Fly Of The Week
By Ed Gallop

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Fly Tying Terms


I was introduced to the Skunk in the early 70's by a seasoned steelheader in Alaska.  Although popular in areas of coastal Alaska and Canada, a variation called the Green Butt Skunk may even be more popular, especially in other steelhead and salmon waters.

The Green Butt Skunk is generally credited to the grand photographer, Dan Callahan.  Other variations, not as popular, are the Peacock Green Butt Skunk, Red Butt Skunk, and the Purple Skunk.  The latter is nothing more than a  white-winged version of the Purple Peril.  There is even a spey version available at The Fly Shop in Redding, CA and a hair wing Atlantic Salmon pattern offered by W.W. Doak.  It has a chenille body and bucktail wing.  Another Atlantic Salmon pattern calls for a floss body and Golden Pheasant crest tail.  As you can see, there are many versions of the traditional Skunk.

The origin of the traditional Skunk pattern, as with many other steelhead flies, will remain a mystery forever.  Many believe it originated about 70 years ago in southern Oregon's North Umpqua, or by Wes Drain of Seattle for the Stillaguamish River in Washington.


Hook:  Your favorite steelhead streamer hook.

Thread:  Black 6/0.

Tail:  Red Hackle.

Body:  Black Chenille.

Ribbing:  Oval Silver Tinsel.

Collar:  Black Hackle.

Wing:  White Skunk under Black Skunk.Note:   I've also used white over black polar bear for the wings.

Tying Steps:

1. Tie in the red hackle fibers but don't make them too long.  I visualize the length to be the rear portion of the hook to the barb, or less.

2. Tie in the gold oval tinsel leaving the tag end along the hook shank as long as the body will be.  This will make for a more smooth shaped body (no hump at the butt).

3. Tie in the black chenille as pictured, leaving the tag end the length of the tinsel tag.  Secure the Chenille and tinsel with thread as you wrap toward the eye.

4. Wrap the chenille for the body and secure with a couple wraps of thread.  Be sure to leave plenty of room to tie in the hackle and wing and allow for a finished head.

5. Wrap the tinsel to form a rib along the body and secure well with thread, along with the chenille.

6. Tie in some black hackle fibers under the hook shank in a beard style.  The hackle should reach the hook tip but no further than the barb.  Then tie the black skunk (or deer, calf, etc.) hair on top of the shaft for the wing.  Secure well and build up thread as shown.

7. Tie in a small portion of white skunk hair (or deer, calf, etc.) over the black wing.  I used polar bear in this photo.  I sometimes use more white but most patterns call for a small amount.  It is the small white stripe over the wing that gives this fly it's name, not the use of skunk hair.

Fishing the Skunk:

The Skunk is a traditional Steelhead fly. At this time of the year, fishing becomes an endurance contest. The water is approaching the freezing mark, and the fish are not going to move far to take a fly. The cast should be to known fish. The Skunk should be fished on a short leader and sink tip line. A cast 90 degrees across with upstream mends will get the fly down. ~ Ed Gallop

Check out Ed's website, Fly Tying World for flies from all over the world!

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying and Intermediate Fly Tying.

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