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Black Prince
By H. Kent Helvie

The wet steelhead fly makes up a large diversified and important group of dressings. The term wet fly is a catch all phrase for those flies that do not qualify as a dry, Spey or prawn, etc. Some of these flies are traditional patterns but many are far from traditional, basic or standard yet they all fall into the same class by a freak chance of fate.

Many of these flies can challenge and test a tier's skill and patience. Their intricate design and unusual use of materials help make them unique. Others are what many professional fisherman call guide flies, flies that are very effective on the fish and are quick and inexpensive to tie because clients often lose a lot of flies. Big, lead eyed leeched patterns are good examples of guide flies but they can be nearly fatal if they hit you in the head.

Graceful low water flies also fall into this group. Many low water patterns are trimmed-down standard flies yet others are sleek flies specifically designed for this type of fishing. Quite often these flies are Atlantic salmon flies which we steelheaders have adaped to our needs. Although they have their own characteristics, these flies are still wet flies. It is hard to put low water flies in their own group because low water is generally a manner in which a fly is dressed rather than a pattern in itself...

A standard pattern on the North Umpqua [Oregon] for years, the Black Prince dates back to the late 1800s. Initially a trout fly its complete origin, along with its designer, is unknown. ~ H. Kent Helvie

Materials List: Black Prince

    Hook: Standard salmon or sheelhead hook.

    Tag: Oval silver tinsel.

    Tail: Red Hackle fibers.

    Body: Rear 1/3 yellow floss or wool; front 2/3 black wool.

    Rib: Oval silver tinsel.

    Collar: Black hen or saddle hackle.

    Wing: Black hair: bear, bucktail, etc.

Tying the Black Prince

    1. Attach the tying thread to the hook and bring back directly over the point of the hook and tie in a piece of fine oval silver tinsel. Wind it forward five or six turns and tie off.

    2. Tie in a small bunch of red hackle fibers slightly longer than the gap of the hook.

    3. Tie in a piece of medium oval silver tinsel and bring the thread forward about a third of the way and tie in a piece of yellow floss.

    4. Wrap the floss back to the tie-in point of the tail and wrap it back forward to the tie-in point of the floss and tie it off. Try to keep the floss flat and fairly thin.

    5. Tie in a piece of black yarn, bring the thread forward to about 3/16 of an inch from the eye. Wind the yarn forward and tie off.

    6. Wind five or six turns of tinsel for a rib, trying to keep them evenly spaced. The number of wraps is subject to your preference.

    7. Take a small bunch of black hair, about half of the total amount wanted for the entire wing, and tie it in with a few tight wraps of thread, making sure the ends of the wing come to about the middle of the tail. Add a small drop of head cement to the wraps.

    8. Tie in a black hen hackle with the fibers about a gap-and-a half length by the tip.

    9. Fold the hackle in half, take three or four turns of hackle and tie it off.

    10. Tie in another small bunch of hair with some tight wraps and cement. Let set a moment.

    11. Wind a fairly small head, whip finish it off and cement. The finished Black Prince.

    Publisher's Note: For more steelhead flies, see the Streamer Section in the Atlantic Tying Section.

    Credits: From Steelhead Fly Tying Guide by H. Kent Helvie, published by Frank Amato Publications.

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

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