Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

I’m a Dad again! I have a new son. He’s now about 11 weeks old. His name is Ruffles. Here’s a picture:

This kid is a handful, but we’re trai…no, make that, he’s training us. And although he’s about as much a watchdog or a hunting dog as a goldfish would be, and although his primary mission in life seems to be acting like a goofball, he has one stellar attribute: His super-soft ginger-colored wavy locks are just begging to be used on a trout fly.

So I stole a tiny snip while he terrorized his squeaky squirrel toy, and tied a couple up.  Here’s the recipe:

Hook:  #14 Gamakatsu “Executive Series, Keel-Balance” C13U
Body:  SemperFli “Dirty Bug Yarn,” Caddis Brown
Weight:  Size 0.010 weight wire, your choice of type
Ribbing:  Wapsi Ultra- wire, red, small
Thread:  Dark brown or black
Hackle:  One small light brown partridge soft-hackle feather
Tail:  A small snip of hair from Ruffles The Puppy

The tie is conventional – weight-wire winds onto the shank first, then the tail is added, then tie in the ribbing wire at the tail’s base, then build the body and follow by ribbing it with the wire, then tie in the soft hackle and make a couple of winds (medium to sparse is best), then finish off with a thread head.  Simple.

Any nymph or wet fly hook should be fine. I used a #14 Gamakatsu “Executive Series, Keel-Balance” C13U hook because I like them. They’re similar in shape to the Daiichi 1150 and the Gamakatsu “Octopus Hook,” but I like the C13U better because it’s made of fine black spring steel, has a wide gape, has an upturned eye which improves hooking clearance, is needle-sharp, and happens to make a great dry fly hook too. For subsurface flies I just add weight, and then I finish the head with purple thread to signal to myself that it’s weighted.

The body can actually be any darkish brown dubbing, or probably any dark floss too, but I find I really like the new SemperFli “Dirty Bug” yarn. If you can find it in a blended shade that suits the look you want, it appears as good as dubbing for most tasks. It still supports creation of fat or thin bodies as needed, at least for most fly sizes (I separated the two strands and just used one, for this #14 fly), and it offers some extra advantages: It’s just the right ratty bugginess without needing to mess with dubbing loops or trim the result, it’s more durable when encountering trout teeth than at least the dubbing noodles I’m able to create, and being on a spool it’s just so darned convenient. I tied two versions of this fly – one using a strand of “Dirty Bug” Caddis Brown yarn (which I really wouldn’t have had to rib to keep it as durable as I like flies to be), and one with dark brown Aussie Possum nymph dubbing. Both look good, both are dark enough to yield some contrast with respect to the lighter-colored tail and soft hackle, and at press time both seem to attract hits from rainbows equally well.

This pattern follows a common theme for me – darker body, lighter hackle and tail – which serves me really well in so many waters and scenarios. Like my dark wine-colored wet fly with its white wood duck hackle and tail (which I named after my daughter since for luck I used a lock of her hair in the first one), this one provides the contrast that gets the job done.  These are the kinds of flies I invariably tie on and upon which I generally stake my luck. Long ago I first tried the wine-body fly thinking it gave a kind of “photo-negative” effect, but really I don’t know what the fish think these flies are…I just know that they’ll hit them if they see them.

If this fly is similar…even quasi-identical…to some age-old March Brown or Dark Hendrickson or Peacock & Partridge or some Pheasant Tail soft-hackle pattern, I don’t care. DON’T CARE! Let others use stodgy old names; I call this one the “Partridge and Ruffles,” and that’s that. Equal parts Tradition and Love.

I think a body darker than the wavy bits is important, but otherwise I’ve indicated that everything from hook to body material to thread to optional ribbing can pretty much vary with your whim.

