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>> Archive: Salmon & Steelhead Flies Spey flies to mixed wings, new innovations

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Topic Review (Newest First)
10-02-2003 03:05 PM
Nooksack Mac A few thoughts:
Mylar tinsel bodies can be made much more durable by putting a coating of head cement or other clear cement on the hook shank just before wrapping the tinsel. To reinforce more, run a bead of head cement along the top of the tinsel body. And as said, rubbing tinsel helps also.
A Winter's Hope sinks remarkably fast for an unweighted fly. McMillan undoubtedly had that in mind with his design; not even a tail, which would have a slight upward-planing effect on the fly.
You can knock off effective, quick "using" versions (the kind I carry in my Cannon Fodder box) using maribou: yellow veiled by dark orange. However, the original feather wings are not difficult to tie.
10-01-2003 01:07 PM
flytyer Philster,

Tie the fly as Pastortd does with G.P. crest as a wing topping, it will provide the same color effect as using golden olive calf tail. The color golden olive is really a bright yellow with a very slight (and I mean a very slight) very light olive cast to it. Golden olive is actually almost identical to the color of G.P. crest, it is only very lightly darker, so little darker that it is not worth worrying about.

Remember what I posted earlier about McMillan not knowing how to straighten and tie in G.P. crest feathers so they sit on top of the wing at the time he created the fly. I've seen Winters Hope tied be him more recently that have G.P. crest feathers as a wing topping.

For those of you who do not know this, McMillan has been living in the Skagit Valley for about the last 5 years. He still ties the fly on large standard salmon irons and still fishes it on a floating line with a very long leader (minimum of 12 feet long up to 20 feet depending on water depth). The large irons are for the weight to take the fly down. If you use sink tips, you can use any hook you wish to get it down.
10-01-2003 10:31 AM
Philster Hey Pastortd

One of my favorite bodies bodies for spey style winter's hope is back half oval tinsel, front half silver mylar shred type dubbing. Same hackle as your but wound together from the dubbed part of the body. yellow dyed amherst pheasant tippet underwing, orange goose shoulder wing, no golden olive topping (which Is why I asked you if it was an olive crest topping, I want some!)

I'm am one of those people whose flies don't last t that long, meaning I lose them long before they come apart. I catch a fish on a sinktip, I guarantee you I'll lose the fly on a snag within three casts

Which is why I cut off my fly after every fish and save them. Been doing it for years. The only problem is that after awhile you end up with incontravertable proof that you can only fish one or two patterns and catch as many fish as anyone else...
10-01-2003 09:24 AM
pastortd SH69 - I know what you meant. I was just being difficult. It is interesting that they were developed on such large hooks, but work so well in smaller incarnations.

Doug - Save yourself some $$ and frustration. Buy chinese necks or strung saddle (crocheted together in bags) instead of spey hackle for these flies. Much easier to tie and you will find the rachis much thinner. It is easier to make the wing work with those hackles.

Philster - FWIW, when I tie these for my own fishing I use silver diamond braid. Tough as nails and you don't have to rib it. Flat tinsel by itself only lasts through one fish or one rock before it breaks and unravels, corkscrewing around all your hard work. Braid does'nae do that.
10-01-2003 06:31 AM
striblue I agree with Fix's word... Bueatiful!
10-01-2003 01:26 AM
BCOrchidGuy Thanks Pastortd, I tried it with schlappen and it's way to webby, think I'll try it tomorrow with some Spey ( or... add $2 and remove 50% of the package) hackle...or go out tomorrow and buy some more stuff....

10-01-2003 01:26 AM
I think what was meant

Was that the flies true form is to be tied on large hooks. I have Bill McMillan's book, and he suggests them be tied on 1/0-5/0 partridge hooks. So, that's the designers method of tying them. BUT, and it's a REALLY BIG BUT. You can tie them anyway you want, and they will catch fish. What Bill's thoughts were was using a floating line in rivers where most guys would be dredging with heavy sinktips and huge bushy flies. This way he has a sparsely tied fly on a heavy hook that sunk it for him (per his book). I understand the method.

I myself, think they look really good smaller sized. But have not had a chance to really use them. Have tied them, but not use them. May give them a shot this winter if my shoulder feels up to it.

