk in the wing.
It's sounds silly, but it's hard to build a three layer bucktail wing
without making it overly thick and bulky. Each layer feels like it's just
a few hairs from the tail when you tie it in, and you'd swear it was not
enough, but when all three are taken together, it looks full, yet not
bulky. Getting each layer to "separate" so you can see each band of color
was tricky, but a good strong "pinch and loop" did the trick.
The rest of the fly was pretty straightfoward.
Fatal Attraction (smelt)
The Fatal Attraction style was designed by Dan Blanton. He was looking
for a new pattern to imitate salmon smolts when fishing the coastal
rivers our west. The first he called "The Natural" which isn't a heck
of a lot different than the one I submitted as a smelt. The first time I
saw his fly was in the premier issue of "Fly Tyer" magazine. Something
hit me, and I knew it would be a fish catcher. A black and orange version
has been my number one salmon fly on the Lake Ontario tributaries the
past couple of seasons.
Dan's Fatal Attraction is not so much a specific fly pattern, but rather
a fly design which lends itself to infinite variation. Since I had
already submitted one standard classic pattern for the swap, I wanted to
send in something a bit unique, so I chose to dress a Fatal Attraction
in smelt-like colors. The only deviation from a standard Fatal Attraction
is the bit of red dubbing at the front end of the body. It seems that a
splash of red near the head of the fly is popular on many smelt patterns
and I did not want to omit this detail from my fly, as I believe it's
one of the triggers that will entice a fish to strike.
I believe the fly has two key design features. One is that long tail
of flashabou, which Dan feels is a flyrodder's answer to a rotating
spinner blade. I'm not completely convinced of that, but it sure does
flutter and twinkle in the water like no other fly I've seen. The
other unique design is the way the hackle and wing are tied. The hackle
is tied in a full collar and the wing is tied immediately in front of
this. I believe the little "bump" from the hackle keeps the wing up a
bit and prevents it from fouling around the hook bend. I've fished the
FA numerous times now, all with wings extending to the middle of the
tail (well beyond the bend), and I've never had one foul. The fly fishes
I think the silver body and tail, white hackle, and a sparkly lavender
and herl wing will make a decent smelt pattern. If anyone hooks a fish
with one, I'd sure appreciate knowing about it.