PUBLISHED: 3:24 PM on Thursday, November 30, 2006
From the "I don't name it - I just tie it" files, comes the strange case of the Strange Christmas Tree, a pattern I stumbled across while seeking a holiday-themed fly for you nice folks. I had hoped to find something warm and fuzzy, such as a Santa Streamer, or maybe a Hanukah Hairwing, or even a Partridge Fly lost in a pear tree, etc. But no - we're forced to settle for this. Truth be told, I was aware of a "normal" Christmas Tree fly, which is almost all tinsel and as such reminds me way too much of a Flash Fly. Not that Flash Flies are bad, but we've already traveled that road together (see Outdoors July 2005). As for the "strange" version, creator Martin Joergensen eliminated the tinsel wing and replaced it with a Zonker-style wing to create this month's pattern. Let's tie one on!
I'm using a Mustad 9674 #4 streamer hook, which is about right for the Zonker strips I have available. Using red thread, lash three or four strips of lead wire underneath the shank, making each strip shorter than the one before. We're not only weighting the fly, but we're giving the underbody a fishy shape.
The original pattern uses red wool for the underbody, but I prefer bright red chenille. To add girth, I start my chenille behind the head and lay it on top of the shank to the hook bend. Then I secure it at the bend, and wind the chenille back to the eye, allowing plenty of room for the head. Secure the chenille with a couple of half hitches and cast off the thread. That's fly-speak for cut the thread.
Take a three-inch length of medium pearl mylar and remove the cotton core. Slip the mylar over the fly from the head to the tail. Allow maybe a half-inch of mylar past the hook, and then fray both ends. Back at the bend, restart your thread and lash down the mylar at that point. Secure it with half hitches and cast off the thread. Start it again behind the eye, forcing the front-frayed mylar to lie back like a hackle collar. Cast off the thread.
Now, lay a three-inch ginger Zonker strip on top of the shank, allowing the tail to extend past the tinsel. Use a bodkin to carefully divide the hair fibers like you would a Matuka wing, but only at the tail section. Restart your thread and lash the tail down and above where you tied down the mylar. Secure it with a couple of half hitches and - oh yeah - cast off the thread. Monotonous, isn't it?
Stretch the other end of the Zonker strip nice and tight and divide the hair fibers just behind the hook eye and over where you secured the mylar. Restart your thread and lash down the front of the wing. Carefully trim away what's left of the Zonker hide and build up your head. Cast off the thread (last time, I promise) and give it a few coats of high-gloss head cement.
You know, now that I think of it, you might want to have a couple of bobbins working when tying Zonker patterns. In fact, a third hand would be handy. By the way - this fly originated in Denmark for the region's sea-run brown trout. Will it work in the Last Frontier? I will let you know. Happy tying! Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org