Flies of Yesteryear Part Two Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Standing in Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop in Livingston, Montana in the mid seventies , Charley Waterman handed me a streamer. Confidently, he exclaimed, “This will work well on your smallmouth back in Virginia as well as the trout here in Montana.”
Charlie said he bought six of them in a fly shop in Maine. They were labeled as Silver Doctors. He showed them to his friend Dan Bailey that summer on his trip to Livingston. He explained how these Silver Doctors were effective for both trout in Montana and smallmouth bass in Maine.
Dan who was a master of Atlantic Salmon flies, including the Silver Doctor, examined Waterman’s fly closely. Dan politely looked at Charlie and exclaimed, “Charlie, I am glad that fly is so effective but it is not a Silver Doctor. The fly tyer took so many shortcuts in tying that fly that I would have to call it a Silver Outcast.”
This really is one of the most productive streams I have found for smallmouth bass. These bass are feeding on natural shiner minnows along aquatic grassbeds. At dusk many bass crash into the grassbeds in water from two to three feet deep to cash in on this rich food supply. Many stretches of the Potomac, James and Shenandoah have such long areas of these grassbeds. I can often spend the whole evening fishing just one of them with the Silver Outcast.
The fly is unweighted and stream lined. This makes it easy to shoot a fast cast out in front of a bass chasing shiner minnows in the grassbeds.
Trout take the Silver Outcast readily in all types of trout streams. Its natural swimming action and realistic minnow-shape, I believe, accounts for this great appeal to the trout.
Silver Outcast Streamer Tying Materials
Hook: Mustad 9672 size 4, 6 or 8
Thread: Black 3/0 Prewaxed Monocord
Body: Flat Silver Mylar Tinsel
Wing: White, Yellow and Blue Bucktail
Top of Wing: Peacock Herl
Flies of Yesteryear Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Many of you have asked me for more information on some of the flies that I used in the past. This is not meant to be a precise historical account of these flies. As you know many of the old flies were tied in different ways. This is just some information on these flies as I remember them.
When I started fishing the Yellowstone River in the seventies many of us were big fish hunting. Dan Bailey who had a fine fly shop in Livingston, Montana was a expert angler. He was very helpful to visiting anglers like me. He said that many of the large trout fed on bull head minnows in the deep runs.
The two flies he used were the Dark Sprucefly and the Muddler. Dan said he fished these on a Scientific Anglers Hi D Fast Sinking thirty foot Head. He then attached this to one hundred feet of twenty five pound test mono. I followed Dan’s directions and caught many large browns.
A few years later, Donnie Williams, one of Dan’s guides, and Red Monical, Dan’s partner, decided to merge the Spruce Fly with the Muddler. The result was the Spuddler.
By this time the term bull head minnow was replaced by the name Sculpin Minnow. Certainly the Spuddler which Donnie and Red developed was one of our first effective sculpin minnow streamers. Today I use it for trout and smallmouth bass all across the country.
Yes, we have sculpin minnows in many smallmouth bass rivers. When I was a kid I used to seine them to use them as live bait when I was smallmouth bass fishing on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at Edinburg, Virginia.
In fact, I was recently guiding two smallmouth bass anglers on a float trip on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The Spuddler fly was very productive that day! About two miles upstream of our take out spot a very heavy rain storm moved in on us. One of the anglers wanted to quit but his partner would not consider it. He insisted on fishing until dark and caught a nice smallmouth bass about every third cast.
My favorite tactic for both trout and smallmouth bass with the Spuddler is to cast across stream. After it sinks deeply, swim it back slowly across the streambottom by stripping it six inches every ten seconds.
Here is one of the recipes for the components used in tying the Spuddler. I just checked one of my old streamer fly boxes and I found Spuddlers tied in five different ways. They all came from Dan’s fly shop.
Spuddler Tying Materials
Hook: Mustad 9672 size 4, 6, 8 or 10
Thread: Brown 3/0 Prewaxed Monocord
Body Weight: Medium Lead Free Wire
Body: Cream Yarn
Wing: Dark Furnace Hackle and Squirrel Tail
Head and Collar: Brown Deer Body Hair
Tail: Brown Calf Tail
Throat: Red Yarn