Fly Of The Week
Coffin Fly
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Coffin Fly
By Tom Six

Walt Dette and Ted Townsend (a game warden from Westchester County, NY) created this fly. They are considered co-designers of the pattern.

One version of the fly was tied with black hackle tips for wings and was first tied on a day when Townsend attended a funeral and so it was dubbed the "Coffin Fly". The name has never changed although the pattern is different today. According to Dette the insect was much more prolific back in the twenties and thirties and you had to keep your mouth shut during a hatch or you would inhale them during the spinner fall. The hatch usually lasted for about a week. The coffin fly (size 12) has even taken a sixteen-pound salmon caught by Winnie Dette.

In my humble opinion if you can obtain a copy of Eric Leiser's book The Dettes, A Catskill Legend it would be interesting reading and also has more Dette patterns to try for tying and fishing.

Ephemera guttulata spinner

This fly is an imitation of a large May fly Ephemera guttulata spinner, which many anglers mark the climax of the Eastern season. The flies are known by several local names: shad flies, May flies, Green Mays and other names.


Hook:   Dry fly, long shank, size 12 or 14.

Thread:   Black.

Tail:  Black and white peccary hairs.

Underbody:  White poly yarn.

Body:   White saddle hackle with the barbs trimmed to a short stubble, wrapped over the underbody. The wraps should not touch each other.

Rib:   White 3/0 thread, counterwrapped over the trimmed hackle body.

Wing:  Divided teal flank, well marked.

Hackle:  Golden Badger.

Tying Steps:

1. Using the thread, dress the hook with a base coat of thread then attach the teal flank segments and divide them using the figure 8 method for wing division.

2. Select 2 or 3 golden badger hackles and secure them in behind the upright teal wing segments. Do not wind the hackles at this time.

3. Wind the thread back to a point on the hook just above the barb and secure the tail fibers of black and white peccary hairs divided into place. (Using 3 fibers) Allow one to go straight back, divide the others one to the left and one to the right.

4. Tie in the white poly yarn, a white saddle hackle, and white 3/0 thread at this point. Wind the tying thread forward to just behind the hackle and the wings.

5. Wind the white poly yarn forward making a smooth body, and using the tying thread secure it.

6. Wind the saddle hackle forward to the same point and secure it with the tying thread. Making sure as you do this to wrap the hackle so that the wraps do not touch each other but are not palmered forward. Clip off the end of the hackle left over then trim the hackle barbs to short stubble.

7. Wrap the 3/0 white thread which is the rib forward making sure to counterwrap it over the trimmed hackle. Secure it with the tying thread at the same point that the poly and the white hackle are secured.

8. Next wrap the tying thread in front of the wings and to a point where the head of the fly will start.

9. Wrap the golden badger hackle 2-3 times behind the wings and then the same in front of the wings, don't forget to weave the hackle as you wrap it so that it doesn't pin down other hackle barbs previously wrapped. Tie each hackle off and trim, and then tie a nice tapered head.


According to Ernest Schwieber, Jrs' book. Matching the Hatch, "About three days after the duns have hatched, the earliest spinners appear at twilight. First they are high in the air over the stream, dropping lower and lower until the air over the water is filled with them. The transformation is so complete [from the dun] that many anglers do not believe they are the same insect that hatched before."

"Trout can waste no time when they feed upon these spinners, for they ride the water briefly to oviposite. Rises are usually showy and determined, particularly in fast water. Excellent results can be obtained by casting directly to the rises shortly after a fish has shown miself. The trout seem to by-pass drifting spinners as long as the live egg-filled variety are still in the air."

Schwiebert's favorite sizes for this fly are 8 and 10! ~ Tom Six

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

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