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Orange Bomber
By John Shewey

Few avenues in steelhead angling can compare to the riveting excitement of rising these majestic fish to flies fished on the surface. Except perhaps for those rivers harboring small, trout-like half-pounder steelhead, most streams are most successfully surface-fished with dry flies designed to skate or "wake" on the water (as opposed to dead-drifted dry flies). These skating flies are fished in the same manner as a traditional wet flr: down and across on the swing. As with wet flies, the dragging action of the fly - counter to the current which sweeps everything else down river - seems to motivate steelhead to give chase. When a steelhead pursues a skating dry fly, virtually anything is possible. Often the fly simply disappears in a quiet, trout-like rise; other times widespread carnage ensues as a fish explodes on the fly. In all cases, the angler is left with shaking hands and a racing heart.

Materials for the Orange Bomber:

    Hook: Light wire salmon/steelhead.

    Tail: White calf tail.

    Wing: White calf tail.

    Rib: Fine wire or monofilament.

    Body: Orange deer hair, spun and trimmed.

    Hackle: Grizzly.

Tying Instruction for the Orange Bomber:

    step 1

    1. Using a strong thread (capable of spinning deer hair), attach a tail and wing, both made from stacked calf tail. Attach a long piece of wire or monofilament, binding it down along the shank.

    step 2

    2. Begin spinning deer hair onto the hook shank. Place each bundle directly against the previous one and push them together so they are as compact as possible.

    step 3

    3. Continue spinning bundles of hair onto the hook until you reach the front. Tie off and remove the thread.

    step 4

    4. Take a douple-edge razor blade, and bend it into an arc between your thumb and fingers. Run the edge of the blade along the spun hair from front to back, evenly trimming the hair. WARNING: Be extrememly careful when using the razor blade as they are very sharp. Some tiers prefer to prefer to prepare the blade ahead of time by using strips of duct tape to seal off the rear blade.

    step 5

    5. Being careful not to trim off the tail, rib, or wing, trim the body to shape and use fine scissors to finish the job.

    step 6

    6. The trimmed fly should have a cigar shape.

    step 7

    7. Reattach the tying thread and secure by its butt end a long grizzly hackle.

    step 8

    8. Reverse wrap the hackle and spiral the rib material through it to the front. In both cases (spirling the hackle rearward and the rib forward) wiggle the material back and forth as you spiral it along the body to make sure it sinks into the spun hair and seats itself close to the hook shank.

    step 9

    9. Tie off the rib material, clip the butt ends and whip finish the fly.

    step 10

    Blending old and new, Joe Rossano of Arlington, Washington, builds lips of hard plactic into some of his classic-style skaters to help them wake more effectively on the water's surface. ~ JS

Credit: The Orange Bomber is just one of the many great dry flies included in John Shewey's new book, Steelhead Flies published by Frank Amato Publications. The book also includes materials for steelhead flies; basic tying techniques; hairwing and featherwing flies; Spey and Dee styles; Practitioners, and shrimp and prawn patterns.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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