So, lets get one thing straight, right from the git-go: this fly is NOT an Intruder. Not in my opinion anyway. What an Intruder really is or is not is probably best decided by the beholder, and many people have come to believe whole heatrtedly that a really humongous wad of material lashed onto one or more shanks with a stinger hook can be considered to be an Intruder, but having just published a book on Intruders (ha ha), I’d like to respectfully disagree.
I’ve been tying Intruder-style flies for the last 4 months straight, pretty much tying nothing but what people might call Intruders. Unlike some of my more experienced steelhead and salmon fly fisher friends, I am not an authority on the Intruder. But I’ve been diligently researching and watching videos and reading blogs and talking to people, and have come to form my own opinion about flies that merit the label Intruder. Many of the flies I tied in the early phases of tying and photographing step by step images of flies under construction were eventually discarded after months of effort.
Discarded not because the flies won’t catch fish, because I’m absolutely convinced they will, but because my own impression of an Intruder’s key features evolved over the course of deep immersion in the book project. So now I have some 300 or so very large flies tied on tubes and shanks that are perfectly good enticers to catch salmon and steelhead, and sixteen photo images of each fly, all in the figurative trash heap. Take the fly above for example. this is one good looking steelhead and salmon fly and it is even tied in an Intruder-like fashion, but the finished product lacks the distinction of visually separate thorax and butt sections, and that’s what I look for in a fly that I will now classify as an Intruder.
I could be correct or off the mark, but after tying over 300 flies, taking all the photos, and swimming the flies in bowls, sinks, bathtubs, swim tanks, and rivers, catching a few steelhead along the way, my opinions regarding the classification of Intruders has become far more stringent than when I started tying for the book. With over fifty years experience tying flies for trout, salmon, and steelhead – fishing for these magnificent creatures all the way, I have some pretty well developed instincts regarding the character of flies that will catch these fish.
The only feature lacking in this fly is the ability to maintain clear distinction between butt and thorax sections of the fly. It all comes together well and good, and the fly will certainly catch salmon and steelhead of epic proportion, but underwater, with the river’s flow, this fly will take on the appearance of one large fly, rather than two. The fish won’t care, they will eat the darn thing anyway, but it won’t be featured in my book Intruder Essentials, because it doesn’t meet my self-imposed standards. Silly, I agree, but taking to the river to fish with a fly rod is a silly venture too, so I guess I’m in good company.
Rather than waste the sweat and blood invested into this otherwise very fine fly, Ill show the step by step photos here with the materials list. This is a good fly and it caught fish for me this winter. Darn it all, it still didn’t make the cut. The flies featured in Intruder Essentials do, and I’ll follow with one of those shortly. The video series I’ve produced on tying various Intruders include flies that will and will not maintain the distinctly separate butt and thorax sections, so you should give them a go and see if your flies run together or not.
So here we have a really nice steelhead and salmon fly in the 3″ class that doesn’t quite exhibit the character of distinct butt and thorax segments, so I’m not quite satisfied calling it an Intruder. What do you think? It’s all good stuff and the semantics are a little perplexing at times.
Transforming this fly into one that would fit my criteria as an Intruder would be simple. How so? If you or I tied this very same fly on an OPST 55mm shank or a long tube, we could stretch out the waist of the fly, thereby changing the overall visual impression of the fly from a solid entity that catches fish to a fly that exhibits distinct butt and thorax segments, sort of like fishing two flies with a spacer to keep the two entities separated. Sorry, but I’ve become more and more opinionated as I’ve worked on these flies, fished them, researched the fly style, and so on. The Fly Photographed below shows this transformation, achieved with the 55mm OPST shank to stretch out the fly profile and allow fore and aft sections of the fly to remain distinctive. Both very nice fishy and effect flies, just a little different.
Please consider that what I’m proposing as just this – a proposition, an opinion, and one person’s take on the Intruder-style fly. I hope the Intruder Police don’t excommunicate me from steelhead camp for my rant, and that more knowledgable tyers will set me straight, or at least offer their perspective so that I may continue on the path to fishy wisdom.
If you are intrigued with tying Intruder-style flies onTubes and Shanks – I invite you to check this out….
More to follow on Intruders in the months ahead, as well as reviews of Fly Fishing Book of Revelation, which by the way, everyone who has looked at says it is a scream plus being semi educational and oh yes BTW Jeff Mishler put a link to my books on his Skagit Master Page after immersing himself in the Glossary for a month and couldn’t put it down – and thanks for your patience on this topic.
Jay Nicholas, March 2015