Don's Fly Tying - The Doc Spratley

[Doc Spratley]

The Doc Spratley fly is one of my all time favorites. It is generally thought to be the invention of an American dentist who frequently fished the lakes of British Columbia in the early part of this century. One of his favourite lakes was Hihium, several kilometers north of the west end of Kamloops Lake and his fly represented the large Hihium chironomids! In my view, there is no more effective fly to catch rainbow trout in a broad spectrum of conditions and locales. This fly can be tied in a variety of body colors; red and green are my next choices after black and fished in many ways from a chironomid dead drift to a rapid troll. It is the fly I often use when trying new water or when the fishing is slow.


The Doc Spratley can be tied in a variety of colors and materials. I prefer using invisible mending thread but standard black or colored thread can be used. Hook sizes also cover a wide range.


Tie in the tail, sparse and not more than 1/3 the body length. Attach the tinsel and body wool to the hook shank and half hitch at the bend. Wrap the body wool to the eye and tie off. Counter wrap the tinsel to the eye with an even spacing and tie off. Flip the hook upside down in your vice and tie in the throat hackle no longer than the hook barb, then reset the hook in the starting position. Lay a small amount of pheasant tail along the top of the fly, slightly shorter than the end of the tail and tie in near the eye. Take care not to let the wing spring up as you want it to lay flat and parallel along the body. Overlay another pheasant piece to achieve a low contour wing but not too bushy. Tie in a strand or two of peacock herl at the eye, whip finish and you have just made one hell of a fishing fly!

Editor's Note: I am pleased to report that I have been contacted by Sue Perrault, who is a granddaughter of the Doc Spratley fly inventor. Sue has confirmed that Doctor Donald Spratley was indeed a Dentist who lived in Mt. Vernon, Washington and invented the fly sometime in the early 1940s. It was patterned after the large chironomids found in Hihium Lake (pronounced Hihume). After his retirement, with his friend Leo Whitney, the good Doctor spent his summers fishing the BC Interior Lakes, another favourite being Janice Lake, located off Highway 24. Doc Spratley passed away in 1968 but his legacy continues to be enjoyed by fly fishers world wide!

2nd Editor's Note: In March 1999, I received an Email from Bill Shea (see article # 51, Bill's Brown Bomber) who grew up in Mt. Vernon, Washington, and went to Dr. Spratley for his dentistry work. Bill said that a Mrs. Dorothy Prankard tied the original fly for Dr. Spratley. This has since been confirmed by the Doctor's daughter, Betty Jo Wilkens! I am very pleased with these contacts and wish to thank Sue, Bill and Betty Jo for this helpful and interesting information!

Your comments are welcome at "dhaaheim at telus dot net"

Http:// -- Revised: November 27, 1999
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