Ready for the June Dance

Prom Queen Salmon Fly (Designed by Walter Wiese 2006)

Prom Queen Salmon Fly (Designed by Walter Wiese 2006)

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, MT

I must admit I am not the fanatic that some anglers are about our annual salmon fly hatch. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to encounter the hatch on several different rivers when no one was around, but I just don’t go around chasing the hatch in late June and early July. But it is fun to catch trout on big dry flies and if you go after them, there are a lot of patterns to choose from. Several years ago I attended a small fly tying demonstration by Gardiner, Montana angler and guide Walter Wiese. Walter is the head guide for Parks’ Fly Shop and a very innovative fly tier. One of his creations is the Prom Queen Salmon Fly. He tied it that day and I really liked how the pattern went together so I tied a few for myself. When I finally got to fish it a few years back on the Gardner and Yellowstone Rivers during a salmon fly hatch, it proved very productive and easy to fish.

Simple materials

Simple materials

Walter describes the fly as “Good looking, popular and easier than you think”, thus he named it the “Prom Queen”. Unfortunately it isn’t tied commercially as far as I know and probably the only place you can buy them is in Richard Parks’ fly shop. So if you want some Prom Queens in your fly box next time you chase salmon flies, you’ll probably have to tie them yourself. Very detailed instructions can be found in his book Yellowstone Country Flies-The Fly Patterns of Parks’ Fly Shop (2013), but I’ll layout the basics here. They are tied on any standard 3X or 2X long hook. I used DaiRiki 700 or TMC 200R most of the time. Sizes can range from #4 for large adult salmon flies to #10 for golden stoneflies. The body is composed of twisted (furled) tangerine and dark brown acrylic yarn. The head and thorax are of dark brown 2mm foam. The wing is moose mane (overwing) and pearl flash (underwing). Legs are barred orange or salmon colored centipede legs. I use rusty orange thread while Walter uses black.

Note: entire fly tied at front of hook

Note: entire fly tied at front of hook

The entire fly is tied within the first 1/3 of the hook length. After creating a good thread base you make the body by tightly twisting two 6” strands of yarn (one tangerine, one dark brown) into a rope. When you double the rope back on its self, the yarn is twisted into a furled length of yarn. Without letting go of the furl, bind the furl to the hook with thread until secure. The body should extend about ½ hook length beyond the bend. You can make the twist with your fingers alone, but I find taking the yarn and securing with hackle pliers on each end, placing one set of pliers between my knees while I twist the yarn to be the easiest method. Once the furl is secure, trim off the excess and bind tightly with thread and a little head cement. The whole fly will tend to turn on the hook if you don’t cement it tightly to the hook. Tie in a few strands of pearl flash. Then tie in a small clump of stacked Moose Mane. The wing material should extend the length of the body. Again cement the wraps with head cement. The head and thorax are created with 2mm foam cut into a short strip about 2/3rds the length of the hook and about ¼” wide. Fold the strip across the width at about the 1/3rd point and cut a tiny hole with scissor tips at the fold. Push the foam over the hook eye with the longer section on top. Secure the top section of foam over the wing wraps, then continue securing the bottom section at the same point. Add some indicator foam or yarn on top at this point.  Then add the centipede legs in the normal manner. Once everything is secure, move the thread at the bottom of the fly to the hook eye and wrap and secure as usual. Douse all wraps with head cement.

cline june dance 4The fly can be soaked in floatant to make it ride high in the water or left untreated to ride low or sink at times much like real salmon flies do in rough water. If you downsize the hook and lighten up the colors, the Prom Queen also makes a good Golden Stonefly imitation. The Gardner River, in Yellowstone National Park, where I encounter salmon flies most often in early July is a rough and tumble stream for which this fly is perfectly suited. However, I am confident it would be productive across the west anywhere salmon flies are hatching.

Put some in your fly box.

Rainbow succumbs to Prom Queen

Rainbow succumbs to Prom Queen

Prom Queens, Ready for the Dance

Prom Queens, Ready for the Dance

 

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