Friday, August 14, 2015

Story Behind the Dark Max Canyon Steelhead Fly and How to Tie It.

A closeup picture of the Dark Max Canyon steelhead fly in the jaws of a fly tying vice
Dark Max Canyon Steelhead Fly
The Dark Max Canyon fly had its origin on the Deschutes River because of a chance meeting with an angler who wasn’t catching any Steelhead. I was fishing the west side of the river and having good success. In less than two hours I had landed and released five Steelhead. During that time the angler on the east side wasn’t having any luck, but I could tell that he was a good fly caster and was covering the water very well. When the sun finally danced across the water, I called it quits and rowed back to the other side. 

Interestingly, the lone angler who had been fishing on the other side was waiting for me. His name was Larry Piatt, and after cordial introductions he asked me one, simple question, “What the heck are you doing to hook those fish? I’ve been fishing this river for over a month and haven’t had a strike.” I looked at his outfit, his leader and fly and said, “Larry, you’ve got the right gear and I watched you fishing over there and your technique is fine. Just keep on doing what you’re been doing!” 

For the balance of the summer we began to fish together. He finally started to catch some fish but it wasn't because of what I said. It was because of what I forgot to say which was that sometimes in Steelhead fishing you just have to get lucky. However, my original and seemingly harmless comment haunted him. When we would be talking with other anglers he would say, ”Here I was, watching this guy hook and release five Steelhead in a row, and when I asked for some solid advice, all he said was, “Keep on doing what you're doing.” I figured that meant, keep on getting skunked! 

Sometime later, Larry tied a variation of the Max Canyon fly called the Dark Max Canyon. It’s a darker fly, has a lower profile and is effective in all water types. Here’s the recipe. 

Hook:  Mustad 36890, sizes 4-6.
Thread:  3/0 Black Monocord.
Tip:  Flat gold Mylar tinsel.
Rib:  Medium gold oval tinsel.
Body:  1/3 orange & 2/3 black wool or yarn.
Hackle:  Black Saddle.
Wing:  2/3 black calftail with 1/3 orange calftail on top.

Step 1
Tie in flat gold tinsel at the hook bend and wrap 1/8 inch forward 
above the hook barb. Attach the tinsel and orange yarn.

Step 2
Wrap the yarn up 1/3 inch and attach the black yarn.

Step 3
Wrap the black yarn up 2/3 of the shank, 
spin 5 or 6 turns of gold oval tinsel forward 
and tie off. Attach the black saddle hackle.

Step 4
Wrap the black hackle forward and tie it back to a 45-degree angle

Step 5
Cut a clump of black calftail for the underwing and a smaller amount of orange calftail for the overwing and tie in the wing. Secure them tightly and complete the head.


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