Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why fish wired flies?

The slight tug told me there was a fish in the emerald depths, but the abrupt slack left me burning for a better setup. I was around 14 at the time, and just as enthused about steelhead as I am today, but the fish came way harder back then then they do now. Just the gear alone made a day on the river exhausting to a 120lb 14 year old. Spending the day throwing a honey yellow 9wt Lamiglas was enough to tear off anyone’s arm, but add some mono and lead core and your just asking for trouble. Standing in the river was just as bad in those days--I could never afford the fancy new neoprene waders so I was stuck with the good ole heat sapping latex Sealdri's. To lose a steelhead back then proved to be far more disappointing than today to say the least. We never caught many, so to lose one meant weeks’ worth of work, and more than 1000 cast. I almost gave the sport up completely until a good friend of mine introduced me to a book titled Dry Line Steelhead and Other Subjects written by Bill McMillan. This book was a revelation for me, and my buddy Jim Newton, as we were looking for any way to stop throwing the old chuck and duck. It just made sense to use a floating line, long leader, and heavy fly, but the hooks we relied on to plunge feathered offering through the chilled currents were so thick and dull that hooksets became a major issue; So much so, that I searched for another way.  

The Wired Flies became the answer to my epic fly journey. I could fish a regular wired hook, taking advantages of its sharp needle like point, yet maintain the weight and profile I knew would induce a strike. I tried the whole dubbing and chenille over led wire bit, but I lost the profile I was used to—so back to the drawing board. The search for the Holy Grail of patterns, ended for me when I started making my bodies out of wire. I discovered it by accident. I had run out of lead wire, so I wrapped the biggest copper wire I could find on the hook then decided it looked too good to cover. I almost forgot about the fly until a boat in front of me was saying fish on copper colored hot shots. As luck would have it the wired copper fly I had tied that spring was the only fly I had of that color, so I tied it on halfheartedly, and fished it.  Within a few minutes I was hooked up.

I was only after the weight inducing aspect of the wire, but after using them for years I found wired body flies to have a several qualities that I never banked on.

1.       They allowed me to fish several different depths. With one fly, I could cover the whole run from top to bottom. Half hitch the head and the fly would skate, throw a couple of mends on top of it and it will dead drift the bottom.  Throw less aggressive mends and you can swim it through your favorite mid strata lie.

2.       They are extremely durable, a property that comes in handy when you have hit the mother load, or have been bouncing your offering across the stone ridden steelhead seams.  

3.       With all the wire colors out there you can cover any fishing condition known to man.

The next time you sit down to tie some steelhead patterns, whip out some Uni and give it a try, I bet you ask yourself why you didn’t fish wired flies before.

Great profile with all the weight you need

My wired flies have progressed a long ways from the first copper that hit my box.
Fish are a bit easier to come by nowadays.


  1. Any recommended recipes to try? I would love to try tying a few of these!

    1. Greg, I'll tie some and post them here ...stay tuned

  2. Nice flies friend,yes fly fishing has come a long way,like fishing a #6 or 8 Stellie copper john in black,or purple,or a montana prince same size,tight lines & bent rods.