PUBLISHED: 2:48 PM on Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tying the Don King
Fly-tying - By William Boatman
I'm a real sports fan. If you were to count the hours I've wasted in front of the tube watching sporting events - well, that in itself would be a waste of time. Let's just say it's a lot, and leave it at that. I'm mainly a football guy, but it's hard to beat a good heavyweight fight. So, when this fly-fishing sports nut came across a fly pattern called the Don King, I got kind of excited, just like I do on the eve of a big fight.

To refresh, Don King was a fight promoter who made his bones during the Muhammad Ali/Larry Holmes era of heavyweight boxing. King - a master of the loaded phrase and the bizarre TV sound bite - gained true "infamy" through the countless court battles he waged against many of his former fighters who sued king for monies owed after big fights. In spite of all that, King may have actually been better known for his curious hairstyle, sort of a cross between a monarch's crown and Buckwheat's hairdo from those Our Gang comedy shorts of yesteryear. "Otay?" As you can see from the illustrations, the name does seem apt. Let's get started.

1. If you want a weighted pattern, wrap some lead wire around your favorite streamer hook. Here I'm using a #4 Mustad 9674. Using a black 3/0 monochord, secure the lead wire and then lash down a length of either copper wire or an oval gold tinsel. It should be long enough to make several wraps around a dubbed body and terminate behind the eye. I'm going with tinsel.

2. Greg Carrier's original pattern called for a body of brown goat fur and a wing of black marabou. Since my goat's outside mowing the yard, I'm taking a few liberties with the color combo. I prefer a black body with a purple wing. If your goat's busy, any black fur or synthetic dubbing will do just fine. Use it to create a rather large but neatly tapered body.

3. Carefully select two similar-sized marabou feathers that will reasonably fit the proportions of your hook. Prepare them "matuka" style, stripping the bottom fibers from each stem. Lay both feathers - concave sides together - on top of the hook shank. Judge the length from the tail, and trim away the excess from the thicker stem just behind the eye. Tie down the stems and leave your bobbin behind the eye.

4. Again, we're going to lash the marabou down like a matuka pattern, using the copper wire or the tinsel that you tied in during the first step. Carefully divide the marabou fibers along the shank and wrap the wire or tinsel at each division, maintaining even wraps as you go. I find it helps if you moisten your fingers and stroke the hackle so that it's perpendicular to the shank.

5. Dividing marabou is trickier than it is with hackle feathers, but with patience you'll soon get the hang of it - either that or you'll quit and a find a less frustrating hobby. When you're just behind the eye, tie down the wire or tinsel, trim it away and build up a neat head. Don liked his patent leather shoes; so give your fly a shiny head with some glossy head cement.

For me, late season is always a leech fest, and the best patterns always employ the undulating magic of marabou. So congrats! You've built yourself a real fish-getter. Or, as Don King might say, "You've manifestoed a stupenderous creationism. Only in America!"

Happy tying!