Published Apr 11. 2013 - 10 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 7. 2017

The Chicken or Pasta Fly

Too much about airplane food... and too little about fly tying and fly fishing. An ancient pattern from the Illustrated Pattern Swap year 2000.

Three flies - Three Chicken or Pasta flies
Chicken or pasta?
Martin Joergensen

This was my boring and bland entry to the IPSY2K - the Illustrated Pattern Swap year 2000. For those who weren't around back then, the IPS was a fly swap where no flies were swapped, but illustrations of same were distributed amongst the participants in stead.
I don't remember if I ever finished it, but something tells me that I didn't, because the original text ends abruptly, and there's only three pages finished, where I'd suspect that four would be a more sensitive number for printing. Nevertheless I dug it out, and now - more than a decade later - it can become an article here on GFF.
So let me take you back to just before the millennium change:

My original text - slightly rewritten

I admit that this IPSY2K Pattern Swap Entry will be a statement more than a pattern. But do not despair, there is some fly related material in here - somewhere. I will just use the opportunity to put forward a few opinions on something which is only remotely relevant to fly tying and fly fishing... and then again, maybe it is.

I am extremely tired of airplane food. It has been a long time since I actually had a meal on an airplane, which I enjoyed. Might have been on my 1st class flight to Japan, might have been on a cross Atlantic SAS flight to Seattle, might have been on the Air Canada flight from Montreal to Iqualuit... no matter what, it is a long time ago... too long.
The idea for this IPS entry came to me over airplane food trays. I took a weekend in New Jersey to meet up with friends at the Somerset fly tying and fly fishing show, and to get there and back I had to take four different airplanes. That gives you time to think! Not only are the flights long, but there is little else to do but think about the miserable plane food and plan an Illustrated Pattern Swap.

Bento - Now, the Japanese know how to do a meal-on-the-fly. This was what greeted me on a bus ride in Japan when I opened my \"in flight meal\"
Japanese Bento
Martin Joergensen

For some reason airplane food has to be extremely non-intrusive - bland, tasteless, overdone, pale, nutrient poor, non-fat, non-cholesterol, non-sugar, non-spice... close to non-food actually... I fully respect Kosher, Muslim, vegetarian and other limitations based on faith or mere opinion, but the rest of us? Can we please have some food with character and style? And don't Muslims and Jews like tasty food?

Another thing is the way it's served. It's cold on one side and boiling on the other. The roll on the diminutive plate is frosted while the butter or cheese is melted because it leaned up against the warm tin foil all the way through the cabin. Everything is neatly packed and stacked in such a way that it will never ever fit back on the tray once you have started breaking it down. And breaking down is the right word, because if you thought you were supposed to get into the little bag with cutlery without breaking a nail and poking yourself with the fork...well, you were wrong! Did you think the lid was supposed to come of the juice without a gigantic splash of juice over your clothes? Hah! Did you imagine that the little read tab on the Edammer cheese was for opening it? Not!
You could be tempted to think that these things were built to last in order to save. It could be a way of making airfares less expensive. But as everybody knows, this is not the case. Nothing makes air fares less expensive!

On a bed of brushes - A Chicken or Pasta Fly on a bed of Siman brushes: dull tan squirrel ones and brighter red flash ones
Boring! - Well, maybe, but surely an easily tied and efficient fly.
On a bed of brushes
Martin Joergensen

OK, I know I'm digressing from the subject on hand: the IPSY2K. An illustrated fly swap. Flies like in fly fishing not like in airplanes. So why am I talking about air plane food? Well, first of all because this fly was conceived on an airplane between the US and Europe while digesting the bland meal.
The usual question had been posed to me: chicken or pasta?
Why not beef, pork, lamb... even fish? Always chicken or pasta. The most harmless foods in the negative sense of the word. I admit that both chicken and pasta can be delicious, but not on airplanes... well, off I go again! It is hard not to. The fly it was.

This fly was a variation of a fly that I have done times over - the Zonker. But I had some really neat dubbing brushes that I wanted to use. These are made by Czech Jan Siman, who does a zillion variations of copper wire and dubbing. Thanks to Jan's generosity have a grand selection of these and always wanted to use them for my general fishing flies.

