I started tying the first versions of my current skater in the fall of 2012 and I've been honored and humbled that there are folks out there that have liked my pattern enough to have asked for step by step tying instructions for it. It took a while, but I finally got a step by step posted on my blog this past fall. I'm such a steelhead fanatic that every spare moment of my time is spent taking advantage of those windows of opportunity to fish so it was only under the forced down time of late fall that I got around to putting an SBS together.
My skater was born out of the necessities of pure function, so efforts to create a pattern that stays on top and has good visibility were the key goals in it's conceptualization. Over time, the pattern continues to evolve and I continue to tinker with colors, visibility posts, flash, etc. This pattern is one that lends itself to many color combos, but I'll just use the "Summer's Hope" version, tied in size 4, in this SBS.
This particular version of my skater got it's name after realizing that it's color scheme utilized all the colors (plus a couple more) of Bill McMillan's famous Winter's Hope. I checked in with Bill to see if he'd be offended if I named my fly the Summer's Hope and Bill was gracious enough to reply that he felt my fly would be a fine compliment to his famous Winter's Hope - Bill is a kind man indeed!
hook: Mustad R73 (9671 equivalent), 2xl streamer hook. The Tiemco 5262 or other similar hook can be substituted. I most frequently use size 6's and 4's although I have tied versions of this pattern ranging from size 2 to size 10. If one prefers, up eye light wire steelhead hooks such as the the Tiemco 7989 can be used as well. I just prefer the down eye hooks for ease in rigging the fly due to the foam lip being compressed against the eye of the hook.
tail: Moose body
thread (rear half): white 3/0 or A
Flash: purple holographic flashabou, over tail and cross wrapped up front
butt: florescent green floss, use a single strand
tinsel: oval silver
body: purple globrite floss
Foam shellback/lip: pink 2mm foam, cut into a tapered piece approx 1" x 3/8" x 3/16"
Flash ball/thorax: Large Minnow Blue cactus chenielle (distributed by Hareline)
Thread (front half): 140 denier black gelspun, for strength in tying down the elk hair wing
Wing: Black Cow Elk, select a patch with as straight hairs as you can find. Too much curvature in the hair makes tying down evenly difficult.
Rear facing visibility post: yellow 2mm foam, cut into a rectangular piece about 3/8" x 3/4". Cut a V into one side.
Front facing visibility post: orange 2mm foam, cut to approximately 3/16" x 1/8" x 7/8"
This is not a difficult fly to tie, but it is labor intensive, so be patient in learning to tie it. Even when I'm on a roll, I can take 20-30 minutes to tie each one.
So here we go - hope you have fun with this one and even get to experience seeing it disappear in a surface steelhead attack sometime!
|Add four stands of purple holographic flashabou on each side of the tail, cut even with the tips of the tail.|
|For the butt, tie in a single strand of fluorescent green floss, wind to the tail and back onto itself. Be sure to cover the white thread. The white thread provides a bright underbody for the floss.|
|Tie in the tinsel rib|
|Tie in the purple globrite floss. Wind up and down the body a couple times being sure to cover the white thread.|
|Tie off the purple floss and start the black gelspun thread in front of the body.|
|Take five turns of tinsel and tie off.|
|Cut a tapered piece of pink foam to approximately 1" x 3/16" x 3/8". Tie in by the narrow tip as shown.|
|Tie in the Minnow Blue Cactus Chenielle by it's core right in front of the foam.|
|Take three wraps of chenielle and tie off.|
|Take 8 strands of purple holographic flashabou and cross wrap in front of the chenielle.|
|Pull straight up on the flashabou strands and cut even. Guesstimate the length to be a bit longer than the wings that will be tied in front of it.|
|Cut a bunch of Black Cow Elk about yey big. It takes some practice to gauge how much to cut as you want to have enough hair to cover the perimeter of the hook and allow for some being trimmed on the bottom while having full wings remaining.|
|Carefully transfer holding of the hair by the tips to the left hand, being sure to also gather the flash as well.|
|While still holding on to the tips of the elk with the left hand, grab your scissors and roughly trim the butts of the elk down.|
|At this point, snug down on the gelspun a bit more, push back on the trimmed butts, work the tread to the front of the butts and make a few wraps behind the eye of the hook.|
|Trim the hair flat on the bottom to allow the blue chenielle to show through.|
|Turning to the top of the fly, evenly part the elk hair with the closed tip of your scissors to allow the foam lip to be brought over in the next step.|
|I make an upward facing pinch in the pink foam in preparing to tie it down.|
|Make a couple soft wraps and slowly tighten down. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or the thread will cut through the foam.|
|Cut a piece of yellow 2mm foam 3/8" x 3/4" for the rear facing visibility post. Cut a V into half of this foam piece.|
|Upward pinch on the yellow foam before tie down.|
|Tie down with 2-3 wraps, tighten slowly, again careful not to apply too much pressure.|
|Cut a piece of orange 2mm foam for the front facing visibility post. I cut this one to approximately 1/8" x 3/16" x 7/8"|
|Tie the orange foam down with the wider side on the bottom, 2-3 wraps as seen above.|
|Work your thread under the fly and around just the eye of the hook, make a couple wraps.|
|Cut off the gelspun close to the eye. The foam lip will need to be trimmed down and the photo above depicts the proportions for the the foam lip that I like.|
|Side view of finished fly. BC here I come!! Oh darn, that's not until this fall....|
I hope folks have fun tying this skater and find lots of surface friendly steelhead this summer!!