Invicta Flies - Spring Blue
You just don't see many blue trout patterns. This one, however, is a great early season producer. We could theorize as to why it is so effective, particularly in the early spring when life is again awakening after the cold stillness of winter. Perhaps the colors are somewhat suggestive of the early mayflies like the Quill Gordon or Blue Quill. Maybe the action of the fly darting along the stream bed resembles that of colorful daces and other small forage fish, irresistible to hungry spring trout. Then again, maybe they just like the color. Whatever the case, the Spring Blue is a top worker. Often this is one of the only patterns early spring trout will take, and then, with wild abandon. Fish it dead drift (with or without weight), on the swing, or strip it in very short bursts, varying the speed (particularly effective when cast upstream, as of an emerger darting to the surface as it's carried on the current)... all are effective.
Hook: standard wet fly hook, like the Mustad 3906, #12-16
Thread: Danville's Prewaxed 6/0, black
Tail: three fibers of wood duck flank
Ribbing: fine silver tinsel or a strand of silver Flashabou
Body: bright blue floss
Collar: light dun hen
Wing: dark mallard wing quill segments
Head: tying thread & Loon's Hard Head, black (optional)
1) Secure the tying thread to the shank just behind the eye and wind it back to the bend in smooth, touching wraps. Many tying threads can be "unwound" allowing for a flatter wrap and thinner bodies. To accomplish this, let the bobbin hang and stop it from swing or turning in any way. Let go and observe. If using a thread like Danville's Prewaxed, the bobbin will start to spin slowly counterclockwise... it is unraveling. Once you've determined which direction the bobbin must spin to flatten the thread, you can help it along by spinning the bobbin yourself and running a finger along the thread from the fly downward toward the bobbin. Or you can let the bobbin do the work, but it takes a few minutes for it stop spinning on its own. The point to all this is for the floss body. It will produce less build up and create a very smooth foundation on which to lay the floss. This is also useful for tinsel bodies.
2) At the bend, lash three fibers clipped from a wood duck flank feather. A substitute can be used, as long as the markings are quite distinct. We want the tail fibers to flare a little and separate. There are a number of ways to do this, one being to straddle the shank with the fibers when making the initial tie-in wraps, and making this first turn almost to the breaking point of the thread, which will flare the fibers slightly. Another is to tie in the fibers, then lift them and bring the thread under, but over the shank. Pull the thread forward tight against the fibers, forcing them upwards and out. You can also bring the thread between each fiber to separate them, but this often produces unwanted bulk at the bend. Lash the butt ends of the tail fibers along the top of the shank up to about one hook eye width behind the eye. Again, use smooth, flat wraps of the thread. Clip the excess.
3) Lash the tinsel to the far side (best) or top of the shank... the excess will extend out beyond the bend to be wound later. Make smooth wraps all the way to the bend, then forward again to one hook eye width behind the eye.
4) Cut a section of blue floss about four inches long. Tie one end onto the side of the shank with three tight turns of thread. Make one wrap rearward with the floss, then gently stroke the rest so the fibers realign and the thread takes on a flatter shape. Continue in this manner to the bend, making smooth, touching wraps, then forward again to the tie-in point. Hold the floss in place, unwind the tying thread for two turns, then tie-off the floss with three tight turns of thread. Clip the excess.
5) Tightly wind the tinsel ribbing forward in open spirals to the thread. About four turns should do it. Tie off and clip the excess. NOTE: if you wish to make the fragile floss and tinsel body more durable, you can coat it with a thin layer of lacquer or epoxy.
5) From a light blue dun hen neck, select a feather with fibers not quite as long as the hook shank. Stroke the feather from tip to butt so the fibers stand out straight from the stem. With the feather facing you, carefully strip the fibers off the left side. Tie the feather in by tip on the near side of the hook with three tight turns of thread. Take one full turn with the feather, tie off tightly, and clip the excess.
6) To tie in the wings, I like to use A.K. Best's method which I call the "Push-Pull Method." From a matching pair of dark mallard wing quills, clip a section from the same area of the feathers, about 3/4 as wide as the hook gap. Place these back-to-back, align the tips, and hold in your left hand, your thumbnail marking the length (I like the wings to reach almost to the outside bend of the hook. Add about a hook eye width to this, and mark the place with your thumbnail). Bring the tying thread directly in front of the hackle. Now for the method... Hold the wings on top of the shank, close to it but not touching. Bring the tying thread up and slide it between your thumb and the wings on the near side, pinch to hold, then loosely bring it over the top and slide it between your finger and the wings on the far side. Pinch to hold in place. Pull the tying thread gently so the loop around the wing tightens up just enough that the thread is touching the feathers. Now at the same time, pull down on the tying thread and push down on the wings. Keep hold of the wings and take four more turns of thread in front of the first. Check the wings for proper position. If all is well, clip the excess close.
7) Build up a smooth, rounded head with the tying thread. I like to use Loon's Hard Head in black on this pattern for a "classier" look, and if you do this, simply wrap over any exposed clipped ends from the wings, then whip finish and clip the thread. Apply a small drop of the Hard Head to the top of the head area and work this all the way around the head, taking care not to "push" it into the hackle on onto the wings.