Thank you for visiting our fly tying blog! Here you will find free step-by-step instructions for fly patterns that we have found to be very successful while fishing on the Tributaries of Lake Erie known as " Steelhead Alley." You will also be able to see step-by-step instructions for warm water, tube, trout, and destinational fly patterns. If you would like to request a pattern tutorial that you do not see,please send requests to

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mike's Reaper

All right big fly you go! The Reaper is 7" of fish wrecking fury at the end of your line. I had intended to get this up for you all in time for the initial salmon run in Michigan, but low and hot water put it off so I just lost track of time. The recent rains and colder weather have fish finally moving in to the rivers so for the next couple weeks you have a chance to hook up with some seriously strong fish both in the rivers and at the mouths. With this fly you no longer have to be jealous of the gear guys throwing Thundersticks...this fly has all the size and mass they do but you can give it some seriously sexy slink in the water with the right retrieve.

Thread: UTC140 denier
Hook: Gamagatsu SL12S 8/0
Body1: Yak hair
Body2: Icelandic Sheep hair
Body3: Whiting Flatwing Saddle hackle
Flash: Flashabou
Head: Large Northern Bucktail
Eyes: 1/2" 3D Holographic Epoxy, Super Pearl

STEP 1: Start off by placing the 8/0 Gamagatsu SL12S firmly in your vise jaws, then get your thread started. No need to cover the hook shank with your thread on a pattern of this size, so simply getting your thread started towards the back of the hook is perfectly acceptable.

STEP 2: First off on this fly is the yak underbody. Tie in a chunk of yellow yak on top of the hook shank and orange on the bottom. To help add bulk it is best to tie each hunk in with a fair amount hanging off the front of the hook, then fold it back, tie it off, then trim it down to the desired shape.

STEP 3: The first round of Flashabou is then added with Pearl Yellow on top of the hook shank and Pearl Orange on bottom. Hold the flash in place for the length you wish to achieve, give a few secure thread wraps, then fold the flash back and tie it down. This allows you to waste less Flashabou as well as ensure it will not pull out.

STEP 4: The next step to add bulk to the body of the fly is to tie in the Icelandic Sheep hair. Again to assist with a larger profile you will tie in the hair hanging off the front ot the hook shank, with yellow on top and orange underneath. Seeing as delicacy is not an issue, make sure to give a good 6-10 tight wraps with both tufts of hair in place to really lock them in place. These wraps should end up at about the halfway point of the hook shank.

STEP 5: With the Icelandic Sheep Hair off the front of the hook you will now reverse the two bunches of hair backwards and secure them. As stated in the previous step you can give it a fair number of tight wraps to lock the hair in place.

STEP 6: Now for the second addition of Flashabou. As before you will take a liberal amount of yellow flash for the top and orange for the bottom. Lay it out to length on the tail, a few tight wraps in the middle, then reverse and secure with a few tight wraps. During this step you will use the thread torque, and your fingers if necessary, to ensure you have flash around the whole body of the fly.

STEP 7: Pick out a few Flatwing Saddle feathers in the appropriate colors and tie them in at a length that alllows for the correct body taper to continue as you build the fly.

STEP 8 (optional): This is an optional step to be used for those color combinations that you wish to have a dark top. For the Firetiger combination shown here I tie in a few grizzly green hackles.

STEP 9: The final material to be added to the fly is the bucktail head. Advance your thread to just behind the eye. At that point you will tie in a chunk of green bucktail on top of the hook shank and orange on the bottom of the hook shank. You will tie the hair in with the tips extending out over the eye of the hook. Make sure to give half a dozen or so good tight wraps, after each bunch it tied in, to really lock the hair in place before moving to the next step.

STEP 10: After making sure the hair is tightly secured behind the eye of the hook you will now reverse the hair backwards and tie down with 10-12 wraps. To assist you in reversing the hair it may be helpful to use a pen tube ;literally a pen with the tip and insides removed. slide the pen tube over the eye of the hook, and that will flair then reverse the hair. I usually hit this joint with Hard as Hull and then whip finish right behind the eye.

STEP 11: To finish the fly I then use Zap a Gap gel to affix a 1/2" 3D Epoxy Super Pearl to each side. If I could find bigger 3D eyes I would use them!
Whether targetting fish in the rivers or out on the main lakes this fly has the size to move some serious water and the slink to match. Tied in various color combinations you can match the fly to the current water and light conditions. I have them stocked in my box in Firetiger, Green/White, Black/Orange, Orange/White, Pink/White, Blue/White, and Blue/Orange. While this was tied up with casting for salmon in mind, it is a serious mouthful for any predator fish that may be around and looking for food. I like to throw this on my 8WT with 250 or 300gr sinking line, though on the big water you may want to go heavier both with the rod weight and the line weight.
To order this pattern or my other patterns, or if you have any questions about the pattern that were not addressed, please visit or find me at Anglers Choice Flies on Facebook.