Matt Jorgensen - Flyfish@ Smelt Swap

FF@ Smelt '98 Logo
Submitted By Matt Jorgensen

HOOK Streamer Hook, Size 4
THREAD 6/0 Uni-thread, black
TAIL Golden Pheasant Tippets (Original calls for golden pheasant crest feathers)
BODY Flat Silver Mylar Tinsel
UNDERWING Red Bucktail
WING Blue Dun Marabou (Original calls for white marabou)
TOPPING Peacock Herl
CHEEKS/EYES None (Original Calls for jungle cock)

Matt Jorgensen's Comments On This Pattern

Tying Instructions

  1. Tie on the thread and wind back to the bend.
  2. Tie on a few golden pheasant tippets for the tail. For this size hook you can tie down the tail at the 2nd black band on the tippets. Trim or bind down the excess along the hook shank.
  3. Wind forward to the just behind the hook eye, making sure to form a smooth thread base for the tinsel.
  4. Tie on the tinsel, wind back to the bend, and then wind forward to the eye covering the first layer of tinsel. Tie off and trim.
  5. Tie on a small bunch of red bucktail for the underwing. I like to use a trick I first saw on Martin Joergensen's home page. (Raske's Note: Now Global Fly Fisher!) Martin suggests first wrapping a loop of thread around just the butts of the hair before tying it down. This helps to insure that the hair will stay on top of the hook where it belongs. A great technique that I use whenever I'm tying down bucktail or other somewhat unruly materials.
  6. Next tie down a small bunch of blue dun marabou. This color is somewhat hard to find but I think it really adds to the fly. Page Rogers, an inventive SW fly tyer from Rhode Island was the first person I saw use this color for tails on her epoxy striper flies. I thought it looked great for smelt imitations, too.
  7. Next tie down a few strands of peacock herl for the topping.
  8. Form a thread head, tie off, and cement.

Pattern Comments

I originally wanted to put together my own smelt imitation but after about 4 or 5 really hideous looking flies I decided to go back to Joseph Bates' Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing and look for a classic instead. I've always had good luck with marabou streamers, so the Ballou Special really jumped off the page when I first saw it. And it turns out that this was one of the first marabou streamers EVER. Seemed like a good choice.

But, of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone and had to muck around with the original. I will tie up some originals and see how my variant compares.

First, the tail. I wanted to use golden pheasant crest feathers but didn't have any. I tried a test pattern using the golden pheasant tippets and really liked the look, so I kept it that way.

As I mentioned in the tying instructions, using blue dun instead of white marabou seemed like another obvious choice. The original calls for two marabou feathers, but I prefer a much sparser fly and only used about one-third of a feather for each fly. More would probably be fine, but I've been making an effort to keep my streamers sparse and I like the result.

The original, as you would expect, calls for jungle cock cheeks. I agree that the jungle cock makes the fly look much nicer, but in my limited experience I have yet to see a noticeable fish-catching benefit to the jungle cock. I thought about adding the cheaper fake jungle cock stick-ons, but don't really like them. The recipient is welcome to paint on some eyes if they wish. I meant these to be fishing flies and I concluded that cheeks/eyes weren't necessary. I am, however, open to suggestions to the contrary.

I have yet to try this pattern on the water so I'd be especially interested to hear how people fair with them this spring.

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