Published Dec 13. 2002 - 21 years ago
Updated or edited Jan 8. 2017

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?"

This article should rightly be subtitled " what to do when you don't have the right material that a pattern calls for ?". The Ghost Shiner pattern originated by Lew Oatman and discussed on the Streamer Board appeared to be just the ticket for the New Jersey and Catskill streams that I fish. The pattern receipe called for sable for the wing and of course I didn't have any sable, or more correctly was not going to cut up and expensive art brush for winging material. Did you ever notice that as flytiers we go to shows, search and eventually find good materials suppliers, spend more money than we'll ever admit to ourselves and then finally say, "I have all the materials I need now!". Moving along on this thread, we come to the next new pattern that we're going to tie and find that we're missing an essential material! This is how the Ghost Reindeer Shiner came into being.

The Ghost Reindeer Shiner


  • Hook: Size 8, 4X long
  • Tail: Light Green Hackle Fibers
  • Body: White Floss, tapered
  • Rib: Medium Flat Silver Tinsel
  • Throat: A small bunch of fibers from a white hackle, as long as the gape of the hook
  • Wing: Light tan reindeer body hair
  • Cheeks: Jungle Cock, tied short

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 (Sable)

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!


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