A Trio of Long Tails From Schaadt - Dean Endress
I've been pitching flies to Steelhead & Salmon since 1980 along California's northwest coast, not every season, but enough to have learned of the almost mythical figure of BILL SCHAADT (1922 - 1993). River side meetings and correspondence with a handful of anglers first brought my attention to Bill's legend and accomplishments, and I was intrigued with what I learned. ...And why not??? How could a young fly fisher not be impressed with learning of Schaadt’s one season tally of 800 plus Steelhead from the Russian River alone???!!!????
I decided, as my knowledge of Schaadt grew, that it would probably be a good idea to tie and fish patterns he used. I found that Schaadt carried a rather small number of patterns with him while fishing the various coastal rivers thru out the fall and winter, just switching sizes as the conditions dictated.
The first patterns Schaadt fished, the FALL FAVORITE OPTIC and the GOLD COMET started in the mid 40s. The Fall Favorite Optic was introduced by Lloyd Silvius of Eureka, CA. and was merely his adaptation of his Standard Fall Favorite tied in the Optic style made popular by C. Jim Pray, also of Eureka. The Gold Comet seems to have come about in the late 1940's, designed for the Russian River, Schaadt’s home water. Schaadt mentions being in on the Comet "from the Ground Floor", quickly adding it to his selection when it began tallying good catches.... A while later, Grant King refined Virgil Sullivan's BOSS pattern into the version one sees nowadays, and Schaadt fished the Boss as well.
Depending on whom you talk with or where you read from, the EGG SAC is credited to either Grant King or Bill Schaadt. I do not know one way or the other (I like to think it is Schaadt’s design). The Egg Sac is probably one of the First Steelhead/Salmon patterns to feature the ball of chenille to suggest an egg on it. I like to fish the all black version, as it is often effective on pressured Fish. The various dressings of the Egg Sac can be found in the pattern dictionary on this site.
Probably the One pattern that is most associated with Schaadt is his GOLDEN GOOSE. Almost any book dealing with Steelhead and Salmon flies which mentions Schaadt, will feature the Golden Goose. Tied in the "Long Tail" style of the Comets and Boss patterns, the Golden Goose mixes features of both patterns, but it holds its own nicely. I've read some dressings for the Golden Goose calling for natural brown bucktail, however the first dressing I was given for it called for black bucktail, so that is what I stay with....
Hook : TMC 700, TMC 7999, Daiichi 2451 or similar style. #1/0 thru #10
Thread: Red Ultra Thread, Sized to hook.
Tail: Black Bucktail, Squirrel or Calf tail, at least 1 1/2 times the hook shank length
Body: Oval gold tinsel, size to match hooks size. Can use Sparkle or Diamond braid as well. 1st wrap is placed under tail to cock it up on an angle.
Hackle: Red and Yellow, 3 turns each, blended.
Eyes: Gold Bead Chain, sized to hook.
The two other patterns of this article are very much unknown nowadays. To my knowledge neither has been mentioned in any books. I was introduced to both patterns by Mr. John Hall of Richmond, CA. in the mid 1980s. John stated first learning of these two Schaadt patterns back in the 1960s.
Hook: Same suggested types as the Golden Goose, #4 thru #10
Thread: Black Ultra Thread
Tail: Black Calf tail or Squirrel, at least 11/2 times the hook shank Length
Body: Orange Chenille
Hackle: Black, 4 to 5 turns.
While I have never added bead chain eyes to this fly, nickel bead chain can be, if desired. This might be the "Orange Fly" sometimes mentioned regarding Schaadt.
Hook: Same as above, #4 thru #12
Thread: Black Ultra Thread
Tail: Black Calf or Squirrel tail, 1 ˝ times the hook shank length
Rib: Oval Silver Tinsel, sized to Hook
Body: Orange Chenille
Hackle: Grizzly, 4 -5 turns
What a Catchy name for an effective pattern!!!!
Comet/Boss Style Flies remain a viable option for Steelhead and Pacific Salmon. They lack a wing and tend to sink faster and swim deeper because of it. This is an obvious advantage when plying the deeper pools for salmon. The optional bead chain eyes will often flip the pattern over, so the hook point is riding up, making the fly snag less often. The tails should always be at least 1 1/2 times the hook shank length. Some anglers tie the tails up to three times the hook shank length, me included, at times.
For the hackles I prefer Chinese Rooster necks. Wapsi offers a great selection of colors in two grades. Tie hackles in by the tips and tightly wrap forward. When wrapping two different colored hackles (as in the Golden Goose) leave a bit of space between each wrap of the first hackle, so the second hackle will be snug to the Thread base. I always put a thin coat of Aqua Flex on the thread base to secure the hackles in place. I like to finish the thread head with a coat of Loon's Hard Head Clear, to give the fly that classic shiny finish.
Bill Schaadt was one of the founding fathers of Steelhead and Pacific Salmon fly fishing, and certainly the all-time record holder for the most caught of each species on the fly. He did some outrageous antics in his time, but his love and enjoyment of the sport improved and paved the road for all later anglers. His patterns proved effective for him, they'll prove effective for you as well.
Dean Endress has been fly-fishing and fly tying for over 30 years and was a professional fly tyer and teacher for over 23. He is a member of the Solitude Fly Company Pro Team, a product consultant for Dr. Slick, and does a great deal of saltwater fly fishing. He has exhibited in many fly tying and fishing shows and is frequently found in many fly tying forums lending his advice and opinions. Dean is known throughout the fly tying and fly fishing community as Flyjunkie - his signature line and nickname. He is the originator of the RAZZLER salt water pattern and the ROBO P.T. Trout pattern amongst others. Now you can find many more of Dean's flies and anecdotes on his blog, Flyjunkie's Flyfishing.
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