Some years ago when I lived in North Vancouver, I broke a knee cap while coaching minor hockey. It seems strange, but this event was instrumental in changing my fishing career! With a cast on my leg for six weeks and regular activities out of the question, I decided to take a night school course in fly tying. It turned out that my instuctor was Earl Anderson, an accomplished Vancouver fly tier and fisherman. Earl is known for developing several successful fly patterns including the Anderson stonefly featured in my June 1998 article (Number 20). Earl had a way of imparting great enthusiasm for the sport and I feel very lucky indeed to have been taught by such a great master!
The "What Else" fly came about from Earl's experimentation with the "Professor" to develop an even better coho salmon fly. The professor features a red goose primary tail and a body of gold ribbed yellow floss with an up-lifted barred mallard wing and brown throat hackle. Earl replaced the long tail with a short bright red wool tail and the floss with wool to create a more bulky body. The mallard wing was lowered nymph style and shortened to not much longer than the hook bend. A final refinement was to replace the body wool with dyed soft yellow polar bear underfur. This gave the fly a translucent effect under water, thus increasing its attractiveness to those river coho. Today, such material is hard to obtain but there are many synthetic products which can serve the same purpose so I have used a second rib of crystal flash to add sparkle to the fly. Let's have a look at Earl's "What Else" coho (and cutthroat trout) fly for this month's fly tying article.
Start by attaching a piece of red wool to the hook shank not much longer than the hook bend. Then secure pieces of yellow wool, gold wire and crystal flash also to the hook shank with the final half hitch at the hook bend. The wool should be thin enough to shape the body as you wind it forward. I find that by pulling the wool strands apart and just using one or two strands, I can easily control the body shaping. Next wind the gold wire forward with five to seven turns to form the rib followed by the crystal flash. The hackle is next, either by adding a single beard as a throat hackle or by two or three turns of brown saddle at the eye and then clip off the top fibres. The final step is to add a barred mallard wing, low to the body, cement, tie off and you have finished a great coho salmon river fly, Earl Anderson's "What Else"!
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