Welcome to Intermediate Fly Tying

Part Fifty-one



Intermediate Fly Tying:

Part 51 - Tequila Sunrise (Salmon Fly)

Tequila Sunrise

By Al Campbell


Once again, I'm tying a type of fly that often uses hard to find materials, but I'm using common materials you can easily find. I'm rather fond of classic salmon flies because they are pretty and look graceful just sitting in the vise. If you want a lot of praise from your friends who don't tie flies, just tie up some salmon flies for them to look at and you'll earn their respect.

I placed this fly in the fly vise case at work and immediately started getting compliments from the viewers. The techniques used in tying the fly aren't really difficult, but the fly looks difficult enough to the average person to gain their attention. Heck, I won't tell them how easy it really was if you don't.

This pattern is called a Tequila Sunrise because of the blend of colors I use in it. Once upon a time when I was much younger and much more foolish, I had a passion for the drink that uses the same name. It was a pretty drink to look at, but it made me do ugly things, so I gave up on the drink, but not the fly.

Being as landlocked as I am here in the middle of the continent, I don't get many chances to fish for salmon. That hasn't prevented me from using classic salmon fly patterns though. I've discovered that pike, bass and large trout will also munch on salmon flies. Since they're fun to tie and pretty to look at, all the nice looking flies go on display and the ones that don't look so nice go fishing. I win twice that way.

If you live around gray squirrels and are handy with dye, you'll have all the raw materials you need to tie up a bunch of these flies. If not, the raw materials aren't very expensive, and are easily obtained from many fly shops or by mail order. If you wish to substitute dyed calf tail or synthetic hair, that's another option open to you. It's your fly to tie as you wish.

Once again, I'm substituting a common feather (from the head of a pheasant) for the more exotic jungle cock feathers used on many salmon flies. This gives the fly a similar visual effect, but keeps the cost of the materials low and the ease of finding them high. To the untrained eye, it looks like exotic feathers used in the cheeks of the fly. Who's going to tell on you? Certainly not me.

Since I've likely earned the title of heretic by now, I guess I'll continue that thought with this fly. Join me in the heresy of tying a simple but productive classic style salmon fly.

List of materials: Tequila Sunrise

  • Hook: Classic salmon fly hook. Mustad 80500BL or equivalent. Sizes 2 to 6.

  • Thread: Black, 3/0.

  • Body: Fluorescent chartreuse and fluorescent orange flat waxed nylon and peacock herl. (You can use other bright colors if you want.)

  • Rib: Green holographic flash. (Other colors of wire or tinsel can be used.)

  • Tail: Red dyed squirrel tail.

  • Hackle: Soft, cheap, long dyed yellow grizzly or chinchilla neck hackle.

  • Wing : Yellow, red, then yellow dyed squirrel tail hair.

  • Cheeks: Blue tipped, white feathers from the ring on the neck of a ringneck pheasant. (You can use other feathers that create the same effect.)

  • Tying steps:

  • 1. Start the chartreuse flat waxed nylon and use it as thread to tie down the tinsel. Try to keep the thread wraps smooth.

  • 2. Wrap the tinsel forward to cover the bend and part of the body area. Again, try to keep the wraps smooth.

  • 3. Use the chartreuse nylon to create a forward tag as shown. Keep the thread wraps as smooth as possible, this is part of the body.

  • 4. Whip finish the chartreuse nylon, trim and start the fluorescent orange nylon.

  • 5. Tie in a tail of dyed red squirrel tail hair as shown. Use the bulge of the chartreuse nylon to give the tail an upward lift.

  • 6. Wrap a short tag of peacock herl as shown. This is the same procedure used in the Royal Wulff body you learned in dry flies.

  • 7. Tie in the green holographic flash to use as a rib. Keep the wraps as smooth as possible since this is part of the body of the fly.

  • 8. Build a smooth body of orange nylon, then tie it off, whip finish and trim as shown.

  • 9. Start the black thread. Wrap the green holographic flash forward as a rib. Tie it off and trim.

  • 10. Wrap another tag of peacock herl. You may omit this step if you wish, but don't tell anyone.

  • 11. Tie in a small bunch of yellow dyed squirrel tail hair as a wing. Measure the hair to reach the end of the tail, as shown.

  • 12. Add a small bunch of red squirrel tail to the wing, as shown.

  • 13. Add another bunch of yellow squirrel tail to the wing.

  • 14. Tie in a soft, dyed yellow grizzly or chinchilla neck hackle, curvature back and down as shown. Other feathers like schlappen or spey hackle may be used.

  • 15. Wrap the hackle the same way you did in the PMS fly. When you've finished wrapping the hackle and tying it off, bind it back with thread wraps to give it a swept look as shown.

  • 16. Select two matching blue-tipped feathers from the edge of the white ring on the neck of a ringneck pheasant. Strip the feather stems of fuzz and tie each one in on the sides of the fly with two loose wraps of thread.

  • 17. Pinch on both sides of the head as you slip the feathers forward to the desired location on the fly. This will prevent the feathers from bunching up too badly. Once the feathers are in place, tie them off with more wraps of thread and trim their stems.

  • 18. Build a smooth head, whip finish and cement thoroughly. Your finished fly should look similar to this.

    Experiment with different colors and materials if you wish. Try to be as creative as you can. Try some new colors or create a new fly of your own. It's your choice. I wonder what a Harvey Wall-banger salmon fly would look like?

    Until next week my friends, practice and have fun. See ya next week - Remember, I'm always happy to answer your questions, feel free to email me. ~ Al Campbell

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