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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Skater Of The Month - Chatreuse/Purple/Orange butt Little Wang

Chartruese/Purple/Orange butt Little Wang ready for action on the North Umpqua
Early stinger version.  This one had just hooked into a BC steelhead.
Chartreuse/Purple/Orange butt stinger in the mouth of an eastide buck in November

Over the past few years, I have come up with an array of different color combinations with my Foam Skater that has come to be known as the "Little Wang" due to it's prominent "indicator post".  The name came to my fly after my good friend Steve Turner had showed one of these unusual flies to famous PNW steelhead guide Jeff Hickman and apparently the first thing Jeff said was "that thing looks like it has a little wang" and the name stuck.  This is what happens when a guy designs a fly and doesn't give it a proper name soon enough, some one else names it for you!  I initally was calling my fly the "Purely Functional Skater" since it was truly conceptualized out of the needs of pure function -  I wanted a fly that would stay on top and that was highly visible, and I think I have come pretty close to fulfilling those needs in a skating fly.  As a result, I fish these flies with the utmost confidence and confidence is the number one ingredient in surface steelheading.

I know it is weird to be putting up a post with a skating fly in January, in the middle of winter steelhead season, but for those who have read my stuff, you probably already know that my thinking style can be pretty random at times.  Anyway, maybe I'm not too far out there yet, since going after my second winter steelhead on a skater is still a goal.  Yeah I know, I'm not your typical Skagit casting steelheader, but hey, it takes all kinds, right?

I just got this strange idea to post up a different color combo of my skater at the beginning of each month until I run out of different color combos and also to catalog the color combos I have used and liked.  Please comment on any particular combo you like of if you have any color combos to suggest. 

The particular color combo I have posted this month is my latest and this fly came together this past August.  I kept looking at the Chartreuse cactus chenille at my local fly shop and kept thinking of how I could incorporate it in my fly.  I went ahead and bought some of the stuff and then went to work with color combos at the vise.  Using purple globrite floss for the body with a hot orange globrite floss butt made the colors pop and I immediately loved my fly in this color scheme.

Of course, I immediately began fishing this fly on my local waters and not surprisingly I began raising and hooking steelhead on this fly not long afterwards, onward into November.  It was a relatively slow season for skating with apparent low returns so I can't say that this fly was any more or less effective than other color combos I have tried, but again it's all about confidence and having some variety is nice too.

I also started tying some of my skaters "stinger style" this past summer.  My stinger design involves tying the rear half of the fly on an octopus hook and the front half on a short portion of a streamer hook with spider wire joining the sections together.  The second and third photos above contain the stinger version of my fly.  I promise to get a step by step done on this process in the near future.  It's not a difficult process but adds more steps to an already time consuming and laborious tie.

I have had mixed feelings about bringing out the stinger versions of my fly because I don't want to obsolete the versions of my fly tied on standard 2xl hooks.  In truth, it is too early to tell if the stinger versions of my fly have brought any real benefit in my hookup to landing ratios - I have gone 8 for 11 so far, too small of a sample to draw any real conclusions from.  More to the point, is landing every single steelhead hooked what we should be seeking anyway??  I like getting a fish pic every now and then, but I have averaged about a 60-75% hooking to landing ratio with standard hooks on my skaters as it was before going to the stinger versions so what more could I ask for??

Materials list for the Chartreuse/Purple/Orange butt Little Wang:

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.

tail:  Moose body

thread (rear half):  white 3/0

Flash:  purple holographic flashabou, over tail and cross wrapped up front

butt:  florescent orange globrite floss

tinsel:  Lagurtan fine oval silver

body:  purple globrite floss 

Foam shellback/lip:  black 2mm foam, cut into a tapered piece approx 1" x 3/8" x 3/16" 

Flash ball:  Large chartreuse cactus chenielle (distributed by Hareline)

Thread (front half):  150 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 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"

For actual tying steps, please refer to my step by steps.

Wishing you all good health and peace and prosperity in 2016!


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