Our Man In Canada
June 23th, 2003
Prawn Fly

Prawn Fly
By Arthur James Lingren

In the early days of British Columbia's steelhead fishing, fly fishing was considered to be a warm-weather activity and, through the colder days of autumn, winter, and early spring, fly fishers hung up the fly rod and took out the Silex-equipped spinning rod and fished with either a Devon minnow or a prawn. A prawn-user during the cold weather, General Noel Money of Qualicum Beach, about 60 or more years ago, realized that f fly with the red-orange colouration of a cooked prawn may prove an effective steelhead pattern and he devised his Prawn Fly or Red Fly as he sometimes called it.

For years it was one of the staple British Columbian steelhead patterns, but Rogue River Steelhead also found it a delectable dish as these 1928 notes from the General's game book attest:

Oct. 22-25 Rogue River 10 fish

3 fish Oct. 25, best fish 9 1/2 pounds

Lost a fish having no gaff - at least 12 pounds

All on prawn fly. No. 1 and 1/0

However, with Bob Taylor's introudction in the 1960s of Colonel Esmond Drury's General Practitioner and its popularization in the 1970s, the Prawn Fly fell into disuse.

It shouldn't have. On the Dean's Camp Run I opened by fly box and examined the patterns all in neat rows. The rain through the night had made the river somewhat couloured and, with the light conditions, I thought I should put on a fairly large, bulky-bodied, bright fly and amongst my favoured and dominating, black-bodied General Practitioners nestled some number 2 and 4/0 Money Prawn flies. I chose a number 2 Prawn Fly.

In the next half hour as I worked my way through the pool with my double-handed 15-foot Orvis Spey rod, 15-foot sink tip, and Prawn Fly, I landed two steelhead, each about eight or nine pounds in weight. Later in the evening, I resorted to the Prawn Fly again after I had a good pull from a fish on another pattern and was unsuccessful in getting the fish to take that pattern again. Sometimes, a change in pattern, backing up a few paces and coming through again works. The Prawn Fly took another female steelhead, a 30-incher this time.

After landing the 30-incher, I headed back to camp content with the day's fishing: six takes, five hooked, four landed, and three on General Money's Prawn Fly. Not a bad day at all.

Prawn Fly

    Hook: Number 4/0 to 3

    Tag: Silver tinsel

    Body: Orange wool

    Rib: Silver tinsel

    Hackle: A palmered red hackle

    Originator: General Noel Money

    Intended Use: Wet fly for steelhead

    Location: Stamp River, British Columbia
    ~ Arthur James Lingren

    Credits: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia, by Arthur James Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications.

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