The Deceiver is credited to Lefty Kreh and is an absolute must-have saltwater pattern. This fly can be tied in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors to match different baitfish and even shrimp and crabs. This is another old time pattern that has become a mainstay, and like most of the others, it is a simple pattern to tie and requires nothing fancy in the way of materials. Keep in mind you can keep this fly as simple as you like or dress it up with all the bells and whistles and it will catch fish either way.
Hook: TMC 811S #3/0-8
Thread: White 3/0 Monocord
Tails: White Saddle Hackle
Body: Lagartun Mini Flat Braid, pearl
Collar: White Bucktail topped with contrasting color bucktail of your choice or just plain old all white
Flash: Pearl Krystal Flash
Topping: Peacock Herl from the eyed quill
Eyes: Painted red with black pupil
Place the hook in the vise and wrap a thread base from about two eye lengths back from the hook eye back to the bend of the hook. Wrap the thread forward again to just in front of the hook point.
Select four white saddle feathers that are all about the same size and shape. We want these feathers to be two to three times as long as the hook shank.
Pair up the feathers with two on each side and the two pairs opposed. That is, on each side you should have a pair of feathers matched with the tips even and the inside of one touching the outside of the other. Place each feather pair so the outsides of the feathers face each other so the tail feather pairs are facing apart.
Here’s a top view of the opposed and matched feathers. You can see the configuration here a bit better. Of course, you could also tie this fly with the feathers cupped together where the tail feathers will appear as one piece. Either way is acceptable. I prefer the opposed tails as they add a little more “kick” to the fly on the retrieve.
Strip the butt ends of all four feathers exposing the quill at the base for a length of about a quarter inch. Lay these feathers in on the top of the hook and try to get them to lay four across on the shank. If you press your thumb down on the quills, it will help to line them up. Catch the ends of the quills with the thread and begin making tight wraps back over the bare quills.
Lift up on the base of the feathers as you continue to wrap back over the quills, right up onto the base of the tail feathers. You will begin to wrap over the hackle fibers as you wrap back and this is a good thing. If you tried to tie these in by only the bare stems, it would be very hard to keep them all lined up on the shank. I always try to put one wrap of thread just barely behind the last as I wrap over the elevated butt ends. Wrap over the base of the til feathers all the way back to the bend.
Detail of tail feather tie in.
Side view of tail feathers.
Top view of tail feathers.
Pull a twelve-inch length of Mini Flat Braid off and clip it. Double the flash over to form a loop and tie the two loose ends down to the shank at the front of the thread base. Be sure to leave those two eye lengths worth of bare space at the front.
Wrap both strands of the braid loop back toward the bend in slightly overlapping turns. Wrap all the way back to the base of the tail.
Once you reach the bend with the flash, wrap it forward again, making a double layer body, all the way up to the end of the thread base we laid down earlier. Tie off the flash and clip the excess. You should have a relatively smooth, level body.
Wrap the thread up to the hook eye and back again to the front edge of the body, forming a thread base for the collar to come next.
Cut a sizeable clump of white bucktail hair from the tail. Pull any extra long hairs out of the clump as well as the shorter, finer fibers leaving only the mid-length and diameter fibers. Do NOT stack this hair…we want the tips to be somewhat ragged. Measure this clump of hair against the shank so it extends from the front of the body to about half way up the tail.
Work this clump of hair down around the hook so it encompasses the hook shank. We want the hair pushed down so the hook is in the center of the bunch and the hair is evenly distributed all the way around the shank.
Hold the hair in place with your material hand and place a couple of loose thread turns around the clump. Wiggle your fingertips to even out the hair clump a bit if needed, then tighten up the thread wraps by pulling the bobbin toward you.
The collar ought to look like this now. Make a couple more tight turns of thread to lock everything in place.
Lift the top half of the butt ends of the bucktail up and trim from the front, creating a slight slope.
Pull the other half of the hair down and trim it from the front as well, mirroring the sloped cut from the top. We want these butt ends angled down to the hook eye to eliminate a blocky head later.
Detail of cut butt ends.
Smooth the head out a bit by wrapping from the very back edge of the hook eye up to the base of the collar. Don’t create a lot of bulk here, just smooth things out and cover the ends.
The fly should look a little something like this now, and you could whip finish right here, call it good and go catch fish, but let’s keep going just to dress things up a bit.
Lay in a clump of six or so strands of krystal flash and tie them in at the center of their length on top of the thread head area. I sometimes use several different colors of flash here, as the mix seems to add to the pearlescent-ness of the overall finished fly.
Fold the front ends of the flash back over the top of the fly and secure them in place with a couple turns of thread.
Now cut a small clump of your contrasting color bucktail. Here I have used a mix of colors: Olive, Purple and a tiny bit of Navy Blue. I cleaned the long and short hairs from the clumps, the stacked them together and rolled them in my fingertips to mix them up. These mixed colors contribute to the overall look of the finished fly and add highlights and lowlights to the pattern. Measure this clump of hair against the white bucktail collar so it is the same length.
Tie this second clump of bucktail in as you did the first, but keep it all on the top and perhaps slightly onto the sides of the fly. We do not want this bunch to distribute all the way around the shank.
Trim the butt ends of the bucktail at the same angle (from the front) as you did with the white hair.
Build a smooth thread head as you did before, covering and tapering the butt ends of the hair as shown.
Measure six or seven peacock herls so they reach from the head to the tips of the bucktail collar. Tie these herls in on the top of the fly so they lie flat across the top of the bucktail.
Clip the butt ends of the peacock off flush, then build a smooth thread head to cover the stubs. Whip finish and clip the thread.
Apply a coat of Gloss Coat all the way around the head. Set the fly aside to dry. Make sure to cement the thread head before going on to add the painted eyes. A bare thread head will allow the paint to run down the thread ending in a messy glob. You’ve been warned.
Once the head cement has dried, I use a brass dowel to apply a small drop of red paint on either side of the head. Plain Testors model paint works just fine here. Set the fly aside while this red paint dries. Clearly, it is best to do these steps in bundles rather than one at a time.
I use the other end of the dowel to apply a small drop of black paint for the pupil. The other end of the dowel is ground down to a slightly smaller diameter. You can use nail heads of varying diameter to the same effect.