Next to the Doc Spratley, the series of Carey flies with different body colors must surely be the favorite of many fly fishermen, including myself. It is an easy fly to tie and with a variety of body colors, it can save the day when those large feeding trout get very selective. I can recall a wonderful day, other than the scary drive down the steep access trail from the microwave site, on Firth Lake when a black carey was exactly what those light colored rainbows wanted! Another time on Salmon Lake, just as the algae bloom was starting, a yellow carey was the perfect answer for several spirited two pound plus rainbows. And equally as good, a red carey produced many good fish a few years ago on Apacho Lake while a green carey did wonders for me on little Alberts Lake near Prince George. What I am saying is that a well equipped fly fisherman should have several carey flies in different sizes and body colors! The best combination for me seems to lie in thin body shaping but with soft pheasant rump feathers for the overlay that will pulsate well during the retrieve. Try it and you will see!
I tie careys with and without tails but let's start by tying in a short tail of brown or green pheasant rump feather. The body is next and many, many materials can be effectively used. Plain old wool is a favorite in black, brown, red, yellow, purple and green, just to name a few colors that have produced for me! I usually separate the strands in about a 4 inch piece of wool in order to make a body that is slim in appearance. With a thin wool strand, you can tie one end at the fly head, lay it back along the fly shank , cinch it down at the hook bend, and then wrap it tightly back to the hook eye where it is tied off. At this point, attach a soft pheasant rump feather and turn it 360 degrees once or twice, favoring less of an overlay rather than more. Force the pheasant feather back along the hook shank by wrapping back slightly with your tying thread as you whip finish the head. Invisible mending thread, which is much thinner than regular fly tying thread, does a good job of this. Cement and you are finished.
Carey flies are a good choice for trolling to explore new lakes. However, I find the flies most effective casting and retrieving in short pulls which causes the pheasant feather to pulsate in the retrieve. Often trout will follow the fly right to your boat if you are using a sink tip or wet line so be prepared for a strike at any time!
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