Flies for the Sky

With an impending trip to Seattle, I worked out the details with my better half and have been allotted one day to fish Washington’s Skykomish River. I as usual procrastinated on the effort of filling a fly box specific to this trip. The Sky’ still boasts decent runs of honest to goodness, actual, salt-run steelhead. Not the hatchery stocked Great Lakes run rainbows that I am accustom to. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lake run ‘bows and browns and appreciate the opportunity to chase big fish all winter but the shot at a real west coast steelhead has been heavy on my mind for awhile now. I felt like I should tie some flies that were worthy of these increasingly rare fish.

Clockwise from top left: Ferry Canyon, Whaka Blonde, Spade (Alec Jackson), and Green Butt Skunk.

I wanted to tie an array of sizes as I’ve never actually seen the Skykomish, I don’t know what to expect. In the event that flows are low and runs turn grabby, having some smaller flies seems like a good idea. These are tied on 6s, 8s, and the gold AJ hook is a 7 if I recall.

Marabou flies.

I like the look of classic hair winged flies but wanted to use some different materials as well. Trey Combs, in his classic “Steelhead Fly Fishing” says of marabou, “The material possesses movement in the water that is matched by nothing else.”  I just mixed and matched colors and collars on these.

Clockwise from top left: Brad's Brat, Del Cooper, Skykomish Sunrise, and Purple Peril.

I really do love to tie classic hair wings. To be honest, I still struggle with feather winged flies. I’m OK with strip wings but inconsistent. I’ve started to get the hang of tenting hackle tip wings Syd Glasso style. Forget about traditional low-set bronze mallard wings on classic speys. They just make me swear.

Don't forget about the rabbit.

If marabou is #1 as far as movement underwater, rabbit has to be #1A. These are tied with zonker strips. Hopefully one of these will find its way to the vicinity of a willing Skykomish steelhead.

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