The Orange Crush
**Featured in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Northwest Fly Fishing**
Hook: Daiichi 2441 (std. salmon iron) , # 2/0
Tail: Equal parts orange and red marabou with a few strands of orange Krystal Flash on either side
Underbody: Flat silver tinsel
Rear Body: Strip of hot orange Edge Brite wrapped over the tinsel in overlapping turns
Body Hackle: Black saddle or schlappen feather
Front Body: 2/3 black seal, 1/3 red seal
Wing: Black squirrel tail, topped with a few strands of orange Krystal Flash
Hackle: Red schlappen
Head: Fire orange
Note: A big, bright fly for winter steelhead.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at this fly, but I am a bit of a traditionalist as a fly tyer. I have taken some grief at times from my modernist friends for sticking with stodgy old flies that use mere silks, furs and feathers. I defend myself by yelling “scoreboard” – as I hold my own with all of them – but they like to think I’m stuck in some sort of time warp. While there may be a kernel of truth to that, I am open to anything that will possibly improve my flies. And my fishing. Indeed, when something new comes along that poses interesting possibilities, all bets are off.
I remember running across the Dean River Lantern series of steelhead flies originated by Art Cohen. While the patterns themselves were rather simple affairs – squirrel hair tail, a colored body wrap, and a matching collared hackle – I was intrigued by the shiny, glowing body material. It was called Edge Brite, and I filed that away in my memory.
On a subsequent trip to the fly shop, I found this unique vinyl material. I walked out with three or four colors of Edge Brite and started running through ideas for incorporating it into my flies. Inspired by the Dean River Lantern, but wanting a more robust fly, I set about creating what turned out to be the Orange Crush.
Though there are more components and tying steps to the Orange Crush than to its inspirational predecessor, it is nothing too complicated. Tied in sizes #2 – #2/0 it is designed to move a bit of water, provide a strong hot spot of color, and present a traditional silhouette to the fish. It blends three of my favorite colors for a steelhead fly: orange, black, and red.
The key to making this fly really “sizzle” is wrapping the Edge Brite over a layer of flat silver tinsel. This makes the fly much brighter than simply covering a base of tying thread. The Orange Crush is particularly effective in low light conditions or in turbid water.
After a couple of iterations, the fly was officially christened on a trip to one of my Oregon coastal stream haunts on a frigid winter day. The fishing had been slow according to the few hardy souls my partner and I encountered along the way, but we pressed on. Noting the off-colored water and wanting to try something new, I thought it a good time to try the Orange Crush. It proceeded to make the trip a particularly enjoyable outing that resulted in a beautiful, bright winter steelhead brought to hand with another solid hookup for good measure. We decided the experience finalized the recipe, as it certainly proved its worth that day.
The Orange Crush has since been fished all over the Northwest by myself and my friends from Southern Oregon to British Columbia. I don’t know that it has yet been fished on the Dean, but I can promise you that it will be the first fly out of my box if I ever make that trip!