Friday, October 11, 2013

Tying and Fishing the Max Canyon

Max Canyon
In the early 1970’s I developed this fly for Steelhead fishing on the Deschutes River. We had experienced success with a Skunk fly and the Brad’s Brat developed by Enos Bradner. Using the black color of the Skunk and orange from the Brat I tied a fly that had an orange and white tail, orange and black body and a wing of orange and white. With the addition of gold tinsel around the body and a black front hackle, the Max Canyon came to life. In spite of my friends Dick Hans and Steve Dorn razzing me about the contrasting colors of the new fly, I had high hopes for the new fly’s success. I waded into the water the next morning with anticipation. My leader was rigged up with a Skunk on the point and the new fly on a dropper. As I began to cover the water with hopeful casts, I idly gazed across the canyon at some deer feeding on the hillside.  
Suddenly, my line stopped and I was into a strong fish. It was a heated battle for 7 or 8 minutes but I finally beached a chrome 8 pounder. The Max Canyon was buried in its jaw. I was elated. In the next few hours I hooked six more and landed five, all of them taking the new fly. Switching the position of the two flies made no difference. I was totally gratified with the success of the new pattern. When I returned to camp it was my turn to razz my buddies which immediately prompted a crash course in tying Max Canyons. 

Hook: 36890 Mustad, Sizes 6-2
Thread: 3/0 black monocord, 
Tail: Small mixture of orange and white calftail,
Body: Rear 1/3 orange, front 2/3 black wool,
Rib: Gold or silver oval tinsel, 
Hackle: Black saddle,
Wing: 2/3 white and 1/3 orange calftail. 

Step1.  Tie in the orange and white tail and attach the tinsel. Then, tie in the orange yarn and wrap it forward 1/3 inch. Attach the black yarn.

Step 2.  Wrap the black wool forward 2/3 inch and tie it off. Then spiral the tinsel up 5 to 6 times and tie off.

Step 3. Tie in the black hackle. 

Step 4.  Spiral the hackle forward 3 to 4 times and slightly wrap back over it to form a 45˚ angle. 

Step 5.  Arrange the orange and white calftail so that the orange is 1/3 on top and the white is 2/3 below. Secure them tightly and finish with a neatly tapered head and tie off. 


  1. The Macks Canyon has worked great over the years for my fishing team. The Stewart is actually my favorite of the Macks Canyon series. Originated by Marty Sherman, this pattern as been a great fly on the swing. Tied sparsely on a small hook has produced great results.

    Keep the new posts coming. Lots of great tips on the site.

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