Fly tying is the mechanical application of materials to the hook. It can be done by any skilled craftsman, whether that person fishes or not. Fly designing is the process of combining the mechanical skills of fly tying with a knowledge of materials, the physical characteristics and life habits of the fish’s food organisms, the way fish feed, and the angling tactics that will be used to fish the imitation in order to develop easier to tie, tougher, more effective imitations.
Doug Ouellette’s “Stonedaddy” is definitely a great example of the fly designing process. Doug discovered that the trout of the lower Truckee love to chow down on both the big stonefly nymphs in the river and the small crayfish that crawl all over the stream bottom. His “Stonedaddy” fly is a highly creative blending of the features of both organisms. Trout can eat a big stonefly nymph and/or baby crayfish in one bite. And please note, this is not just a fly that “looks good.” It’s a fly that “works good.” Doug, and his friends and clients, have plied the Stonedaddy in the Truckee with powerful effects. Not just catching fish, but catching big fish—no, I take that back, catching huge fish. For more info, se the link to the Truckee River Outfitters to the right.
I asked Doug if he would share his design with us, and he graciously agreed. Here’s the pattern recipe and Doug’s notes on tying the fly. If you fish waters with both stoneflies and crayfsh, give this design a good trial. Modify it as you need.
Hook: Size 6, 1XL, 2X strong, sproat bend
Thread: 3/0, brown
Bead: Gold Tungsten, 3.8mm
Lead Wire: 0.025, 0.030, 0.035 inch, depending on water conditions
Tail: Goose biots, gold
Rib: Small red wire
Abdomen: Orange vinyl rib, medium
Shellback: Golden thin skin mottled oak
Thorax: Equal parts of amber SLF prism dubbing and ginger rabbit dubbing
1. Put the bead on the hook with the wide side facing forward.
2. Tie one piece of lead on top of hook, 7/8 the length of the shank.
3. Tie on biot tail, use a ball of thread between the tails to spread them.
4. Tie in wire for rib.
5. Attach material for shellback.
6. Tie in body material and wrap forward over rear ¾ of hook shank.
7. Pull shellback over top hook, secure at front of abdomen, do not trim waste end.
8. Wind rib forward, and tie off at front of abdomen.
9. Fold waste end of shellback to the rear and dub on the thorax.
10. Pull shellback forward over top of thorax and tie down at the head. Fold shellback rearward over top of thorax and secure in this position.
11. Tie in a biot on either side of the head, facing forward and cupped inward; leave butt ends of biots untrimmed; these represent the pincers of the baby crayfish.
12. Trim shellback material ½ length of body, and finish head.