PUBLISHED: 2:43 PM on Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The Skagit Coachman
I like attractor patterns, because- well-they're just so darn attractive. But seriously, can't you recall times when you were on the water without the faintest clue of what to do? It happens to me a lot. I pop open my fly box and see an amazing menagerie of aquatic fakery-you know-bugs. Mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, oh my.

I look to the water for help, but there's none to be had because the bugs have bugged out. That's where the attractor pattern comes into its own; for those times when it's not apparent what the fish are feeding on. When I find myself puzzled and perplexed-which is most of the time-I grab an attractor fly and go prospecting. This is especially true when fishing a river for the first time, and that expensive guide is nowhere to be found.

Patterns like this Skagit Coachman are general enough to suggest many food items to the trout. It's also colorful enough to tempt fish even between meals. That's what makes it an excellent attractor fly for both its home state of Washington and our waters here in Alaska. Ready? Well then, grab your bobbin and let's wrap.

Start some orange chenille in front of the tail. Also, tie down a section of peacock herl at mid shank or so. Take a few turns of chenille at the tail and tie down and trim. Wrap a few turns of peacock herl for the middle band and again tie down and trim. Finally, wrap another section of chenille toward the eye.

Take a clump of black-bear hair (or a synthetic facsimile thereof) and tie it down behind the eye like a streamer wing. Use a hair stacker and you'll be able to get a nice uniform length. Speaking of length: After it's tied into place, the wing's tapered tips should end just short of the tail.

Use an appropriately sized black hackle feather for the collar. Tie the butt end behind the eye and use your hackle pliers to make three or four turns. Use your thread to bind the fibers so that the collar flows rearward. Do the whip finish thing-add a drop of cement-and you're done.

This particular style of fly can be fished top, bottom or anywhere in between, which is important when you're prospecting. After all, during those non-hatch periods fish could be most anywhere. And that's when you really need radar. Hey, that's the ticket! Attractor patterns are like radar! We'll work on sonar some other time. Until then, happy tying!

Comments? E-mail: