Bootleg Fly: Green Butt Purple Skunk vs. Silver Hilton

Well, we set our clocks forward, the days are getting longer, March Madness is nearly upon us, and spring is in the air. All this, of course, means summer steelhead aren't far behind.

I'm still inspired by mash-up DJs and bootleg fly patterns, and longing for some summer steelhead action, so I decided to combine two of my favorite low water summer patterns. A little Green Butt Purple Skunk, a bit Silver Hilton, this fly is absolutely wicked on the greased line swing.

I've always loved the grizzly hackle tip wing on the Silver Hilton. It's such a severe, sparse fly, yet these long, dramatic wings bring a graceful, rich, and sweeping quality to it. I always use Diamond Brite dubbing for the butt on this fly because it just adds a little something else to the mix, something that pedestrian chenille can't hope to provide.

Underwater, the two stately hackle tips hold forth. They gyrate, flow, and tantalize (if you haven't seen it, get a copy of Lani Waller's original steelhead tapes and watch him fish the Silver Hilton with great success).

When I fish the Deschutes in August, I like to carry a whole box of these in addition to a full array of summer Spey and Dee patterns, as well as a whack of caddis and stonefly adults. It's a smallish Wheatley box. I keep it in my left chest pocket next to a tightly rolled Ramon Allones and beneath a small nip flask of Bullet.

I can't wait for the dog days.

The Green Bootie Purple Hilton >>

Hook >> Tiemco 7999SP, sizes 8-4
Thread >> Wapsi UTC Ultra Thread, 210 denier, red
Bootie >> Spirit River Diamond Brite Dubbing, caddis green
Ribbing >> Wapsi UTC French Oval Tinsel, medium, silver
Body >> Spirit River Angora goat dubbing, dark stone
Collar >> Spirit River Schlappen, purple
Wing >> Matched Keough grizzly hackle tips

Maybe the dog days aren't here yet, and we may not have a summer run for a few months, but in the meantime, here's a little something from DJ Axel, Hova, and GNR to carry you through... (Axl Rose's white leather get up is so rad).

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

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Fly Recipe: Shunji's Kabuki Fly

In the 1600s a new form of dance theater emerged in the dusty streets of Kyoto, Japan. The men and women who performed in these gritty, impromptu plays depicted "ordinary life" in 17th Century Japan and they did so with a new, avant-garde, and sexually charged style that became known as "Kabuki."

Here is an image of an early Kabuki performer, Izumo no Okuni (from Okuni Kabuki-zu Byōbu, a six-panel screen, a collection of Kyoto National Museum).The suggestive nature of these early performances (and their loose association with prostitution) quickly drew attention from all corners of Japanese society and the movement developed at a fevered pace. Soon, Kabuki performers were gracing not only the stages of Kyoto's crowded and narrow streets, but the guilded halls of the Japanese Imperial Court as well. This tradition continues today, and although it's changed a great deal over the centuries, the obsessively stylized and edgy spirit of Kabuki remains.

It's with this same spirit that Shunji, a San Francisco, CA-based angler and fly tyer, developed his Kabuki Fly.

In Shunji's aesthetic contemplation of the fly, color and shape are clearly important. Also, proportion and exactitude shine through in the design. According to Shunji, "I wanted to have a small body profile while keeping enough volume to be a good snack size for trout and steelhead. At the same time, I wannted to give the fly a longer profile for a good swimming action."

He went on to say, "I think these flies are very useful in many conditions; they'll fish well in fast water or calm, pool-like water. I prefer the faster water. They could be used from Russian river to the Smith I hope!"
Shunji's Kabuki Fly demonstrates the value of precision, thoughtfullness, and experimentation in the world of fly tying.

Scholars believe the word "kabuki" is derived from the Japanese verb "kabuku," which means "to lean" or "to be out of the ordinary." Loosely translated into English, kabuki means "avant-garde."

Whatever you want to call them, Shunji's Kabuki Flies are certainly out of the ordinary. Modern fly designers, take note.

Shunji's Kabuki Fly >>

Hook >> Gamakatsu Octupus size 6, and 7999 size 8
Thread >> Danville 6/0 red for some of them, black for some of them
Wing >> Black bucktail
Hackle >> Schlappen, color is varied
Rib >> Medium silver flat tinsel
Body >> Wool dubbing or Angora goat dubbing
Butt >> Black bucktail
Throat >> Natural guinea feather or natural teal flank feather

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos and flies courtesy of Shunji, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Fly Recipe: Ian's Whiplash Prawn

Well, Ian McNemar has been logging some hard hours at the vise lately. He's been caught up in the world of tube flies now for a while, and it looks like the obsession is paying off.

Here are two variations of his newest tube pattern, a fly he calls the Whiplash Prawn.

I think he likes Metallica...

Ian's Purple Whiplash Prawn >>

Tube >> HMH thick wall micro tubing nested with clear HMH hybrid tubing
Feelers >> Black bucktail
Flash >> Pearl crystal splash
Butt >> Pink angora goat dubbing
Body >> Claret wool dubbing
Rib >> Small oval silver tinsel
Hackle >> Purple schlappen
Wing >> Black bear hair
Thread >> Danville 6/0 gray/blue
Hook >> Daiichi 1650 tube fly hook, size 6

Ian's Orange Whiplash Prawn >>

Tube >> HMH thick-wall micro tubing nested with HMH orange hybrid tubing for the junction
Eyes >> Small pink shiny beads glued onto 33lb hard mono
Feelers >> Black bucktail
Butt >> Pink angora goat dubbing
Body >> Brown angora boat dubbing
Rib >> Small silver oval tinsel
Hackle >> Orange schlappen
Wing >> Black bear hair
Thread >> Red Danville 6/0
Hook >> Daiichi 1650 tube fly hook, size 6

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos and flies courtesey of Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


All Mashed Up: Bootleg Flies

Progress and development in fly tying (aside from the really ground-breaking stuff) resembles the pirate-minded bootlegging of the post-modern bastardized-pop world of digital music. Mashups, smashups, cutups, and boots, are tracks that combine the rythym and vocals of different pop songs to create new, Frankenstein-ed creations. Some love them, some hate them, but it seems they're here to stay.

(Here is a fine example of a mash up for those of you who may not have noticed this under-the-radar, barely legal form of music making:

"Tender Umbrella," Party Ben, Rihanna vs. General Public

If you'd like to learn more about mashups, www.bootiesf.com is a great place to get acquainted with them.)

Hot "new" flies are most often mashups, the result of modern artists combining fly patterns new and old, or elements of them, to create something else to toss into the drift.

And so the analogy is drawn; tyers of new and modern flies
blend tying techniques, color, proportion, design, and materials in the same way digital DJs mix beats, vocals, riffs, and genres to push things forward.

The Original Bootleg Fly: Lefty vs. Bob, the Half and Half

The Half & Half: Just like rich Guinness Stout and crisp Harp Lager at your favorite Irish pub, right? Well, not exactly, but the Clouser/Kreh Half & Half is similarly designed and is perhaps the original mashup of the modern fly tying world.

By ingeniously combining two of the most effective baitfish fly patterns in the history of saltwater fly fishing (a little Clouser Minnow on top, a little Lefty’s Deceiver on bottom), Bob Clouser and Lefty Kreh created a bootleg "Super Fly" and may have stumbled upon one of the most incredible Frankenstein flies a surf-cruising striped bass or ravenous blue will ever lay its eyes and lips on!

To be clear, making a comparison between musical mashups and bootleg flies should not in any way detract from the value of the progression of fly tying (or music).

It's simply a different way to think about the flies we tie.

In fact, I'd argue that, just as the greatest (and worst) tracks of the mashup world demonstrate, a lot goes into the understanding of how to create something new (and good) from something old.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com