Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith

Special Flies, part I

Posted by nwflytyer on April 25, 2009

I’ve mentioned previously that I got my introduction to fly fishing at the age of twelve by my grandfather.  It was tradition in our family for each of his grandkids – the summer after turning 12 years of age – to learn the nuances of casting and fly fishing with this seasoned angler.  I remember those days very well, and perhaps a recounting of those yearly trips will appear, but that is for another time.  For now, I want to talk about the flies.

Royal Bucktail

Royal Bucktail

For a man as accomplished at fly fishing as my grandfather, I always thought it strange that he basically fished with one fly – the Royal Bucktail.  Yes, one  primary pattern served him on his trips from California to Canada.  Obviously, I did not inherit his austerity when it comes to flies.  Lord, no!  As I explain to people when I pore over yet another box of flies pulled from the recesses of my vest, “Hey, I’m a tyer.  It’s what I do.”

This is one of the flies from my granddad’s collection.  He was not a tyer himself, and he told me once he had this elderly Indian woman tie dozens of these bucktails for him at a time.  Sizes 6 and 8 primarily.  Standard wet fly hook.  Big by today’s standards.

We fished on the Deschutes River in early to mid-June before the summer harvest got into full swing.  Drift fishing for browns, I learned from the expert how to present my flies to the fish in all the nooks and crannies along the shoreline.  Behind rocks, next to logs, back into the reedy areas.  We always caught a lot of fish.  Not always trophy-size monsters, but consistent numbers of good trout.  The Royal Bucktail was certainly the first fly I ever used. Caught my first fly rod trout on one. The same holds true for my sister and all of my cousins.  It will always hold a special place in my heart and my fly box.


A few Royal Bucktails for my fly box

The pattern as we knew it (varies slightly from some published recipes):

Hook:  Wet fly, size 6-8

Tail:  Red hackle fibers

Body:  Peacock herl at the front and rear, with red floss in between.

Throat:  Brown

Wing:  White bucktail, or hair of choice

Here are some that I recently tied to replenish my stock –>


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