Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Herniator (Modified)

It is rare when one can meet the inventor of a a fly that has become a standard for an area. I had that opportunity today when I walked in to the Eureka Fly shop and met Tim Paxton, the inventor of the Herniator fly. The Herniator is a must-have fly for the Klamath River, especially when seeking Steelhead. The Herniator, as I've been told, is great for slow water due to the soft hackle and wing that will move gently in the water. Fast water evidently pushes the hackle and wing into the body.

Tim told me that the commercial versions of his fly will work, but he added an underwing of peacock. He stated that the peacock underwing supports the outer wing while also pulsating in the water to add another level, sound, to the equation of getting a steelhead to strike the fly.

I decided to design a "fast water" version of the Herniator. The three changes I made were: 1) a cone head held perpendicular to the hook with wraps of lead; 2) Tim's original underwing of peacock herl; and 3) grizzly hackle instead partridge. My hope is that: 1) the cone head will get the fly into the correct depth in faster water; 2) the peacock underwing will keep the outer wing off the hook; and 3) the somewhat stiffer and shorter grizzly hackle will act similar to the hackles of other famous steelhead patterns like the Moss Back and Brindle Bug. I will find out tomorrow when I head back up to the Klamath to try to hook some half pounders.

The fly on the left in the picture above is the standard commercial tie of the herniator: 2x hook, silver bead head, peacock metallic ribbon, peacock herl, peacock flashabou, and partridge hackle. As stated above, this tie is for slower water to allow the partridge to pulsate through the drift of the fly.

The fly on the right is my attempt at a fast water version of the Herniator: a 2x hook, silver cone head stabilized with lead wraps, peacock metallic ribbon, peacock herl tied in at the tips, then tied on top to create the underwing made from the stiffer sections of the herl, peacock flashabou, and grizzly hackle tied in the wet fly form.

So, tomorrow, I put the fly to the test. Hopefully a slug of halfpounders will have moved into Blake's Riffle by tomorrow morning. I would love the chance to test the fast water version of the Herniator in addition to my chamois worm fly.

As a final thought, there must be something about highway 299, a road that travels from Eureka to Redding. Tim Paxton of Eureka invented the Herniator in addition to several other patterns and Mike Mercer from Redding has invented many patterns that are the essential standards for the Trinity River (which follows 299) and all types of water found in the West (and I'm sure they will work all around the world).

Tight Lines All

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