Welcome to Eye of the Guide

Part Thirty-four


The Flies for Arctic Grayling in Alaska

Part 4

Text by Deanna Birkholm
Photos by Bob and Jeannette Fairchild

The Flies

This series would not be complete without giving some clue as to the flies Bob and his fishing cronies use. If you have been reading this series, Bob not only can 'talk the talk' but has photos to prove success.

He had a few that didn't make it back from the photo lab in time for the previous articles, so those are scattered through this one. The lovely young lady is Bob's neice Davya, who shows the results of only second fly fishing experience. Obviously, she had a great time!

Bob's niece Davya

Here are the flies mentioned in Part 1:
Clockwise, beginning at the top: Beadhead Damsel Nymph, Black Gnat, Gray Hackle Peacock (Dry), Adams, AP Black Nymph, Elk Hair Caddis, Fur Ant (black), Kings River Caddis and Tennessee Bee. In the middle, Wooly Worm.

Grayling Flies

The three flies Bob uses the most are detailed by him below.

King's River Caddis

Hook:  Standard dry fly #10-16.
Thread:  6/0 tan or black.
Body:  Poly dubbing to match natural (I tie most in tan or gray, but have also tied these in olive and amber.)
Wing:  Mottled turkey (or grouse).
Hackle: Brown (or to match natural)

  • Dub the body.
  • Prepare wing by coating with Flex cement. (I usually coat a large section of turkey feather in advance so that I can tie several at a time.)
  • Fold wing and attach. Cut at 45 degree angle to achieve the "tent shape" of a caddis wing.
  • Attach and add 3-6 wraps of hackle.

    I use poly dubbing for all of my dry flies, but the original pattern calls for racoon. Use what you have!

    I think of this a primarily a slow water or still water pattern. However, it's really become my favorite caddis pattern, period. It is quick to tie and the fish love it. The only problem with the fly is that it's not real durable. After even a couple fish, the wing is usually shot. The good news? The fish don't seem to mind the torn up wing! Keep fishing with it until you get refusals.

    Gray Hackle Peacock

    Hook:  Standard dry fly - size 10-16.
    Thread: 6/0 gray.
    Tail:  Moose hairs (3-6).
    Rib:  Copper Krystal Flash.
    Body:  Peacock herl (about 3 strands).
    Hackle:  Grizzly.

    The name is most often associated with the wet fly pattern. But, the "dry" version has become one of my favorite attractor patterns.

  • Tie in tail.
  • Next, tie in rib and peacock herl. To make the fly more durable, wrap the herl and rib around the thread several times and then wrap everything forward as one big rope. (This will rib the fly at the same time as you create the body.)I really like using Krystal Flash instead of wire for ribbing on my dry flies because it is very light weight. Always be aware of the materials you use on a dry fly and how it effects the flies ability to float!
  • Tennessee Bee (Variation)

    Hook:  Standard (or 1xl) dry fly hook, size 10-14.
    Thread:  6/0 or 8/0 black.
    Rib:  Black floss (coated with Flexcement).
    Body:  Yellow or orange poly dubbing. (I usually use sulfur orange).
    Wing:  Moose hair.
    Hackle:  Brown (furnace) - dry fly quality.
    Head:  Poly dubbing (same color as body).

  • Prepare the rib by coating with Flex Cement. Allow it to "set up" slightly.
  • Tie in rib at bend of hook.
  • Dub a cigar shaped abdomen - fairly bulky - over the back 1/2 to 2/3 of the hook.
  • Wrap rib.
  • Tie in wing. The wing should extend back slightly farther than the bend of the hook.
  • Tie in and wrap hackle (about 3-4 turns).
  • Dub head.

    I have only seen this pattern in one book - "Flies for Trout" (Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen). The first time I saw the fly, I decided just by looking at it that it would catch fish. It does! The fly above is a slight variation from the pattern in their book.

    This is one of those flies that catches fish on both streams and still water. Along with being a good yellow jacket or bee imitation, it's also proven to be a decent fly when the stoneflies are hatching.

    Good fishing, everybody. And most important... have FUN doing it. :-)
    ~ Bob Fairchild

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