Don't think they were knocking you. You tie a super gorgeous fly. I'm always in awe when I see what you bring out. I just think they were bringing up the true intent of the fly in question. At least the intent Bill had when he published his dry line steelheading book. Not sure what he thinks today, since I don't know him.
10-01-2003 01:08 AM
Originally posted by roballen
2's totally defeat the purpose.
Och, I don't know. I've caught steelhead on #6 WHs! They actually work pretty well in a variety of sizes. Hmmm... don't know how much success I've had with larger ones come to think of it!

Doug - the hackle is from a rooster cape specially designed for SW flies. (I didn't want to plug a non-sponsor, so being careful what I say here.) They are nice because they have well rounded tips for the wings and long fibres for the hackle. You can use schlappen or Chinese hackle or whatever you find that is the right length. I like the shinier feathers (not much barb like schlappen has) because it makes the colours more vibrant in the water IMHO. That's just personal preference, though.

Thanks to the crew for the hair/GP crest info. Must say I like the way the crest curves with the feather and complements the hook bend.
10-01-2003 12:56 AM
BCOrchidGuy I'm really new at tying spey flies so I need to ask, the hackle and the forehackle, are they schlappen hackle or something else... sorry if it's a dumb question but, I need to ask.

09-30-2003 09:07 PM
roballen Stu is correct
In regards to the hook. to get the true intent of the pattern it needs to be tied on a large heavy wire hook 2/0 for shallow tail outs annd up to 5/0 for other locations depending on depth and speed. The commercialy available ones tied on 2's totally defeat the purpose.. This fly is designed to be fished on the swing with a floating line. The hook needs to be large and heavy.. Also the olive Bill used was not really olive but a drab yellowish green not a dark olive. I know he always had a difficult time finding the proper Olive calftail to suit his need for that fly and the Washougal Olive
09-30-2003 09:01 PM
flytyer Pastortd,

As usual of your flies, a very nicely tied fly.

To answer the question of why McMillan used yellow-olive calf instead of G.P. crest, it was because at the time he originated the fly, he had not learned how to straighten crest feathers or how to tie them in so that they stay on top of the wing. The yellow-olive calf is pretty close to G.P. crest in color and yellow-olive Veniard's dye was readily available for McMillan to use. There is no reason not to use a crest feather as a topping.


Not only does oval tinsel ribbing (usually silver but some flies use gold) over flat silver tinsel look elegant, it serves the very practical purpose of protecting the flat tinsel from getting torn apart; thus the fly lasts longer.

Folks, the torquoise listed in the original pattern recipe is what people on the west coast now call "Kingfisher Blue", and people on the east coast call "Silver Doctor Blue", a bright, light blue. In other words, the exact color that Pastortd used on the fly he pictured.
09-30-2003 07:23 PM

Beautiful fly. Inspires me to tie up some more now. LOL. But too bad mine didn't look like that. Love using those hooks. May have to try that instead of the standard salmon hooks.
09-30-2003 06:27 PM
Stu Farnham
Bill McMillan's pattern

Thomas, since you asked about the original pattern:

The Winter's Hope was developed by Bill McMillan of Washougal, WA. In his excellent book "Dry Line Steelhead", McMillan offers the following recipe (reproduced verbatim):

Thread: Burgundy 6/0 prewax
Body: Wide silver mylar
Hackle: Turquoise, long and weepy
Forehackle: Purple, long and weepy
Wing: Two deep orange hackle tips enclosing 2 yellow hackle tips (or pale orange)
Topping: Several strands of olive calf tail
Hook: 3/0 - 6/0 Partridge Std. Salmon

As the name suggests, McMillan developed this pattern for the cold water and high floes of winter in the Pacific Northwest, hence the large & heavy hook. He says that he tried a hairwing variaition but found that the hackle tips gave the fly more movement.

You can find color photos of the Winter's Hope and other of McMillan's patterns, tied by him, in Dick Stewart's & Farrow Allen's "Flies for Steelhead".

09-30-2003 03:32 PM
Philster It's a beautiful tie. I really like the ribbing. I never rib my silver flies, but everytime I see one with ribbing it always strikes me as one of the most elegant bodies out there. Per early writtings, including recipe in his "dry line" book it was golden olive bucktail. Never did say why he chose bucktail as a material. Love the blue and purple hackle. It looks like neon underwater.
09-30-2003 03:05 PM
Down memory lane!

For many years this was my main 'go-to' fly for winter steelhead. I think I got the orig. pattern from Trey Combs first book on steelhead fishing.
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