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Olive Gulper Special
By Dave Hughes

Quite often trout in stillwaters get into heavy daily hatches of speckle-wing duns (Callibaetis), and set up greedy patterns of feeding. Fish remain near the top, cruise along, rise to take when they encounter a dun in their path, subside slightly and cruise some more until they find the next. At times such trout prowl like sharks, but they are almost always patient on the take itself. Their feeding can be audible; that's why they're called gulpers. Flies tied to fool them when they're feeding this way are called Gulper Specials.

These Gulper Specials have parachute hackles for flotation, and white wings for visibility. At first glance they're not the most imitative flies in the world. But at second glance that body lowered flush into the film is the key characteristic, the trigger. On a stillwater, when trout are cruising near the surface and feeding on speckle wing duns, that's likely about all that needs to get noticed.


Montana's Hebgen Lake is famous for its speckle-wing hatches, and brown trout that accept Gulper Specials. That's Dave in the photo.

Materials for the Olive Gulper Special

    Hook: Standard dry fly, 1x fine, size 14 to 18.

    Thread: Olive 6/0 or 8/0.

    Wing post: White Polypro yarn.

    Tail: Grizzly hackle fibers, splayed.

    Body: Olive fur or synthetic.

    Hackle: Grizzly, parachute.

Instructions for the Olive Gulper Special:

1. Fix hook in vise and layer front half with thread. Cut a segment of Polypro yarn, measure it the length of the shank, and tie it in about one-third of the shank length behind the eye. Cut the butts on a slant. Take several turns of thread in front of the wing to prop it up, and several more up the base to stiffen it. Place a drop of head cement on the base.

2. Make a slight thread bump at the bend of the hook. Measure a substantial bunch of stiff grizzly hackle fibers the length of the hook, and tie them in at the bend. Use thread turns against the bump to splay them slightly. Twist dubbing to the thread and wind a tapered body forward to the wing base.

3. Select a hackle with fibers two to 2 1/2 hook-gaps long. Remove fuzz from the lower end of the stem, and tie it in by the stem with the shiny side up. Standard procedure is to tie a parachute hackle in on the far side of the wing, and to wind it counterclockwise. Taper dubbing the rest of the way down to the hook eye.

4. Wind four or five turns of hackle counter-clockwise around the wing post. Tie it off by placing the hackle tip over the hook shank just behind the eye. Follow the tip with two or three turns of thread. The thread lies in the same direction as the hackle, and draws it right rather than loosening it. Clip the excess tip, take several turns of thread to form a neat thread head, and whip-finish the fly. Place a drop of head cement on the base of the wingpost to secure the hackle. ~ Dave Hughes

Credits: From Dave Hughes book, Matching Mayflies, published by Frank Amato Publications.


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


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