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Written by: Kevin W.
Photographed By: Kevin W.
Guest Tier: Kevin W. Erickson
Originated by noted British Columbia fly fishing
author/conservationist/angler Roderick Haig-Brown, the Steelhead Bee was well
ahead of its time in many ways. The Bee’s design allows it to be fished not
only in the traditional upstream drag-free dead-drift dry fly approach, but
also cast downstream on a tight line and fished with a “waking” or “skating”
technique. Waking flies sit low in the surface and create a disturbance with
either wings and/or bodies designed to resist the currents flow. Flies in this category
include Harry Lemire’s Greased Liner, Bill Bakke’s Dragon Fly and Bill
McMillan’s Steelhead Caddis. Skating flies are tied with traditional stiff,
bushy dry-fly hackle intended to lift the fly up so it rides mainly on the
hackle and tail. Traditional dries scaled up in size for steelhead include the
Royal Wulff, Humpy, and Hairwing Black Gnat among others. There is a crossover
between flies designed as “wakers” being fished as a “skater” and vice-versa.
The only thing that matters is if the fish likes the presentation.
Hook: Light wire Salmon Dry Fly Hook – Sizes 4 to 10.
Tail: Fox Squirrel Tail.
Body: Equal sections of brown, yellow, and brown dubbing.
divided wings of Fox Squirrel Tail slanted forward at a 45˚ angle.
Hackle: Brown - stiff dry
fly quality or soft wet fly quality –discussed within the instruction.
thread of the shank and wrap back to a position above the point.
small amount (30 to 50 fibers or so) of Fox Squirrel tail and trim the clump
off the tail. Holding the very tip ends of the hair tightly in your left hand
(for right-handed tyers) and begin pulling out all underfur and short fibers
with your right hand. This evens the length of fibers (I usually prefer not to
stack the hair for a more natural look) and removes unwanted shorter fibers
thus reducing the bulk, making it easier to secure the fibers to the hook somewhere
around the middle.
clump of remaining fibers for the tail to your left hand with the tips pointing
to the left over the bend of the hook. Measure so the tips extend a shank
length beyond the back end of the shank and tie in tightly. Trim the butt ends
at a taper to the midpoint of the shank and finish wrapping over the butt ends
securely. Advance the thread to a position slightly forward of three-quarters
of the way up the shank.
process with slightly less than double the amount of hair used for the tail.
Again, it is important to clean out as much underfur and all possible shorter
fibers thoroughly to minimize the amount of hair to be tied in. This
time, transfer the hair to the right hand with the tips pointing to the right
over the eye of the hook. Measure the hair and tie in so the wings are equal to
the shank in length and are extending forward on top of the hook over the eye.
Trim the butt ends at a taper to the back of the shank. This should overlap the
taper of the butts from the tail and provide a smooth even underbody. Tie the
butts down tightly and securely.
up the hair for the wings and wrap the thread tightly underneath the hair and against
the base to start lifting the hair up from the hook. Now take the hair and
divide it into two equal wings. Start “criss-cross” wrapping between the wings,
by alternately taking a few wraps from behind the near wing to in
front of the far wing, then switch to wrapping from in
front of the near wing to behind the far wing. Help divide and
define the wings with every wrap.
Now you want
to “post” the wing bases. Take the thread and wrap tightly around only
the hair at the very base of each wing. For either waking or skating
flies, this is an important step if you have upright divided wings. You may
need to support the hair between each complete wrap to keep the wing from
folding over and allowing your thread wrap to slip off. Post one wing then make a few wraps around
the shank and then post the other. Work the thread up the base of each wing
about a sixteenth of an inch or so. Once completed, add a drop of head cement
to the base of each wing to help lock the thread wraps and stiffen the wings.
make several wraps tightly behind both wings to force them forward to about a 45˚
angle sloping over the eye. The final position should be as shown – a 45˚slant
toward over the eye and each wing at about a 45˚ angle off the vertical (90˚
between the wings) when viewed from the front. Again, add a drop or two of
cement to lock the thread wraps and wing bases in place and help stiffen them
up for their work ahead pushing back against the currents you fish them in.
is the body. Three equal sections of dubbing consisting of brown, then yellow,
then brown again. Decide on the style of the fly you’re going to create at this
point. If tied to be a Skater, deduct the amount of room the hackle will occupy
behind the wing and divide the remaining space back to the tail into thirds.
This way you’ll not be crowding the wing or hackle space. If you’re making a
Waking style, then build the body in thirds all the way up to the wing base.
hackle you will use depending on the style of tie you are creating. With either
style, you want hackle that has fibers about one and one-half the length of the
hook gape. If tied as a waking fly, simply add three or four turns of a soft, wet-fly
grade hackle in front of the wing, tie it off at the back of the head space,
build a small head and finish. If tied as a skater, select two good dry-fly
quality hackles and trim the stem at the beginning of any soft fibers at the
base. Strip off a few fibers from the base and tie them in one at a time good
side (shiny side) down at the front of the body pointing back toward the hook
bend. Tie in one on top of the other with good tight wraps. Advance your thread
to the back of the head space. Wrap three to five equally spaced wraps behind
the wing and the same number in front of the wing. The goal is to leave one
stem-width worth of space between every wrap for the next hackle to fill in.
Don’t spread the wraps too wide or crowd them too close. Tie off the first
feather but don’t trim it yet, in case you need to unwrap and rewind it. Now
wrap the second feather in between the wraps of the first, Move the feather
forward and backward as you wrap to allow the fibers of the first hackle to
move out of the way as you work forward. Tie off the second hackle as well then
inspect and untie, unwrap, re-wrap and tie off again as needed. Once you’re
satisfied make a few extra wraps, trim off the excess, wrap a small head,
finish and you’re done.
of the patterns featured in Flyfisning & Tying Journal are available in
detailed step-by-step Flash Slideshows on my website: www.modernclassicsflytying.com.
Authors Web Site: www.modernclassicsflytying.com
Authors email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin W. Erickson is the author
of the new book published by Stackpole Books titled “Feather Craft – The
Amazing Birds and Feathers Used in Classic Salmon Flies” Get a preview of what
it has to offer at www.FeatherCraftBook.com.
Kevin W. Erickson
© December 2016
Editor's Notes: Comments from the Editor
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