But as for the tail, can you go ahead and use any brown hair or fur? NO!  You MUST use “the hair of The Dog,” the fur harvested from the master shoe-chewer himself…you MUST use authentic Ruffles hair. Substitutes are taboo, banned, disallowed; there is no other way to get the proper results. So please now order very small quantities for very large sums of squeaky toy money from me, and while the sleeping dog lies (if he ever does, which certainly doesn’t seem to be during the night), I’ll see if I can snag you a snip.

Fully endorsed by:

Michael Vorhis


  1. Hey Mike,
    Nice job! My only question is why haven’t you sent me a cigar to celebrate your new son?
    Also, I thought you might like to know I caught an 18″ brown two weeks ago using my my “flawed dry-long-dropper” set-up.! 🙂
    Hope all is well.

    1. Hi Joe, good to hear from you, and good to hear you’re getting out on the water. It’s been months since I’ve been out, courtesy of $6-per-gallon fuel…I can’t justify burning a hundred bucks on three hours of probably getting skunked. (Those who get between me and fishing are asking for it, lemme tell ya.) So I tie, and dream, and wait.

      Good job on accidentally snagging that 18″ brown with your rig while it slept! I mean, what are the odds of that??? Just amazing. Well now you’ve got a story to tell while you’re converting over to the single fly line-watching method.

      As for a cigar, be careful what you ask for…yes, I’ll send you one if you really want, but the cigars I come across these days are left by Ruffles in the back yard. Let me know the address to which I should send one of those little plastic bags, and I’ll be glad to share.

      Your pal,
      – Mike

      1. Hi Mike,
        Just kidding on the cigar. When I was younger I thought they were fun. Now I realize they make your mouth taste bad for a few days and stink up where ever you are smoking them. Even on the river you can smell someone smoking one 1/2 a mile away.
        You should calculate the odds of catching 73 fish on one day in 8 hours using the defective dry-dropper. I did that the week before the 18″ brown. It was an unbelievable day. Every pool and run produced several fish. My previous best was 62. Although I did get 32 fish out of a single pool about the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
        Patience on the gas prices, eventually they will come down. You are always welcome to fly to the Twin Cities to fish with me. However, you will have to lower your standards to the dry-dropper rig!
        all the best, Joe

        1. Hi Joe, you’re smart to avoid cigars (especially the ones I’m finding in the wake of “the galloping goofball”). Long ago my friends and I would gather once or twice a year and play penny poker, and the only two rules were that everyone around the table had to go by an “Old West” nickname of their own invention, and everyone had to be smoking the stinkiest of cigars. I was the most accomplished cheapskate of the bunch, so my cigars were the most foul.

          I salute your 73 fish in one day! You weren’t casting into the hatchery’s fish delivery truck, were you? Seriously, I would never suggest your dry-dropper rig preference is defective; I know it’s a tried-and-true method and I know you swear by it and use it well. I don’t tend to use it because I get more tangles with multi-fly rigs, and because where I fish the depth changes so drastically in the fish-holding water — my dropper would have to be 5 feet long or more, and then it’d be a mess in the tailouts. I’d rather just get the primary fly down wherever it needs to be. I enjoy my line-watching method when I’m fishing upstream (which is not often…I do a lot of downstream swinging so takes are easily felt). Although I don’t get the nearly numbers you do, I chalk that up to much fewer fish in the water (people stock their freezers from some of the waters I fish). I think I’d do alright in good water…although maybe no more than 72 and a half fish in a day.

          Yes, gas prices…must be patient…things will change.

          I spent the early morning today eyeing Ruffles’ longer locks. He caught me looking at him funny, and is now on his guard when I’m within reach of a scissors.

          – Mike

          1. Hey Mike,
            I was mostly teasing you since you poked at my system in your article. Confidence in what you are fishing with makes a big difference on how well you fish. I resorted to your method earlier this year when a guide I used previously suggested I try swinging wooly buggers through some deeper holes and slots in the early season (Feb. – Mar.) looking for some bigger fish and did just fine.
            Dogs can be pretty perceptive – maybe we can get some people to take lessons from them.
            Take care – hope you can get out soon.
            All the best, Joe

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