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The Convertible
By Scott Sanchez, Jackson Hole, WY

The Convertible was born from the need for a versatile One-Fly pattern. The Jackson Hole One-Fly competition happens in early September on the Snake River in Wyoming and Idaho. The bulk of it is on the Wyoming side, where the beautiful, native fine-spotted cutthroats make up almost 100 percent of the wild trout population.

This prestigious event allows an angler to fish one fly for each day of the contest. If you choose the wrong fly, your fly comes apart, or you lose it—you're out.

I've tied many of the flies for the One-Fly. I needed a fly for my clients that would cover multiple conditions, multiple hatches, and relieve the hysteria of having to choose a single fly. It's wild how people who make high-dollar corporate decisions every day can be brought to their knees by the momentary dilemma of which fly to tie on to fool a lowly trout. Fly fishing is a huge priority.

One-Fly conditions on the Snake sometimes make it difficult to choose a fly. Mornings are very cool in September; ice in the bottom of my boat is common. And cutthroats don't wake early unless nature gives them a reason. This makes dry-fly fishing slow before midday. Most hatches occur in the afternoon, so streamers are a good choice for the predacious Snake River cutthroats. Also, Claassenia stoneflies —large, nocturnally emerging insects—can motivate the fish, making rubber-leg nymphs a good option. As the day warms, insects and the fish become more active. Hecuba mayflies, similar in size and appearance to a March brown, caddisflies, and hoppers come into play. Pale morning duns and blue-winged olives appear in some sections of river. This conglomeration is a tough bill for a single fly to fill, and for One-Fly '91, I had the daunting task of creating a new "super fly."

It made sense to base the fly on existing proven patterns. The ability to trim it down was a given. My answer was to put together a Woolly Bugger/Tarantula/Trude/Wulff.

I wanted the fly to become a Wulff when it trimmed down, since Wulffs look enough like mayflies to work and are excellent Snake River attractors. To give it bulk, I decided to tie in a large Trude-style wing and then use the butts to form the Wulff wing. A marabou overtail was added for the streamer look, and of course it had to have rubber legs.

I spent the summer testing The Convertible against proven flies. Good news: It kept even with or close to the standards. Surprisingly, the marabou tail fished well dry. I guess the trout might have taken it for an injured insect. I trimmed the fly and fished it in different forms with very good results. The fly was ready for the real test.

During the 1991 and '92 contests, various anglers fished the fly with success and were pleased with its versatility. In '93, Bob Slamal of Riverside, California, used the Convertible to compile the highest point score ever for one day. He fished the fly intact with the marabou tail for the entire day—the fish were doing backflips to get it. I needed a name for it and Convertible seemed logical. One year when fishing was tough, Brian O'Keefe fished it intact, then trimmed his fly to a Trude, a spinner, and finally a nymph. Not many flies offer that versatility.

Since its creation, the Convertible has become one of my favorite attractors. It has evolved into a set of patterns. By pure accident, I came up with a fly that imitates fluttering insects. Stoneflies, caddisflies, damselflies, and dragonflies all have two sets of wings that are spread when flying. Also, the profile of lots of wing and legs with a sparse body is similar to that of a cranefly. During heavy caddisfly hatches, I think it's eaten as a caddis cluster.

I hear stories from other anglers about the Convertible: brook trout and rainbows in Vermont, cutthroats and bull trout on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Kentucky smallmouths. Those are just a few. The fly has become a standard in Livingston guides' fly boxes. Bob Slamal calls me every year for a Convertible order to use when guiding around Pinedale, Wyoming.

The Convertible is its own clearly visible, permanently floating strike indicator. It can be fished and tied with or without the rubber legs; different kinds of rubber can be used. For smaller sizes, synthetic wings are an option. Fish it in its entirety or, if needed, trim it to a Wulff or Trude. Without legs, a Convertible doesn't take any longer to tie than a traditional Trude or Wulff. The advantage is that with this single fly you now have multiple flies in your box. Some of my favorite variations are royal, peacock, blue damsel, salmonfly, yellow Sally, and olive.

The Convertible is a fly that puts you in the driver's seat.

~ Scott Sanchez

Materials: The Convertible

    HOOK: Dai Riki 320 standard dry fly, sizes 8 to 14.

    THREAD: Rust-brown UNI 8/0.

    TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length.

    BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear two thirds of the shank.

    RIB: The tying thread, doubled.

    LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs, two and a half shank lengths.

    WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing should be one and a half shank lengths and the Wulff wings one shank length.

    HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, one and a half hook gaps.

Tying Instructions: The Convertible

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on it. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the bend of the hook for a tail one shank-length long.

    2.Make a dubbing loop with your thread for the rib.

    3. Dub the rear quarter of the hook shank.

    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a V.

    5. Tie in a rubber leg on the far side of the hook shank. Trim the legs; they should be about two shank-lengths long from the tie-in point.

    6. Dub through the legs and then make one or two wraps in front of them; you should now be halfway up the hook shank.

    7. Twist the doubled thread and rib the body with it. Be careful not to trap the rubber legs.

    8. Clean and even a bunch of calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail.

    9. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wings. Wrap your thread in front of the butts to lift them up.

    10. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile and to make the two Wulff wings. Post the wings with thread.

    11. Trim the wings to a shank length. I often trim the ends of the Wulff to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors will also work.

    12. Tie in a grizzly and a brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wings. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

    13. The finished fly.


    HOOK: Dai-Riki 320 standard dry fly, sizes 8 to 14.

    THREAD: Red Wapsi Ultra 70.

    TAIL: Moose body hair.

    BODY: Alternating Scintilla Peacockle dubbing and tying thread.

    LEGS: Medium black rubber.

    WINGS: White calf tail.

    HACKLE: Brown.


    HOOK: Dai-Riki 320 standard dry fly, sizes 14 to 18.

    THREAD: Black 10/0.

    TAIL: Moose body hair, approximately one shank length.

    BODY: Scintilla Peacockle dubbing.

    WINGS: White calf tail.

    HACKLE: Grizzly.

    ~ Scott Sanchez

Credits: The Convertible is just one of the many excellent creative flies in the new book, The New Generation of Trout Flies by Scott Sanchez, published by Wild River Press. You can order a hardbound, spiral edition ($39.95)directly from their website.

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

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