Speaking of Bill McMillan flies [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Speaking of Bill McMillan flies

10-01-2003, 02:24 AM
Been tying up some of his flies. Been reading his book, and am gonna try out some of his techniques. So thought I'd post the paintbrush I've tied up. Not exactly like he ties. But figured why not show it off.


Gonna be putting this one to the test this winter. Had a hard time finding a reddish/orange hackle. But, figured the orange I had was about right. But I've never been known to follow the instructions anyways. I'm a rebel when it comes to MY flies. :hehe: Now a customer, well that's a different story.

10-01-2003, 06:29 AM
That;s really nice... great job on the hackle profile.

10-01-2003, 09:32 PM

Reddish-orange hackle is nothing more than what we now call Hot Orange, the color you used on your rendition. Whenever you see reddish-orange for hackle in the older flies or fl. orange for that matter, it is what we now call hot orange. The older designations simply were to distinguish hot orange from the orange used on Carrie Stevens trolling flies, which is usually called pumpkin orange these days.

10-01-2003, 11:33 PM
Well done! very nice fly, if your going to fish these flies as Bill did you better start looking for some big iron's to sink them. I remember years ago wanting to fish only the floating line, and wanting to stick with it right through winter and spring. I found with the right hooks and mending techniques you can do that, infact it was a learning experience I would recommend to anyone.Steelhead on the floating line in winter is almost as good as dry fly in summer in fact it's way more technical fishing.


10-02-2003, 09:03 AM
The original hook McMillan recommended for this fly is the Mustad 7970, Nos. 1-2. (pg 58 in Dry Line Steelhead). It is a heavy wire and sinks fast. It also needs to be sharpened to be at its best.

10-02-2003, 09:57 AM
Those hooks are awfully hard to get, T-Rich! I think a TMC 3761 does a fine job, myself, although #2 is the largest you can get. The overall effect is a little more graceful than the old, boxy 7970 as well.

All JMHO, of course. Too bad there aren't more TDE salmon irons available!

10-02-2003, 10:37 AM

Send me a pm if you want some. I have a few hundred that I will never use.

10-03-2003, 02:54 PM
Re TDE hooks, the TMC 700 is a very burly one that might work well for the Paintbrush. Sharp, too.

Another TDE steelhead/salmon hook is the Partridge CS2 S.E.B., a very graceful hook with a looped down eye. I found some of these a few years ago in a closeout basket, size 8, & have enjoyed them. the low-water weight is too light for the Paintbrush, but thy make beautiful little searun cutthroat & summer steelhead flies.



10-04-2003, 12:43 PM
I hooked my very first winter steelhead on a Paint Brush. it was 1985. I was fishing a powell 9'6" 9wt built by Bill in my very favorite winter run riffle on the Washougal called "Skelton's". It was a cold mid morning in Feb with moderatly low water condition. Half way down the run I make a case as far up and across as I could putting 5 stack mends into my floating line and 12 foot leader. Just as the line flaoted even with me the tip stopped and started moving upstream I struck hard and a nice fish of 10 pounds came flying out of the water. I stripped in the slack as fast as I could but as soon as it came tight the fly pulled free.
Now I live in an area where winter steelhead populations are totally and completely destroyed and I have found that hatchery winter runs to be EXTREMELY poor biters on flies so my winter flyfising is somewhat limited but I think if a guy was willing to do the work you could catch just as many on a floating line as with tips. a big part of floasting line (unweighted flies) fishing for winter steelhead is knowing where you can and cannot do it effectively.

Nooksack Mac
10-04-2003, 10:04 PM
Just out of curiosity, I did a comparison between Size 4 Mustad 7970 (which is 5X Stout) and a Size 4 Eagle Claw 1197B. Measuring for weight, wire diameter, and maximum length:
The 1197 is 7.0 grains, .047" and 1/1/4". The 7970 is 8.2 gr., .050" and 1-3/16".
Another interesting possibility is the Daiichi 2141: medium-weight, black, sproat bend, 1X or 2X long, with a straight tapered eye.

10-07-2003, 12:15 AM
7970's are not hard to find. Anglers Workshop carries them, but, I have also seen them at the Red Shed Flyshop. Try MJC, he has em.