Our Man From Canada


Neil M Travis - Aug 25, 2014

If you are a minimalist fly tyer then you will love this fly. It was originated by an old friend of mine and a legendary angler, guide and fly tyer, Frank Johnson. Frank won the Buz Buszek Memorial Fly Tying award in 1984 when he was a resident of Missoula, Montana. He was the co-owner of Streamside Anglers in Missoula at that time, and I remember visiting his shop in 1983 when I was working for the Burlington Northern Railroad and was briefly stationed in Missoula. Little did I know at the time that our paths would cross many more times over the years and we became friends on a first-name basis.

According to Hale Harris, co-owner of the Bighorn Trout Shop where Frank guided for many years, Frank invented this fly after a couple of cocktails on December evening.[www.bighornrivermontana.com – April 2011] I'm not certain of the veracity of this story, but however this fly came into being it really works on very selective trout. It is a great Baetis and midge pattern.



The fly consists of three things: a dry fly hook, tying thread and a single CDC feather.

I like to use a Tiemco 100 dry fly hook for this fly but you can use any standard dry fly hook of your choice. The tying thread should be the color of the body of the fly that you are imitating and sized appropriately to the hook size. For most patterns I use a natural dun CDC feather but you could experiment with other colors.

I secure the hook in the vice and attach my tying thread about one eye length behind the eye. Then I remove two or three fibers from the butt section of my CDC feather and tie these in as the tail, wrapping my tying thread over the fibers until I get to a point just above the point of the hook. The length of the tails should be about as long as or slightly longer than the hook shank.

With the tails affixed I wrap my tying thread back to the tie in point making a thin, smooth body. Then I take my CDC feather and tie it in with the tips facing out over the eye. This will be the wing of the fly and should be approximately as long as the body. I cut off the excess and wrap my tying thread over the butts to make a smooth transition. Hold the wing upright and place several wraps of thread in front of the wing to cause it to stand upright. Then whip finish the head and the fly is completed.

I tie this fly in sizes 18 thru 24. What makes this a truly great pattern, in my estimation, is the simplicity and the fact that it can be fished as a dry fly on the surface, an emerger in the film and a drown adult just under the surface. Give it a try when you encounter some picky trout and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Step 1 – Place the hook in the vice

Step 2 – Attach the tread about one eye length back on the shank and trim the excess

Step 3 – Take 4 or 5 wisps from a CDC feather and tie them in for a shuck or tail. Wrap the tying thread back to the wing position.

Step 4 – Trim the excess tail material and wrap forward with the tying tread to create a smooth, thin body. Take a CDC feather and tie it down with the tips over the hook eye.

Step 5 – Trim the butt of the CDC at an angle and wrap the tying thread over the butts to make a slight thorax.

Step 6 – Lift the wing and make several wraps in front the wing to force it upright. Make a five turn whip finish and cut the tying thread. Trim the tail fibers and the wing to approximately the length of the body. Use head cement if desired. The fly is finished and ready to be used.

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