Demonstrated by Michael Dell at Northern Lights Fly Fishers on Wednesday September 26.
Fly tying doesn’t have to be complicated. You can make flies that catch fish with minimal materials. And you can tie these patterns fast so you can easily turn out a dozen for the next day.
40 Second Minnow
Hook: Mustad C67 size 8 or any heavy wire hook with a shank length of ½” or 1 cm
Tail and Body: olive marabou
This fly represents a pin minnow which is a small fry under 1” in overall length and very thin. (Unlike the many rapala-type lures featured on the internet which are too long and large to imitate small fry.) The naturals are olive in colour and you find these in schools around vegetation
Hook: Dry fly 10-18
Thread: colour to contrast with body
Wing, Tail and Body: Hair from a rabbit foot
The traditional version of this is tied with natural rabbit foot and red thread, with the thread showing through the dubbing. But there are all colours of dyed rabbit foot available so you can vary the colour of the thread to contrast with the body.
The fly pattern was invented by Fran Betters who substituted snowshoe rabbit foot hair for the deer hair he used for his Haystack pattern as an experiment. Bill Phillips first tried out the pattern on a stream and found that it fished well as a dry, nymph and emerger because of the floatability of the rabbit hair. When asked what he was using, Phillips would say “the usual.” Betters named the fly as Phillips Usual and tied it with grey thread to match the tones of the grey underfur from the rabbit foot. He found that ordinary rabbit foot worked as well as snowshoe rabbit. (Fran Betters’ Fly Fishing – Fly Tying and Pattern Guide. Wilmington, NY: Adirondack Sports Publication, 1986. p. 71-75) Somewhere along the way the name was shortened to the Usual, and the contrasting red thread was added to the recipe. Other colours of thread to use are chartreuse, bright yellow, gray and brown.
Plus bonus flies if we have time: Wally Lutz’s Elk Fuzz Fly and Frank Sawyer’s Grey Goose Nymph.