I can go through all of these flies and look at what was the hot fly of that trip, what didn't work, and what I tied but never fished. Yet I still tie flies prior to each trip. I've been Googling all sorts of nerdy things like 'great lakes steelhead alley stonefly' and 'great lakes intruder fly zonker.' And then going to the vise to perfect flies.
Of all the flies I tie for different species I will have to say that tying steelhead flies is my favorite. I get more joy from tying these colorful flies than any other pattern.
This year I am going to limit my patterns. Here they are and where you can find the background on tying them:
Hoh Bo Spey- one of the easiest intruder style flies to tie. Very few ingredients and easy on the wallet. The most expensive part of this pattern would be the Lady Amherst plume and the Senyo shenks. I tie them in a motif of two colors and have been playing around for the past three years. I've been tying up pink/purple, chartreuse/pink, purple/chartreuse, pink/white, and some others. I was asked to film me tying this pattern so here it is below. The most violent strike from a steelhead will result if you swing this properly. As an easy pattern to tie and not much in the way of work when fishing it, I choose this as my go to streamer. You'll notice that my melon gets in the way. I'll work on that for the next video. For this pattern, also check out Steelhead Alley Fly Tying.
Sucker Spawn - I go way back with this fly. Chad Chorney introduced me to this type of pattern way back in the day. How long ago you ask, like 15 years ago. One of the most simple flies to tie. I go two ways with this one: natural vs synthetic. My natural ones are either made from Angora rabbit or yarn. The synthetic version is tied with diamond braid. My most successful colors of natural are pink and white. I just ordered a few skeins of more angora from Ebay and can't wait for them to get here. In the synthetic form I prefer yellows and oranges.
San Juan Worm - There are those who do and those who don't. Kind of like picking your nose. We all do it, get over it. And yes chicks fart. Again I have two separate ways of tying these. The traditional San Juan made of vernille aka ultra chenille. Hot oranges, chartreuse, pinks, reds, and purple work for me. I tie mine about 3" long. The second variety is made from pearl braid. I don't burn the edges like a traditional worm. That stuff will melt on you (its plastic) and burn the skin right off your paws. I prefer to put a drop of Clear Cure Goo Hydro on the tips and hit it with UV light. Seals it and stays that way.
Soft Hackle, Flash Back, Bead Head Pheasant Tail - I started with black hares ears then olive. In 2004 I started tying with soft hackles. Tom's go to fly was always the flash back pheasant tail. I started tying them with a flash back. Over the years the fly has progressed to what it is now. I have a particular recipe I prefer and can tie several of these in not too much time. The latest advancement was the discovery of 12/0 silk nano thread. Some of my best fish have been taken on this pattern.
Blood's Dot - This is a new one to me. Beyond easy to tie. Credit goes to Tyler Straight for introducing this one. Very easy and inexpensive to tie. In the past two years I have landed some massive fish on this pattern. It looks incredibly real when wet. I've been writing this blog down for loads of customers at the shop. Good stuff. Want to know what to tie? Check out his site.
Evil Twin - The first of the intruder style flies I tied. Super easy. Video coming shortly. Takes just a few ingredients. I leave out the rib. My first year tossing these was magical. I'll never forget the violent strike on the chartreuse version. The fish swam under a tree and broke me off. What a rush. Pattern from Redspotfly.
Jumbo John - The first time I saw this fly was at Orvis Cleveland. I had no idea what the name was. You may remember the podcast from that trip. I didn't catch jack and was stuck in the hotel most of the time due to blizzard conditions. I do miss the free cookies at the front desk. So I had two of these in a clear box where they still sleep. I spent what felt like hours looking up 'rubber legged orange bead steelhead stonefly' or something like that. Finally I came across a video. I tie them in a variety of colors. The Charlie's Fly Box tutorial is pretty awesome too. Ivan from Urban Angler in Old Town ties some of these that will blow your mind.
Estaz Fly - I prefer a very soft 'estaz' style material. Just a few strands of Krystal Flash and wrap this. It works and its easy. I may try Estaz Spawn this year.