Saving your fishing universe.
One weary late morning in the duck blind, as ducks flared high above my decoys, I daydreamed about the patterns in the clouds, and how flies were a lot like clouds. They were impressionistic: blobs of stuff that look sort of like dragons and mermaids, or mayflies and crayfish. Then, as another duck flared, I envisioned a new fly. Like Monet’s great paintings, when the Drake-a-Nator is viewed up close, it looks like a bunch of chenille and hair, but when held at arms length, it looks like a good old greenhead flaring his wings—sort of.
Hook: Dai-Riki #700, size 2-6
Thread: 3/0 olive
Tail: wood duck or mallard flank
Body: white speckled chenille, natural rabbit strip, green estaz
Legs: orange rubber legs
Head: gold 3/16 cone
1. To start, take a Dai-Riki #700 or equivalent in sizes 2-6.
2. Slip on a gold beadhead (the beak), and wrap your thread on the shank of the hook. For the tail tie in a clump of mallard flank or similar material; wood duck flank has more contrast, as pictured.
3. Tie in a strand of speckled chenille in white. This will become the body of the fly.
4. About a third of the shank’s length moving toward the eye, tie in two long strands of orange rubber legs perpendicular to the shank. Make a figure-eight pattern over the strands, so that two legs protrude from each side of the fly. Behind this point, tie onto the hook the last third of a natural zonker strip cut 1/8-inch wide.
5. Move your thread toward the eye of the hook, then begin wrapping the chenille. Lift the tag end of the strip up, make about three wraps, move it to the front of the tie-in point of the strip, and wrap the chenille forward.
6. Use the same technique you did going around the strip for negotiating the rubber legs. Now finish wrapping it just a few turns from the gold cone. Tie the strand off, and trim it.
7. Now pull the rabbit strip toward the eye, and make several wraps securing it to the hook where you finished wrapping the speckled chenille. A drop of Zap-a-Gap will help secure it. The rabbit strip should drape back a bit, but sit atop the shank of the hook.
8. Tie in another strand of rubber legs in front of the strip as before.
9. Tie in your estaz or other green speckled chenille, and make wraps up to the cone.
10. Tie it off and whip finish and cement behind the cone.
The Drake-a-Nator is complete, and ready to fish for trout during any season when they are hitting streamers. The cone gives it the necessary weight to drop it deep and the undulation of the zonker strip and the rubber legs ought to make this fly irresistible fowl for your trout hunting. Good luck.
Jeff Hostetler is a full-time instructor at Gallatin College. He spends his winters riding at Bridger and the rest of the year fly fishing southwest Montana.