PUBLISHED: 10:10 AM on Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Flytying: Coneheads





I like float tubing. It's like catching trout right from your favorite lounge chair. And not just any ol' lounge chair, either. Picture yourself lying back in an air-filled barco lounger that's being gently caressed by the soothing properties of water, softly rocking, slowly swaying, calmly drifting ... violently pitching ... wait, a storm just blew in! Okay, that woke me up. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, tubing. A float tube can put you right on top of the fish - which is great - unless the fish are hanging out beyond a fly fisherman's typical depth range. When I'm tubing over deep lakes and tidal pools, I need a fly that will probe the abyss. I need a Conehead.

Named for the bullet-shaped weight at the head of the fly, these heavy weight patterns - when combined with a wire wrap along the shank - will comb the depths as well as any spin-fisherman's jig. So, with apologies to Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtain - and any non baby boomers who don't get the reference - here's my favorite and most effective Conehead pattern.

I'm using a #4 streamer hook, with the barb removed and a silver conehead slipped onto the hook from the point to the eye. If it slips over the eye, it's too big. Take some lead wire and wrap two thirds of the hook shank, then secure it with hot-pink thread, which will match our hackle collar.

Tie in a few inches of flat silver tinsel at the tail and hang it out of the way. Now, select a long and fluffy purple marabou feather and tie the end down where you secured the tinsel. Tail length should extend about an inch from the bend. Feel free to add some flashabou or tinsel to the marabou tail for some added sparkle.

Just like we would for a standard lake-leech pattern, we're going to wrap the rest of the marabou feather up the shank, tying it down tightly against the back of the conehead. Now take your tinsel and make a few turns around the marabou body, again, tying it down and trimming it behind the conehead.

Carefully select a large hot-pink saddle hackle feather that will give you hackle fibers about as long as the hook shank. Strip off the fuzzy bit at the stem and tie it in behind the conehead. Make sure the stem disappears underneath the back of the conehead so there's no gap between it and the collar.

Now, take a pair of hackle pliers and turn the hackle a few times behind the conehead to form an oversized collar which, when swept back, will just touch the marabou tail. If it's a bit longer, that's no crime. Just make sure it's not too short. Use several half hitches to secure the thread behind the conehead.

Yeah, I know. You can always just add split shot to your leader when you need to go deep. That sounds good until you impale a fly into the back of your head. Trying to cast with shot on the leader is like bull whipping barbed wire. It's better to take up something safe like bungi jumping than to mess around with that. Happy tying! Comments?