Fly Of The Week

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

The Renegade (Bead Head)
By Gretchen & Al Beatty

When we talked with Deanna about writing a piece for Fly Anglers On Line our first question was the same we ask any other editor, "What are your writer's and photographer's guidelines?" She answered, "None!" We looked at each other in stunned silence. "Word count?" "What ever you want!" More silence followed with, "How many photographs and what format to do you expect?" "Any number and any format."

When we discussed this conversation later it reminded us of the chickens at Whiting Farms. After being penned in a barn for a number of months the birds would just stand at an open door making no attempt to escape. We always figured the outside world must have looked ntimidating to them and they elected to remain in the safety of a familiar environment. Now here we were standing at an open door looking out at the world. After years of strict word counts and photography expectations we were being set free. WOW! What a great, new experience! What fun to break free of the bonds of a paper/print writer.

When my husband and I first met in a corporate boardroom many years ago our conversation eventually focused on our love for fly-fishing. Anytime two fly-fishers get together the question of "favorite pattern" usually comes to the fore and it was no different for us. We both answered that question with the same response, "The Renegade." In my youth I had only three flies I used - a Royal Coachman Bucktail, a Gray Hackle Yellow and a Renegade. Over the years Al has used many different flies but always came back to the Renegade. One year (1983) he fished the fly exclusively in a range of sizes from #2 to #24 and remembers enjoying a very successful season. Today it is a predominant fixture in any one of our fly boxes whether it is intended for warm, salt, or coldwater environments.

This modified pattern has long been a favorite. It has always produced fish often when other flies do not. In looking at the history of the Renegade it was created as a wet fly and then evolved into the dry fly we see in the fly shops today. We've taken it back to its roots in a whole series of flies outlined in our most recent book, the Fly Pattern Encyclopedia. Today's offering is a bead head wet fly/nymph that has produced well everywhere - in salt, warm, and coldwater situations.

The Renegade is very easy to tie so our purpose is not to show you how it goes together. Instead we want share a couple of tying tips with the hope some of you might find them of value. Anyway, one of the things we enjoy about FAOL is the diversity of experience and helpful attitude within the member ranks. That's one of the biggest reasons we are pleased to be one of the site's sponsors.

We often follow the LaFontaine Theory of Attraction when making our pattern selection. Gary believed fish had preference for different colors based on their environment/light conditions and we find his theory seems to produce well for us. This fly was originally tied for the Gunnison River in Colorado where the canyon walls are a rusty orange color. Look at our materials list and see if you can identify the item supporting the LaFontaine Theory of Attraction.

Materials for the The Renegade (Bead Head)

    Hook: Size 6 to 14, 2XL.

    Bead: Brass, copper, black, or silver.

    Thread: Fire orange.

    Tag: Tying thread, Aqua Flex.

    Rear hackle: Brown hen.

    Body: Peacock herl.

    Front hackle: White/cream hen.

    Collar: Tying thread, Aqua Flex.

Instructions for the The Renegade (Bead Head):

Step 1: Slip a bead over the point/bend, slide it forward, and place the hook in the vise. Pinch the barb before doing this if you plan on releasing your fish. It's better to accidentally break the hook now before investing the time tying the fly rather than after. Apply a short thread base that begins at the end of the shank, travels down into the bend, and returns to the starting position. Notice how we reposition the vise so we have easier access wrapping into the hook bend. Also, because we endure the discomfort of arthritis, we find it easier on our shoulders to rotate the vise so we don't have to lift our arm to advance the thread down into the hook bend.

Step 2: Prepare a brown hen feather, tie it on, and wrap several turns to form a rear collar. In truth we've found the hook point can be a pain in...(you choose the body part). Therefore to make this step easier, we wrap the thread forward about three turns then advance the feather forward to meet it. Anchor the hackle with one thread turn.

Step 3: Use your fingers or a hair-packing tool to push the feather turns tight together at the back of the hook.

Step 4 & 4A: Wrap the feather an additional half turn, anchor it with a couple of thread wraps, and trim off the waste end. Wrap the thread forward to meet the bead (4A).

The purpose of the additional feather wrap is to tighten the hackle turns after pushing them together at the back of the shank.

Step 5: Select several peacock herl strands, bind them to the front of the hook by their tips, and trim off the waste ends. Pull the herl and the thread forward and hold them there while rotating the vise forming peacock chenille.

Step 6: Bring the chenille perpendicular with the hook shank and wrap it back to meet the brown hackle, tie it off, and wind the thread forward to the bead. Trim the waste ends of herl at the back of the hook. Be careful when trimming the herl to leave the brown hackle intact. Note: With a little practice Steps 5 & 6 are completed without ever stopping the vise rotation.

Step 7: Prepare a white hackle feather by stripping off the fuzzy material at the base of the stem. Tie it to the hook (tip forward) with several thread turns behind the feather. Make sure the last turn, though is in front of the feather. Trim off the waste end of the stem.

Step 8: Wrap the first two turns of feather BEHIND each other, the third BETWEEN the first two, and the last in FRONT ending tight against the bead. Tie off the feather, trim the waste end, whip-finish, and clip the thread from the hook. We like to complete the fly with a coating of Aqua Tuff or Aqua Flex. A coat of the same on the tag will certainly improve the fly's durability as well. A trick Gary LaFontaine shared with us was to place the glue on top of the bead head and use the thread in the whip-finish to drag the glue off the bead into the completed wraps.

Additional Patterns:

Other colors we've found quite successful employ florescent green thread (Madison, South Fork of the Boise, and Lochsa Rivers), red thread (Clark's Fork and Bitterroot Rivers), and yellow/gold thread (Yellowstone River). We suggest checking the predominant color in the environment around a river in your area then apply it to the Renegade as we have. You may be as pleased with the result as we have been with the pattern in our corner of the world.

Author's Note: This is the first piece we've written in more years than we can remember that we never used the "word count" feature even once. Wow! What freedom! ~ Gretchen and Al

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

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice