In the early days of British Columbia's steelhead
fishing, fly fishing was considered to be a warm-weather
activity and, through the colder days of autumn, winter,
and early spring, fly fishers hung up the fly rod and
took out the Silex-equipped spinning rod and fished with
either a Devon minnow or a prawn. A prawn-user during the
cold weather, General Noel Money of Qualicum Beach, about
60 or more years ago, realized that f fly with the
red-orange colouration of a cooked prawn may prove an
effective steelhead pattern and he devised his Prawn Fly
or Red Fly as he sometimes called it.
For years it was one of the staple British Columbian
steelhead patterns, but Rogue River Steelhead also
found it a delectable dish as these 1928 notes from
the General's game book attest:
Oct. 22-25 Rogue River 10 fish
However, with Bob Taylor's introudction in the 1960s
of Colonel Esmond Drury's General Practitioner and its
popularization in the 1970s, the Prawn Fly fell into
3 fish Oct. 25, best fish 9 1/2 pounds
Lost a fish having no gaff - at least 12 pounds
All on prawn fly. No. 1 and 1/0
It shouldn't have. On the Dean's Camp Run I opened
by fly box and examined the patterns all in neat rows.
The rain through the night had made the river somewhat
couloured and, with the light conditions, I thought
I should put on a fairly large, bulky-bodied, bright
fly and amongst my favoured and dominating, black-bodied
General Practitioners nestled some number 2 and 4/0 Money
Prawn flies. I chose a number 2 Prawn Fly.
In the next half hour as I worked my way through the
pool with my double-handed 15-foot Orvis Spey rod,
15-foot sink tip, and Prawn Fly, I landed two steelhead,
each about eight or nine pounds in weight. Later in
the evening, I resorted to the Prawn Fly again after I
had a good pull from a fish on another pattern and was
unsuccessful in getting the fish to take that pattern again.
Sometimes, a change in pattern, backing up a few paces
and coming through again works. The Prawn Fly took
another female steelhead, a 30-incher this time.
After landing the 30-incher, I headed back to camp
content with the day's fishing: six takes, five
hooked, four landed, and three on General Money's
Prawn Fly. Not a bad day at all.
Hook: Number 4/0 to 3
Tag: Silver tinsel
Body: Orange wool
Rib: Silver tinsel
Hackle: A palmered red hackle
Originator: General Noel Money
Intended Use: Wet fly for steelhead
Location: Stamp River, British Columbia
~ Arthur James Lingren
Credits: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia,
by Arthur James Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications.