Fly Of The Week
Rat-Faced McDougal
Rat-Faced McDougal
By Skip Morris

Excerpt from The Art of Tying A Dry Fly
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 82112, Portland Oregon 97282
Phone: 503-653-8108

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

Rat-Faced McDougal

Harry and Elsie Darby, the famous fly tiers of Roscoe, New York, made popular this fly that Harry said was created at his request by "Percy Jennings, an amateur fly tier from Cold Spring Harbor, known among anglers for the time he caught a 3 1/2 pound brown on a backcast." The Rat-Faced McDougal was originally tied with grizzly-hackled-tip wings, but Harry wrote in his book Catskill Flytier that white calf-wings were "more visible, just as effective." He never mentioned the fly's tail, but I would be tempted to use white or tan calf tail for it, though I've stuck with Harry's ginger hackle fibers here.

Materials List:

Hook:  Standard dry fly, sizes 16 to 10 (the hook shown is a Gamakatsu F 13).

Thread:  White 8/0 or 6/0 (I prefer 3/0 because it really secures the hair wing); for the spun-hair body, gray size-A rod-winding thread.

Tail:  Ginger hackle fibers.

Body:  Spun and shaped deer or caribou hair.

Wings:  White calf tail.

Hackle:  Ginger.

Tying Instructions:

1. Start the trout-size thread right at the bend; use just enough tight turns to really secure the thread. Strip, measure and use the pinch to tie in a bunch of hackle fibers for a tail, and then trim the fiber's butts - keep the tail wraps short. (Note that we are not tying in the wing first as usual; this is typical with spun-hair-bodied dry flies.)

2. Switch to the size-A thread. Snip a bunch of deer or caribou hair from the hide and comb it (shown is caribou). strip the butts of the hair square and neat.

3. Work the bunch down around the shank. The squared butts should extend back slightly from the bend and cover the thread wraps. Take two turns of thread over the hair and hold the hair in place as you draw the turns tight. If all this is done with modest care, you won't have to shape this part of the body later.

4. Comb, spin, and compress bunches of hair to about midshank (a total of two to four). Whip finish and trim the thread.

5. Trim the hair to a tapered body.

6. Start the trout again. Comb, stack, and then measure a bunch of calf tail; snip its butts to a length that will put them right up against the body. Tie in the calf tail using the reverse pinch. Cover the calf tail's butts with tight thread turns. Divide the hair into two wings and set them upright.

7. Size, prepare, and tie in two or three hackles. Wind the first hackle forward in spaced turns to the eye and secure the tip with three tight thread turns; do the same with the second hackle and finally (if there is one) the third. Trim the hackles' tips and finish the fly as usual. ~ Skip Morris

Fishing Suggestions

This is a very traditional fly - upstream and dry (unless you too would like to try for a 3 1/2-pound brown on a backcast. ~ dlb

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