Keys Tarpon Fly

Pattern Description:

This fly is not so much an individual pattern as it is a method of tying. This style has become very popular in the Florida Keys and there are a variety of color combinations favored by different anglers and guides. I think the most interesting parts of this style of fly are the foul guard and the small overall size of the fly. An ingenious tail support of bucktail prevents the tails from fouling around the hook point on an errant cast. This can prove invaluable, as it is well known that a tarpon will eat a lot of things, but not a fly with a fouled tail. The small pattern size is a product of increased pressure on the migratory fish that run the gauntlet from the keys north. The small profile doesn’t “splat” when it hits the water and is a bit less intrusive. The soft marabou collar breathes life into the pattern while the light colored face hackle makes the fly a bit more visible to the angler and slows the descent of the fly.

Materials Needed:
Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 #2/0
Thread: Black 3/0
Tail Support: Natural buck or squirrel tail
Tails/Wings: Chinese Grizzly Neck Feathers, two matched sets on each side, opposed.
Collar: Cream and Brown Marabou
Face: Yellow Hen Neck Hackle
Head: Black Thread coated with epoxy

Step 1
Place the hook in the vise and wrap a thread base from the midpoint to the bend. Form a small ball of thread at the bend to help splay the buck tail in the next step.

Step 2
Tie in a sparse clump of buck or squirrel tail at the bend and wrap over it to the base of the thread bump to splay it out like a dry fly tail.

Step 3
Trim the butt ends off at about the midpoint on the shank. This clump will support the hackle feather wings and keep them from fouling around the hook bend.

Step 4
Match four wide, webby grizzly neck feathers for width and length. Match two to a side and lay the groups back to back so they curve AWAY from each other and prepare the butts by stripping their bases of fibers exposing the quill for a length of about an eighth of an inch. Tie the feathers in as a group in front of the thread bump with a couple tight turns of thread.

Step 5
Pull up on the tail feathers as you wrap the thread over the quills to the base of the thread bump. Be sure to keep the feathers perfectly aligned. Return the thread to the point on the hook.

Step 6
Tie in the tip section of a cream marabou feather on top of the shank so it extends to the midpoint of the wing.

Step 7
Clip the butts and tie in another cream marabou feather on the underside of the shank so it matches the length of the first. Let these feathers roll a little bit to completely encompass the shank 360 degrees. Clip the butts of the second feather as well.

Step 8
Tie in the tip of a brown marabou feather in the same fashion on top of the shank. Clip the butt ends flush with the shank. At this point form a smooth thread base for the hackle tie in that follows.

Step 9
Tie in a hen neck feather by its tip at the front of the marabou collar.

Step 10
Clip the tip and wrap the hackle feather three or four turns, combing the fibers back wet fly style as you wrap. Tie the butt of the feather off and clip the excess.

Step 11
Build a smooth tapered thread head over the butts of the hackle feather and whip finish. Apply a coat of thin penetrating head cement then after that dries apply a thin coat of epoxy to the thread wraps. Place the fly on an epoxy wheel to dry.

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