Happy New Year everyone! For those fortunate enough to do some steelhead fly fishing at this time of year, I am quite envious! Even though I hit a lot of golf balls in Arizona, I do miss chasing that most wonderful fish in our wild BC rivers. However, from my previous days when I did get out steelheading, I do have a fly that might be of interest to you. I call it Don's Soft Rabbit and it is a pattern designed for colder weather fishing. My September experience on rivers like the Morice and Bulkley was that those magnificent fish sometimes charged a fly with great enthusiasm but in colder weather such as fishing the Vedder in January, I had to practically bump them on the nose with my fly! And all the better if the fly had a lot of natural soft movement as we will see in this month's pattern. The rabbit strip has lots of movement in the current and the artificial egg is the soft variety, a good combination for cold weather steelies! Just get the fly deep enough where the winter fish are lying and you will have success!
I like to tie about a 3 or 4 foot leader onto the shank of my hook with a barrel knot as I feel it holds better than leader tied directly to the hook eye. And in winter fishing, I use short leaders anyway which helps to get the fly deeper in the water. If you do want to follow my example, take a needle and poke a hole through the center of the soft artificial egg. Then push one end of the leader through the hole and pull it about 7 inches or so past the egg. Next push the hook point through the egg hole from the long end of the leader and slide the egg tight to the hook eye. You now should have enough short end leader to tie a barrel knot just behind the egg on the hook shank. You can use a tool for making neat barrel knots but I use about a one inch piece of plastic tubing from an old spray can to push the leader end through after making 9 or 10 turns over the tube wrapping back to the egg position. Slip the tube out, grab both ends of the leader, pull tight, and you now have a barrel knot on the shank that should hold a very large steelhead! The final step is very simple after you attach your tying thread to the head end of the barrel knot. Cut a piece of rabbit strip about twice the length of the hook shank and tie it over the barrel knot up against the back end of the egg. To make sure that the strip does not come loose while fishing, I loop my tying thread matuka style at least two times back along the rabbit strip. I pull the fur apart about 1/8 inch back along the strip and wind my thread tightly through, half hitch, then again once more a further 1/8 inch back. After a couple of half hitches here, I wind the tying thread forward and tie off just behind the egg. The finishing wraps at this point can be covered with red dimensional fabric paint or left as is. I find the combination of the waving rabbit fur and soft artificial egg is a winning winter steelhead fly and I hope you do as well!
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