Euro-Capes, Intruders & the “Clumping” Revelation

robs intruder 1

First, some good news: The Caddis Fly just bought a bunch of super-bitchin’ Euro-Capes in natural grizzly, red, pink, blue and purple. These necks have extremely long, durable hackles, perfect for Pick-Yer-Pockets and Intruders. Since the cute hippie chicks vacuumed up the world’s supply of Euro-Saddles a few months ago, these Euro-Capes are a welcome sight.

euro cape 2

Next, I owe you Oregon Flyfishing Blog readers an update on Intruder tying. For those who missed my step-by-step post on tying shank-style Intruders, check out this link:

At the time of my last Intruder post in December of 2009, I was spending roughly two hours per fly. Most of that time was eaten up in the dubbing-loop stages, and at that time I was using between four and six dubbing loops for each fly. Soon after the post, I eliminated the rear dubbing loop. This trimmed a little time off the fly, but more importantly, it “opened up” the fly, removing some bulk and allowing the inner workings of the fly to be seen from behind.

Another issue nagged at me. I had always been disappointed by the lack of movement in Lady Amherst. For all its “bugginess,” the material looked utterly dead in the water. After studying Brian Kite’s ingenious Pick-Yer-Pocket, a widely available variation of the Intruder, I decided to incorporate grizzly hackle tips into my Intruders instead of the Amherst fibers. The results were great, and today all my flies use grizzly tips to provide contrast and movement. This step eliminated one more dubbing loop, but offered no real time savings, as each tip had to be tied in separately.

dubbing loop 3

The big revelation came this January. At one of our early-season winter steelhead camps, Jason Koertge, Spencer Miles and I sat around the cabin table tying and drinking. While we were still coherent, Jason took a moment to show Spencer how to “clump” craft-fur. He tied in the fur in reverse, trimmed the butt-ends short, then folded the fur back over itself, adding a bump of thread in front to stand it up. Then he greased the fur back with spit and tied in a clump of ostrich herl, also in reverse, just ahead of the craft fur. Finally, he pulled the ostrich back and wrapped another bump of thread in front.

intruder fly pattern 4

“You know, it’s like how they tie Temple Dogs, with the three-part wing?” Jason looked at us for some kind of acknowledgement, but we just stared at him wide-eyed.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I admitted. “But that is awesome!”

“Really?” His brow furrowed. “Bullshit. Your messing with me now,” he warned.

“No, seriously,” I said. “This is all new for me.” Spencer nodded, “Me, too.”

Jason sometimes takes for granted that everyone knows all the stuff he knows, which is funny, cuz most people only know about one third of what he knows. Anyway, he cranked out a sweet fly in a matter of seconds. Spencer and I were slack-jawed. He explained the Temple Dog routine of tying in the wing, in reverse, in three stages. This “clumping” technique created a much stronger flare than my dubbing loops, and they were fast. I knew immediately that Jason had turned my little world upside down.

My next Intruder was finished in 40 minutes and required only one dubbing loop, that for the furry head. The new fly had all the characteristics of a well-engineered Intruder, but with less bulk and more profile due to the extreme flare created by the three-step clumping technique. What’s more, the underside of the fly was completely open, revealing more of the layers and inner workings that were normally covered up by my dubbing loops. I laughed in disbelief, then tied another one just to be sure it was real.

finished intruder fly pattern 5

The next day we fished hard, and I tested my new Intruders diligently. Sure enough, as I followed my friends through a favorite run, the line tightened hard and a huge steelie hurled himself skyward. The great buck proved to be un-landable, and my hook came back considerably straightened. But the new Intruder had been sufficiently validated.

Since that trip, I’ve tied and tested dozens of these flies, and the results have been consistent. Like anything, the clumping technique takes practice and has a few pitfalls, but it puts Intruder tying on the fast track, so to speak.


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16 Responses to Euro-Capes, Intruders & the “Clumping” Revelation

  1. mlwebb says:

    Those look very nice, will have to try the clump. Thanks.

