Danbob's Rat Dog Bluish-Gray Hairy Bug
It was the night before a critical fishing
trip on the headwaters of the Poudre River, Colorado.
Critical? My evil boss, a fish-bonking worm drowner,
was due to arrive at 5 AM the next morning so I could
teach him to fly fish for Cutthroat trout instead of
trolling for carp with a stale french fry. The only
trout he ever caught in his life was hooked by an
uncannily accurate cast with powerbait and a large
bobber. The impact knocked the fish unconscious for
long enough that he could snag it with the treble hook
on a Super-Duper with his second cast. I intended to
show him the magic of fly fishing, and troll for a raise.
By Dan Fink (danbob)
Unfortunately today's test run on Fish Crick produced
nary a nibble. I tried dries, wets, streamers, nymphs,
and stubby hair flies dyed with Kool-Aid that look like
orange cutthroat trout eggs. Upon my return home from
being skunked, I am getting nervous and mix some good
vodka with the Kool-Aid, trying to figure out what to
do. Twelve hours and counting--my only hope is the
strange bug I found hatching on the river this morning.
Some sort of grayish-blue hairy thing, which enlarged
would make a good monster for a cheap horror movie. I
look up "bluish-gray hairy bug" on Google and find
nothing except an ad for a nude fly fishing club—motto
"we don't need no stinkin' neoprene waders." Ten hours
and counting. Time for another glass of spiked Kool-Aid.
If we get skunked, I'm fired, so I'd better dig the fly
tying kit out of the backyard shed.
The first hint that something's amiss is the trail of
platinum-grade (and cost) grizzly neck hackle scraps
on the shed floor. A shiny glint in the corner reveals
my Orvis bobbin, and the end of my Thompson vise sticking
out from a hole recently gnawed in the wall. I pull on
the vise, but it won't budge without removing the paneling.
Indeed, the local packrats (Neotoma Ceneria, common name
"Bushy-Tailed Wood Rat") have moved in, and my entire fly
tying kit is gone, replaced by large chocolate sprinkles.
On first taste, I find out that they are NOT chocolate.
Time for more spiked Kool-Aid.
I start opening drawers and cabinets looking for my
missing fly tying supplies and tools and spot a
magnificent multi-colored packrat nest. It is
tastefully decorated with genuine Cree hackle wall
hangings, grizzly hackle throw rugs, a small but
attractive moose hair divan in the corner, with a
golden pheasant trimmed ottoman nearby. Beds made
of squirrel and muskrat dubbing are neatly arranged
along the outer walls, and there appears to be a
well-used commode in the other corner made from my
hair packing tool, a whip finisher and 2 bodkins.
Soon I see a large packrat smugly leering at me from
inside the cabinet. The pellet gun is nearby, and I
keep thinking "Squirrel tail, packrat tail, what's
the difference?" Pow! My entire fly tying kit now
consists of the Orvis bobbin, some kindergarten-grade
blunt scissors, an old clothes sewing kit, and a
packrat tail. I have only 8 hours to tie the elusive
"bluish-gray hairy bug" or my future fishing fun will
be limited to deep frying cod at the local Long John
Dubbing, I need dubbing in the right color! My porky
old Husky dog Kodiak snorts and sighs from her perch
on the couch. Shedding season is year-round for Huskies,
and she is also part Queensland blue heeler. That clump
of hair shedding off her tail looks to be exactly the
right bluish-gray color! Things are looking up.
Next I need the (to use the technical Entomology term)
pointy things that stick out of the bug's butt, plus
some hackle to float it. Not a good hackle feather in
sight, nor even any sort of feather to strip the quill
from to make the split tail, just scraps on the floor.
My hairy old white tomcat just happens to wander into
the room, and I notice those big long white whiskers
with the curl on the end. Here kitty kitty kitty! What
a nice kitty! SNIP! Perfect, though the cat disagrees
and goes outside. He soon brings back a dead bird that
hit the window yesterday. A quick squirt from the sink
sprayer liberates the dead bird from the cat, and now I
have hackle too. Genuine LGB neck hackle! 'LGB' is the
technical Ornithologist's acronym of 'little gray bird.'
No hair in sight for the wings, and my dog and cat have
both wisely left the area. I call my next door neighbor
on the phone, invite him over for a beer and tell him
"bring your dog, I got dog treats too!" The dog in
question is a white and brown Borzoi, 4 feet tall at
the hump with silky, lush, naturally curly long hair.
A beer for the owner and quick ear scratch for the dog
with scissors in one hand gives me some good wing material
from his tail (the dog's tail, that is). But the neck
nape hair is so much finer and better for hair wings. A
quick, faked, excited shout of "Hey, was that a bear I
heard rummaging around outside?" gets the owner out of
the room and gives me time to clip from a more visible
part of the dog. Borzois are about as intelligent as
plankton, so the procedure is easy. It worked on the
dog's owner too—I make a mental note of this. A small
snip on the still-warm packrat tail and I have all the
ingredients for an innovative new fly. My drill press
vise in the shop must suffice since the Thompson is
still stuck in the wall. I find a couple of rusty #12
bait hooks next to the old worm container in the garden,
and I'm in business for a night of frenzied fly tying.
The evil boss arrived at 5 AM as planned, and I gave
him 3 of my new "Rat Dog Bluish-Gray Hairy Bugs" to try.
The day was marvelous. As the golden spring sunrise lit
the moutaintops above us, 15 inch cutthroats in full
spawning colors rose to our home-tied flies, their hot
pink bellies perfectly matching the color of my eyes.
The evil boss even released all his fish, saying "I
just can't kill a fish that purty! Did I ever tell you
about the time I caught a 20 pound carp while trolling
with a stale french fry? Wendy's fries work much better
than McDonalds. I let 'em harden under the back seat of
my pickup for a few months, otherwise they fall apart
Recipe for Danbob's Rat Dog Bluish-Gray Hairy Bug
Hook: #12 bait hook from K-Mart, rusty for better camouflage.
Thread: Gray cotton, from Sew-n-Vac Inc.
Tail: Packrat with 2 divided white cat whiskers.
Wing: White Borzoi, naturally curly.
Body: Dubbed black, gray and blue Husky mix, remove guard hairs.
Hackle: LGB (little gray bird). ~ danbob
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