We first learned of this fly from a fiasco. We were
headed for the Fly Retailers trade show in Denver, CO
last summer with plans to fish the gold-medal stretch
of the Colorado River near Parshall afterwards. As we
packed our gear, I couldn't find my tent poles anywhere.
I searched frantically, with no luck. So we hit the
Sportsman's Warehouse in Littleton on the way out of
Denver, so I could buy a new tent. On their river
conditions report board, it listed the Parshall
stretch of the river, and recommended the Yellow
Sally as a caddis imitation there, among other patterns.
We bought a few, and went fishing. The fly worked very,
very well in Byers Canyon, and looked easy to tie. Oh,
and I found my tent poles at the bottom of my backpack
when we made camp — I'd already had them packed the
whole time. The new tent is really nice, though...
By Dan Fink (DanBob)and tied by Ken Sample (hotrodkas)
So, we tied up a whole bunch of Yellow Sallies for the
FAOL fish-in in Lowell, Idaho last fall. Sure enough,
they worked GREAT imitating the big October caddis in
the area. We fished them exclusively for almost the
entire trip, and tied up a few in the Rumpus Room at
night. They performed better than our other caddis
patterns, probably because the rear of the fly rides
low in the water like an emerger (or egg-laying caddis)
while the front floats high, and the red tag imitates
an egg case. Here's what we were trying to imitate:
And here's the results, from the Selway River:
Here's the recipe that we use. One of the key aspects
of our fly tying philosophy is to mix things up with
every pattern — try it with different hook shapes and
sizes, slightly different color variations, different
tag colors, and more. We've including pictures of some
of these variations here, too.
Materials for Yellow Sally:
HOOK: #8-#14 curved scud or caddis emerger shape. See also
pictures of hook variations below. The key is the curved
shape, so the back of the fly rides low. In a pinch, you
can take a standard dry fly hook and gently bend it in
the middle of the shank with needlenose pliers before tying.
THREAD: Cream or light cahill.
TAG: Red floss.
WING: High-quality bleached deer or elk hair.
HACKLE: High-quality yellow dyed dry fly hackle,
undersized. For hook sizes 8-12, we use hackle sized for #18.
Note the curved hook shape in the photo below, it's
critical. After starting the thread, tie on the red
floss at the hook bend and wrap a tapered egg case
tag. Wrap a thin, well-proportioned thread body.
Pick a clump of your favorite bleached deer or elk
hair for the wing and eliminate the chaff from the
base. High-quality hair will float better. Even up
the tips in your hair stacker, and eliminate any
short hairs. The final amount of hair is small, and
should be about double the width of the hook eye. Hold
the hair 1/8 inch above the hook, give it a wrap in
the air, then tie down. Loop behind the hair clump to
make it stand up at the correct angle. Trim and wrap
thread forward to cover loose front ends.
Pick an undersized, high-quality yellow dry fly hackle
and tie on. Wrap forward all the way to the hook eye an
tie off, this fly has no head. Use a hackle guard to
keep things out of the way, and whip finish with only
3-5 wraps. Secure this with a tiny bit of cement — don't
soak the all-important hackle in cement.
If you like to use floatant, dress ONLY the hair
wing and the hackle with it — don't dress the thread
body. The fly should ride butt-down in the water at
As always, we like to mix it up when tying. Every
so often, a seemingly 'silly' variation will prove
to work better than the original. Here are some other
variations that we tied up for this article. All of
them have worked as well as the original. And all of
them have curved hooks.
Ken's Stretch Sally: As above, but use a long hopper or caddis hook.
DanBob's Yellower Sally: Scud hook, bright yellow dyed elk
hair instead of bleached.
DanBob's Yellower Thorax Sally: As above, but trim bottom
of hackle thorax-style. If the hackle is good quality the
fly will float nicely.
DanBob's Bent Yellower Sally: As above, but on a San Juan
worm hook and with full hackle. ~ Dan Fink (DanBob) and Ken Sample (hotrodkas)