Our Man In Canada
November 7th, 2005

Saint Joe's Deceiver: Deadly for Pike

By Nick Pujic

Without a doubt, one of the most accomplished and influential fly tyers during the past few decades is Lefty Kreh. Lefty's tying innovation creativity are legendary and there's hardly a species of game fish that swims for which he hasn't designed a particularly effective pattern.

One of Lefty's most significant and treasured contributions to our fly boxes has been his Deceiver pattern. This saltwater baitfish imitator can be tied in just about every size and colour combination imaginable and is among the top producing patterns for just about every predatory species out there—including pike. The Deceiver's minnow-like silhouette, its seductive movement and its flash are very reminiscent of its real life counterpart, giving it a significant edge underwater when tied in natural colours. Conversely, a Deceiver tied in chartreuse and red, or any other bright colour combination can be a deadly attractor pattern when pike are extremely aggressive or shy away from flash.

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Because the main forage for pike on Lake St. Joseph are ciscoes and lake whitefish, we tied big silver/blue Deceivers on 7/0 hooks to imitate these—and they worked! This 8 inch monstrosity of a fly, inevitably dubbed "Saint Joe's Deceiver," literally caught fish after fish after fish, but what was most impressive was its ability to produce even when other flies could not. Despite its intimidating size, the Saint Joe's Deceiver also proved to be a very effective pattern for big walleye. This variation of Lefty's timeless pattern is a solid bet for muskie and big pike in any body of water where whitefish or cisco are the staple forage.

Tying Instructions Saint Joe's Deceiver

1. Secure the largest fly hook you can get your hands on. I use saltwater hooks simply because of the large scale they are made on. However, anything big, sharp and strong will work.

2. Start the thread near the middle of the hook shank. Build a layer of thread, working towards the bend of the hook. Tie in four to six white, webby saddle hackles at the tail, so that they are concave (curving towards each other). It's important that these saddles be as even and concave as possible, as the tail will act as the "rudder" of the fly. If there's too much "lean" in one direction, the fly will spin when retrieved.

3. Tie in six to eight strands of pearl Krystal Flash to the tail, trimming the ends to various lengths, some of which should extend past the saddles. Add two grizzly saddles (one on each side of the tail) tied in concave to the white saddles.

4. Attach an 8 inch strand of pearl mylar tubing, pearl tinsel, or diamond braid to the base of the tail. Wrap the thread forward along the shank, leaving about 1/3 of the shank before the eye of the hook. Palmer the mylar tubing forward creating the body of the fly in the process.

5. Prepare two clumps of long, white bucktail, each a little smaller in diameter than a standard pencil. Tie in one clump on each side of the fly, creating the collar, or shoulders. Do not allow the bucktail to spin around the shank.

6. An optional variation is to add two more grizzly hackles as a wing at this point. However, this is entirely up to the tyer. Tie in an equal clump of blue bucktail on top of the fly, then add short, red flashing material as the throat on the bottom of the shank. Trim any excess. This completes the throat and collar of the Deceiver.

7. Tie in six to ten strands of long (five to six-inch) peacock herl directly over the top of the blue bucktail on top of the fly. The peacock herl will darken up the top of the fly and gives supple movement to the pattern, contrasting nicely to the more rigid bucktail.

8. Use the 3/0 thread to create a pronounced head on the remainder of the hook shank. Once the head of the fly is complete, tie off the thread and apply prismatic 3D stick on eyes. Finally, coat lightly with 5 minute epoxy and let dry.

Credits: We thank the Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!

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