Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
September 5th, 2005

Danbob's Rat Dog Bluish-Gray Hairy Bug
By Dan Fink (danbob)

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.

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 Silvers.

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 too quick."

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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