I tied the pattern from his instructions and it was ghastly. Big orange puffs on a hook that was way to big. It never worked. I didn't blame Chad, I blamed myself.
Fast forward several years later to 2004. Tom and I were fishing with Joe on the Salmon River in New York. Our go to flies at that time were the flashback pheasant tail and the estaz fly. Joe told us to keep up with the estaz pattern a it was bright and looked different than other flies being used and the steelheads would probably go for them. Tom was hooking up left and right.
The pattern finally stopped working. Joe took out a tiny puff of yarn on a hook and called it a sucker spawn. He said we should try that. It was a cream colored fly with red thread. Sure enough the steelhead were hammering that pattern in the Lower Fly Stretch. We lost all of the flies and used strands of my Barbour sweater to tie some up on the stream (Tom and I always take a vise with us ).
We were exhausted by 3pm or so (we had been up since before sunrise) and headed back to Joe's camp to have some beer and cigars. Joe and I drove together and stopped at this random store next to I81. The store had a bit of everything from food to clothing to crafts.
Joe made a bee line (not b line, its named after the path a honey bee takes when traveling from food source to nest. People would watch the bees leaving their feeding ground and follow them back and make notes of the path they took. The path eventually led them to the hives where there was a cache of honey. The honey was then taken as a food source. The path the bees took from food to hive is known as a bee line. And the bees use polarized light to see) Joe picked out a cream colored yarn and we headed back to his camp. Its a terribly easy pattern to create:
- Take curved nymph hook. We used Mustad Signature C67s Egg 2x Heavy/ 3X Short.
- Tie down 3 strands of crystal flash.
- Cut about 6 inches of yarn and separate it into 2 strands.
- Tie in one strand above crystal flash, over the point.
- Make small loops about 1/4inch and point them back toward the bend, tie down.
- Keep this up until you get just behind the hook eye and tie off your thread and cut.
My pattern had rainbow crystal flash as the tail, several loops of braid for the body, and the kicker is a couple of puff of stuffing from my dog's toys.
The fly looked great and the wet stuffing made the fly look like it had been fertilized. We caught a bunch of steelhead and salmon in the Black Hole that year. That was the last year the Black Hole was open to the public. Troy and Kiwi Dave both landed some big fish in a downpour.
I tried fishing the pattern out west on the Colorado tailwaters when Tom was fishing eggs. It was March of 2010 and he caught a monster cutthroat and I got nothing. I stopped fishing my Eastern patterns and went back to my Western favorites.
That fall I went up to the Salmon with my friend Chris. I was using the fly I now called the 'sucker meth' as it was a hybrid of the two patterns. Chris insisted on fishing purple buggers. I caught the above stelehead at sunrise on the second to last morning. The next day we fished lower down. I was swinging my fly through a deep hole and the line went tight. I set the hook and my 11' 8wt rod was instantly bent in half. Line was coming off my reel as this fish headed back to Lake Ontario. I put the fighting but into my gut and starting to work the fish.
I thought I was hooked into a king salmon. Chris ran for the net and I swung the exhausted fish to the shore. Upon netting the fish we realized it was a monster brown trout.
Some more pics from that legendary 2004 trip: