Our Man In Canada
January 31st, 2005

Tradition and Innovation
The Lake Erie Perch Fry
By Sheldon Seale

The yellow perch is one of the most prolific small fish in the lower Great Lakes and, besides being a popular panfish with anglers, it is a signficant item in the diet of most larger predatory species of fish. The Lake Erie smallmouths, which I fish for regularly, are particularly partial to perch.

Over the years, I've experimented with a number of numerous established patterms, but although I've had success with them, I've never been overly satisfied with the way they look in the water. Consequently, I worked on remedying this and eventually came up with the Lake Erie Perch Fly. It's proven to be a very effective smallmouth pattern, not only on Lake Erie, but elsewhere in Ontario, too. In fact, it should work well on any gamefish which have an appetite for perch.

As with many of my other patterns, the Lake Erie Perch Fly is not exactly original, but a combination of features borrowed from a number of established effective patterns. The idea was to give an impressive of the appearance and behaviour of perch fry in the water. The tie can be a little complicated to get right, but I've found that even my less than perfect attempts seems to work.


    Hook: Mustad 9671 or 9672 or equivalent, sizes 8 to 4.

    Thread: White and olive, 6/0.

    Tail: Orange wool from the skin.

    Body: Silver Mylar piping, length of the hook shank, weighted.

    Throat: Orange wool from the skin.

    Wing: Equal amounts of pearlescent under peacock green Krystalflash, extending just past the hook bend.

Tying Step

1. Weight the middle of the hook shank with the lead wire of about the same diameter as the hook. Be generous, but leave room both at the back of of the shank and behind the eye where more materials will be added later. Start white thread (if you don't have white, use olive throughout) and secure the wire front and back with little ramps of thread. Attach a small tuft of orange dyed ram's wool cut from a skim patch at the bend. If you must use prepackaged wool which has been detached from the skin, comb it out a little. Leave the thread near the hook bend.

2. Measure a length of silver Mylar piping equal to the overall length of the hook and slip it over the hook shank. Tie in the piping at the bend with 4-5 tight wraps of thread and tie off thread with a whip finish knot at the back of the shank.

3. Restart olive thread just back of the hook eye. Tie down the front of the piping making certain that the body is smooth. You may have to trim a little excess mylar at this point. Add a throat of orange wool equal in length to the hook gap.

4. Tie in a wing of equal amounts of Krystalflash or similar material, pearlescent first, then peacock green. Trim the material at a point just past the tail. Don't overdo it, you want to aim for a relatively slender effect overall. Form a noticeable, neat head of olive thread and whip finish. Finally, trim the thread and coat with your favourite lacquer or head cement. You could add eyes with material paint or enamel. Try yellow with a black or red pupil.

Current Issue

I know what you're thinking. Where's the yellow and where are the olive verticle bars on the sides of this pattern? The truth is that under water, despite their name, yellow perch are more green than yellow. I've also found that the red accents, suggesting open gills are more important than verticle bars. If you must have yellow, substitute gold Krystalflash for the pearlescent.

Fishing Notes

The Lake Erie Perch Fly is relatively small compared to most bait fish patterns, and can be fished either as a traditional wet fly or as a streamer in both moving and still water. It also works well trolled behind a float tube or pontoon boat, especially if it's teamed up with something much bigger, such as a red and white Bunny Fly. Finally, don't go too light on the tippet, for when smallmouths take this fly they do so with authority. ~ SS

Credit: Excerpt from the January/March 2005 issue of The Canadian Fly Fisher. We appreciate use permission.

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