The Sea Ducer is an ancient dressing and actually
one of the oldest bass flies. It was first developed
and popularized in the 1880's as the Red & White Hackle
Fly. This classic fly has easily stood the test of
In his 1999 book, Presenting the Fly, Lefty Kreh
states: "This is one of the best patterns for both large
and smallmouth bass that I've fished. I never make a
trip without some of these in my box. Oddly enough,
I've tried many other color combinations, but none
is nearly as effective as red and white (some other
color combos do work in salt water, though)."
The original Sea Ducer was only about 2 1/3 to 3 inches
in length. Homer Rhode, Jr. actually dressed the pattern
much larger as a shrimp fly to take bonefish in the
Florida Keys. Joe Bates, in his 1950 edition of
Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, called
it the Homer Rhode, Jr., Tarpon Streamer. Today, it
is commonly known as the Sea Ducer. Chico Fernandez
used this pattern extensively and proved its worth
as a redfish fly.
The difference between what was used for decades and
what Rhode dressed was size. Today's Sea Ducer is made
at least 4 to 5 inches long and can be as long as 7
I'm not sure how they came up with the name Sea Ducer,
but it's a great name for a fly. Seduce in the dictionary
means "to tempt into wrongdoing." Throughout history,
seducers would dazzle with their appearance, stimulating
the imagination in a flirtatious way. Much like Casanova
who would dazzle a woman with his clothes, the Sea Ducer
allures fish of many species with it's seductive feather
Because of the many hackles radiating out from the
palmered shank, and its long undulating tail, this
fly lands on the water softer than most large
saltwater patterns. The tails act like miniature
outriggers giving a natural action while the palmered
body adds both color and movement, as well as, creating
lots of fish attracting vibrations when stripping in.
When drawn through the water, the hackle body
provides enough size to move some water, thereby
attracting attention. Yet when paused, the palmered
hackles cause the fly to settle more slowly, thus
suspending it in the water column and making it
ideal for shallow water fishing. The soft
presentation and the ability to hold the fly
almost stationary in front of a fish can make
it so tantalizingly seductive that it is
irresistible. For fishing in weedy areas, a weed
guard is added. For fishing deeper in the water
column, lead wire is added to the shank.
Sea Ducers can be fished day or night, fast or
slow. Red and white are the traditional colors;
however, other color combinations can be used in
various sizes for many different species throughout
the world, both fresh and saltwater. In freshwater,
the Sea Ducer dressed in appropriate colors and sizes,
works well for many speces such as largemouth bass,
pickerel, pike, barramundi and trout.
It is a proven pattern for all types of game fish
including stripers, blues, weakfish, drum, snook,
redfish, tarpon, bass...and the list goes on.
Recipe Sea Ducer
Hook: Mustad #3366 for freshwater in size
2 for bass and pickerel - Mustad #34007 for saltwater
in whatever size you choose.
The original Red and White Hackle has inspired many
other flies that are still in common use today.
These include such flies as used for, tarpon,
bonefish and many offshore patterns.
Thread: Red or a color to match the fly.
Body: A good foundation of tying thread
and three to five saddle hackles palmered in close wraps.
Use a red hackle in front of the body.
Tail Two or three saddle hackles on each
side, tyed splayed out, with two or three strands of
Krystal Flash outside of the hackles. The hackles for
the body should be about one and half times the hook gap.
For the tail, they should be wide and about twice as long
as the hook.
With the addition of bead chain eyes, Dan Blanton of
California developed the Whistler series of flies for
fishing deeper. They were called 'Whistlers,' because
of the noise the bead chain eyes make whilst traveling
through the air when casting.
Like any good recipe, one should learn the basics
before tinkering and adjusting so as to eke out
the particular idiosyncrasies that suit a particular
fish species or fishing situation. ~ Alan & Richard