Steelhead Fly of the week Deer Creek [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Steelhead Fly of the week Deer Creek

01-18-2007, 02:38 PM
This is a winter fly meant to be fished deep and slow on a sinking line. The inventor is Bob Arnold, noted steelhead author from Washington state.

Hook: Up eye salmon hook.
Tail: Red hackle barbs
Rib: Oval silver tinsel.
Body: Flat silver tinsel.
Wing: Purple marabou.
Throat: Purple marabou.
Collar: Silver doctor blue hen hackle.
Head: Black

01-18-2007, 10:50 PM

I find myself saying, "Ahh, my friend Bob's fly" because he used to fish it so much on the Sauk, Skagit, and Stilly that I would be surprised if he tied on another fly during the late fall, winter, and spring.

Bob never tied it as a spider, he simply lashed a tip of marabou on top and bottom and then wrapped a collar of webby silver doctor blue (the old atlantic salmon silver doctor blue, which is really a medium blue and which I've seen called Kingfisher blue by some suppliers, and not the light blue that most suppliers now call silver doctor blue, which used to be called silver blue).

The fly was named for Deer Creek, the famous tributary of the Stilly.

Unfortunately, Bob, who is 74 now, hasn''t fished for steelhead in 4 years. The last time he fished, I fished with him and he landed a gorgeous Deer Creek native of 6 lbs. After unhooking the fish, he cut off his fly, unstrung his rod, and said it was a very good way to quit fishing for steelhead. Despite my best efforts to get him out again, he has not gone steelheading and now fishes for trout and bass with his fly rod in the small lake located 11 miles from me that he has lived on since his wife retired and they decided to move out of Seattle.

My younger son, Reuben age 15, who is watching over my shoulder as I type this, mentioned him remembering us running into Bob on the Stilly a lot when he was younger and stopping by his lakeside house so he could fish off Bob's dock for stocked trout in May. (He just rolled his eyes and said, "Old people.")

My friend Russ Miller (another Stilly, Sauk, Skagit, and Skykomish fisher) uses a very similar fly year round that he ties without a body or tail on a nickle Alec Jackson Spey Hook from #1.5 down to #7. He simply calls it the Blue and Purple Marabou. Here is the pattern for Russ's fly:

Hook: Alec Jackson Spey Hook in nickle (silver)
wing: purple marabou tip followed by a medium blue marabou tip tied on the
bottom of the hook.
thread: Danville Flymaster in either red or black

Russ ties it upside down so the hook point rides up lessoning the number of times he hooks the bottom or snags.

01-19-2007, 08:07 AM
Great story Russ,

But its too bad he stopped fishing. Dont know if I ever want to make that choice.

I will have to make some up with the darker blue hackle. The Russ Miller fly sounds interesting. Very simple.


01-19-2007, 09:36 AM
I've run into a cheerful and friendly older gentleman fishing off the beaten path on the Stilly fishing these colors a few times over the years. I recall one summer day when I was surprised that this man hooked up on such a pattern in mid-day conditions. I was going total stealth mode to no avail. May have been Bob Arnold now that I think of it, this was in the early 1990's.

Anyway I learned my lesson that day, these colors are often overlooked but very effective for steelhead.

01-19-2007, 09:34 PM

Bob started to lose interest in steelhead fishing a few years after the Wenatchee was closed to fishing, which was either September 1996 or September 1997. Bob really loved going over the Cascades to this river and often spent the better part of a week at a time staying on the river bank in his tent trailer (which he sold in 1999 since the Wenatchee was closed) in an orchardist's friend of his orchard.

Then when the winter runs started to drop in 1999, Bob told me that he was glad that he had gotten to experience some of the best steelheading earlier in his life and that if the runs continued to drop, he was going to quit winter fishing, which he did in 2001.

And when the summer runs declined in number, it was getting to be too much for Bob resulting in his decision to stop fishing for steelhead 4 years ago. I sure miss fishing with him and would prefer (somewhat selfishly I must admit since he is such a good friend) that he still fished for them like George McLeod, who is now I think 84.


It was most likely Bob who you used to run into since he used his Deer Creek fly well into the summer and he was always more than willing to give a wave and then stop and chat with fly fishers he ran into on the river. Bob also never bothered going fishing before 9 or 10 in the morning and would stop for lunch about 2 in summer. He would then go back out around 6 and fish until dusk. These hours he referred to as those of civilized men. He definitely caught his share of fish despite waiting until mid-morning to go out.

01-20-2007, 10:01 AM
Many thanks for the story. Bob's book was one of the most enjoyable I've read. And along with Haig Brown he's certainly among the fellows I would have loved to fish with.

01-21-2007, 10:19 AM
Hey, Charlie,

This is a great looking fly; I'm about to tie up a bunch of them for winter fishing here.

The combination and blend of colors should work well also for silvers this fall.