Don's Fly Tying - the Johnson Spratley

[Johnson Spratley]

My favourite still water retreat in the Kamloops area is Johnson Lake, south and east of Barriere, BC. This lake reminds me of a gigantic swimming pool, the azure blue water patterned on the bottom with large patches of white marl alternating with heavy green weeds. Moreover, the water is so clear that on a calm day from an anchored boat, you can see a trout approaching from 100 feet away at the east end of the lake! Under these conditions when the sun casts a shadow on your fly line, any quick movement will spook the fish! I found the best method was to lay out a cast with a slow sink or sink tip line and wait for a rainbow to approach. Just a twitch to provide some movement to the fly would often results in an exploding dash, sometimes from as much as 15 feet away, as the trout swept in to grab the fly! The ability to see the trout strike your fly in the crystal clear water is a thrill beyond compare! Sedge hatches in June and July at the far end of the lake from the Lodge would result in some great dry fly fishing providing there was a bit of a ripple on the water, otherwise the trout on a dead calm day would shy away from your artificial offering. At times when there was no surface activity, a wet fly would produce well when there was enough wind to mask your outline while casting from an anchored boat. This month we will examine a wet fly that I used in these conditions with excellent results. It is a fly I call the Johnson Lake Spratley!



Start by tying in a short and sparse tail of guinea hen. At the hook bend, tie in a piece of fine copper wire for later ribbing of the body. Now wrap a thin but full body of flat, bright copper tinsel followed by the rib of fine copper wire. I next turn the hook over in my vise and attach a throat hackle of red squirrel, fairly thin and reaching the hook barb. After placing the hook back upright in the vise, tie in a wing of brown pheasant tail, making sure that the wing flows back along the body. It may take several small pieces of pheasant feather to get the correct flow to the wing. The final step is to make a head of peacock herl. Tie off, cement and you have finished a great Johnson Lake attractor pattern for windy day conditions!

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