When I came home I selected a tan and a red one and combined with natural rabbit fur cut into narrow Zonker strips it made... well, a bland fly. A neutral fly. Actually a boring fly. A real chicken and pasta fly.

The Bonker - You can just barely see the Bonker, which is the top, left fly in this frame given by my friends and I to the club Fly-fishers Bornholm.
The Bonker, barely visible
Martin Joergensen

The fly fishes well but has taken absolutely no fish! It seems of no interest to Danish sea trout, and I am not proud to put it on my tippet. I'd much prefer my Fair Fly, which has character and style or a more or less nameless Zonker that was baptized the Bonker as a contraction of Bornholm and Zonker. It has a hackle and uses mylar tubing for the body. These two Zonker flies have much more charisma and I feel better when I try to put them in front of a fish somewhere.

There's one thing about the Chicken and Pasta Fly that I like... the hook! It is a great Stinger type of hook from Gamakatsu, a Japanese company that makes some really good hooks. They even take the salt, that I offer them, quite well. That is the only tasty ingredient of the fly if you ask me. Anyways, should you ever want to make the Chicken or Pasta Fly, here is how.

Chicken or Pasta Fly
Pattern type: 
Cold saltwater fly
Martin Joergensen
Great, well proportioned, beefy Gamakatsu SC15 - Wide Gape, curved, size 4 or 2
Bland, boring black 6/0
Plain copper wire - unvarnished so that i becomes dull in no time
Pre-made, drab, boring, sand colored Siman dubbing brush on copper wire
Dull, tasteless red dubbing brush - also Siman
Natural, not overly interesting rabbit zonker strip
Ordinary tying thread
Skill level/difficulty: 
  1. Tie the rib over the hook bend.
  2. Follow by the tan brush.
  3. Cover the shank with the tan brush, leaving a bit of space for the red one.
  4. Cut surplus and cover the stub.
  5. Tie in the red brush and wrap it a turn or two.
  6. Cut surplus and cover the stub.
  7. Leave a bit of space for the skin strip and the head.
  8. Tie in the strip just behind the hook eye and pull backwards.
  9. Tie it down with the rib in a few open turns and finish the rib just behind the hook eye.
  10. Trim rib and form a small head.
  11. Whip finish and varnish.

Check out Czech Jan Siman's web site for tonnes of dubbing brushes.


Now, this is written 13 years after the above was done, and I might call the fly boring and bland above, but honestly: I'd fish it any day!
It's a very nice and very fishy pattern, that's one of these no hassle flies, which will cast easily, work nicely in the water and certainly entice a sea trout strike if fish are about. And it has caught fish although the last one disappeared ot of my box many, many years ago.
I fished it on my standard setup: a neutral shooting head on a 5-6 weight rod, a knotted tapered leader about one rod length (9' or 3 meters) and a 0.23 millimeter or 2X tippet.

I cast it out and made sure my leader was stretched in the cast, allowing the fly to land gently and without spooking any fish close by. I let it sink for a few seconds and retrieved it as I always do: in foot long pulls with suitable pauses now and then and a sudden jerk if I felt like it.

Sea trout often strike after a pause, so be alert if you sense that fish are around. Any nibbling or "fifth sense" or gut feelings that there are fish near the fly, simply pause and let it sink, and then commence the retrieve again. That will mostly induce a take.

Not taken on a Chicken or Pasta Fly  - But it could have been...
A coffee break - Fashion in wading jackets in the year 2000
Back then - A fish from the period where The Chicken or Pasta Fly was born
Y2K fishing impressions
Steve Schweitzer - Henning Eskol


Nice fly, no apologi...

Nice fly, no apologies needed.

Martin, This i...

This is a neat looking streamlined fly even though it may be a drab earth tone color. Maybe even a pan seared chicken
or burned pasta version, in black, would be a productive fly. It is time to break out the old Jan Simian dubbing brush device.
You are about to embark on another plane ride; pack a tasty food parcel.

Great looking fly. I'm going...

Great looking fly. I'm going to use it for Bull Trout, Pike and Walleye


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