  2. That craft fur session has probably saved me 25 hours at the vise over the past two months. They’re not the prettiest of flies, but they’ve proven themselves in the water, and I can now crank out 6-8 flies in an hour instead of one! Kudos to Koertge.

    I’m glad you’re still doing the beautiful intruders though, Rob. They sold for a pretty penny at the auction on Saturday night, too.

  3. Dave E says:

    I’d love to see a step by step video of that! Nice work

  4. Bob Laskodi says:

    Fantastic Flies!!! I do have a quick question, what material are you using in the dubbing loop (the white stuff doesn’t look like craft fur)?

  5. Rob R says:

    Bob, I’m somewhat ashamed to say that white material is arctic fox. I love working with it, but my friend Sitka does not approve, and at some point I’m going to have to quit it.

  6. themostdangerousanimal says:

    Double fisting micro brews, filming, and tying an intruder is quite a feat! Nice work, Rob.

  7. miguel says:

    “Jason sometimes takes for granted that everyone knows all the stuff he knows, which is funny, cuz most people only know about one third of what he knows.”

    thanks for that, i am only at about one quarter and alot older.
    one thing i do know is that those flies won’t need any swimming lessons.

  8. Hickman says:

    Rob, Sitka wants her tail back! Synthetics work just fine

  9. Bob Laskodi says:

    Thanks Rob. I have arctic fox tail also, but mine does not look near as coarse as this stuff in your dubbing loop! That stuff looks really cool, on that very cool fly! And I’m looking for a little coarser fur to use on collars. Raccoon is closer, but not quite what I want. I thought it was polar bear and my supply of that is now all used up! Thanks again.

  10. Rob R says:

    Bob, you may have fox body fur, almost like rabbit fur. The tail is what you want. The Caddis Fly has Eumer fox tail patches in the right colors, and can special order any color Eumer offers.

  11. jason says:

    c’mon fellas, the only reason i know anything about that whole craft fur deal, or most other stuff worth talking about around a table fulla fur and feathers, is because i know, respect and idolize Dave “the 17th Allman Brother” Pinczkowski.

    he was the first one i saw do the reverse craft fur trick on his venerable Bad Hair Day flies, but he’s got this other trick he calls ‘thunking the fuzz’, which is an entirely different technique and post altogether.

    #17 = mad crazy soul. always.

  12. Eric says:

    Bit of a novice question here I’m sure, but here goes… So in the picture of the white fur in the dubbing loop, does that actually get spun, or just tied in tight as shown? A video would be sweet if you guys ever get the chance.

    And since that material is actually fox hair, do you imagine using craft fur would still work, or would you lose the flair?

  13. Jay Nicholas says:

    You are all sick puppies and need to be put out to puppy foster care so that you don’t spread fly tying germs of thought to other still-healthy puppies. Seriously. All this fly and material fanaticism is obvious displacement activity that distracts from the fact that you should be mowing the lawn, putting tire black on your mudders, or tidying the recycle bins in your garage.

  14. Rob R says:

    Eric, yes the white fox tail is spun, brushed, then wrapped to create the fuzzy head on the fly. Then brushed some more. Craft fur works great in the same application, though a little softer.

  15. Ross aka the fly tyin freak Slayton says:

    Nice work on your intruders! I have been using Emu feathers on my intruders and they rock! Due to the irregular curves and twists of these feathers they move and dance all over the place! Use em like you would your amhurst or hackle tips for outrageous flies.

  16. dom says:

    I was always been inspired by your intruders and I also just switched to clumping. It just opens up a fly a whole lot more. Rob, please tell me what kind of a hackle you used to palmer your bodies and what type grizzly wings do you use, Metz magnums? I tie mines on tubes, is there a particular reason you tie yours on shanks? I have to admit shanks looks much better than straight out tube, but I cant think of any practical reason why tie on shanks.

    Rob, thanks for your inspiration, these flies are killers for Great Lakes chinooks. Hopefully will do well on winter steel with these dolls

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