Friday, February 8, 2013

Some Adirondack bucktails and a favorite dry

With snow coming down here in the Northeast , it's a good day to do some tying. Back in the fall I was invited to tie some flies for a book project that a Canadian tier, Damien Lee Welsh, is putting together.  Damien's project is to collect and photograph little known or forgotten trout patterns.  So I've decided to contribute some Adirondack bucktails and favorite Adirondack dry in addition to a couple soft hackles.

The bucktails shown here were tied by a lesser known Adirondack tyer, Ed Bendl.  Ed would often name his creations after Adirondack ponds and lakes.  The fly shown below is a bucktail variation of Ed's 13th Lake streamer.  I believe the original version was a trolling fly.  The streamer gets it's name from Thirteenth Lake, a lake in the middle of Siamese Ponds wilderness known for it's rainbows and landlock salmon.  The orange body with the black deer hair reminds me of a small brook trout.  I can vouch for the ability of this fly to attract Adirondack brook trout.

The 13th Lake Bucktail
mustad 3665 #10 
black thread
golden pheasent crest tips tail
orange floss body
gold tinsel rib
orange bucktail underwing
2 strands of rootbeer crystal flash
black bucktail upper wing

Here's another old Adirondack bucktail, that called the Kelly Bill.  The best information I have is that the fly  was first tied in 1925 by Herb Howard after a conversation with Bill Kelly of the Cranberry Lake region of the Adirondacks.  Again the black and orange color scheme is present.  The older verison of the flies use a fire orange head as shown below.  Personally, I like a black head on this one as it makes the orange wool stand out better.  I am looking forward to trying this one out this season.

The Kelly Bill Bucktail
mustad 3665 #10
orange yarn tail
fire orange thread/ black thread and head
holographic gold tinsel rear body section
orange yarn forward body
holographic gold/silver tinsel rib
black hackle throat
squirrel tail wing

One of my other contributions to the book project is another Fran Better's fly, the Ausable Bomber.  There isn't much written about this fly.  I first heard of this fly from Alan of Small Stream Reflections.  This fly has become one of my all time favorites for fishing small streams for brook trout.  This fly floats extremely well which makes it ideal for fishing the pocket water typical of Adirondack waters.  My other favorite way to fish this fly is above a soft hackled pheasant tail tied off the back of the hook.  This dry/dropper combination is hard to beat.

The Ausable Bomber
2x long dry fly #14 or #12
fire orange thread
woodchuck guard hairs tail
orange possum body
grizzly and brown hackle palmered over the possum dubbing
white calf tail wing


  1. Have you, or Alan, ever tried to tie a bomber with snow shoe hare hair? I'd never thought of it until reading this post... and suddenly thought it may be a nice option for the wing - not that the calf tail is bad... Fran knew what he was doing! Just a thought...

    1. Will - the snowshoe rabbit wing should work you just want to make sure the fly doesn't get too bulky in the front.

  2. Nice work.
    There's a video of Fran tying an Ausable Wulff. And at the end of the video, in the background is a reference to the Bomber.

    Stay safe and warm.

    1. Brk Trt - thanks. I'll check out the video. I have a little something for you the next time our paths cross. Hope you all make it through the storm ok, the winds are really picking up around here now.

  3. Gorgeous Flies! I tied the 13th lake bucktail a couple of years ago and it still one of my favorites.

  4. Mark
    That Ausable Bomber is outstanding. Yes I can see where this fly would not need any floatant, the float would be endless. When I think of streamers I think big, size 10 and 8 would be my choice size. Both these patterns I really like. Thanks for sharing

    1. I would be willing to bet you could catch small stream brook or brown trout anywhere on the bomber.

  5. nice flies Mark the top one is almost identical to the whiskey fly which is gold mylar body ribbed with hot orange/red floss and apart frrom the black wing which is orange.
    that bomber looks ideal for fishing the pockets of a stream.

    1. Col - thanks for your comment, I love learning about old patterns from the past, especially from the English Isle. Fran knew what he was doing when he came up with the bomber. Perfect for the tumbling waters of the Adirondacks but I've caught big browns and rainbows on our local tailwater using this fly too!

  6. These are great ties, Mark. Really like the 13th Lake Bucktail.

  7. Gin Clear - thanks ! I can't vouch for the Kelly Bill yet, but the 13th Lake does take brook trout, I think orange and black a good combination.

  8. Good evening Mark. I follow your blog along with Small Streams and Fishing Through Life. I was wondering if you could tie some flies for me to try down here in Florida for bluegill? I think they would work well, but would like to try some test flies before investing in materials. Let me know how much it would cost. Thank you, James

  9. Mark,

    This is one of my favorite Small Stream Blogs. The AuSable Bomber fly pattern is fantastic. Having found the Dorado Hare's Ear Dry Fly pattern the other day, I thought you would appreciate this fly. I have a URL for you to take a look at this pattern: " ". I would be interested to hear what you think.

    Happy New Year.

    Lorenzo Swanson
    Plainfield, Illinois