In our January 2018 fly tying article, I mentioned that my fellow fly tying and internet friend, Dale Ruth of Prince George, BC., very kindly sent a Christmas present to me of two more write-ups about his favourite flies. The January article described Dale's Mallard Leech and I said we would show you how to tie another creation, the White Mallard Boatman, in our March 2018 fly tying article! Below is Dale's description, in his own words, of how he ties his White Mallard Boatman. Also, my thanks to Dale for sharing his secrets with all of our readers!
Fall season is the time when Water Boatman activity takes the stage on Shane Lake in Prince George. They usually appear early September and can last upward to 3 weeks provided favorable weather conditions remain steady. In the course of 6 years fishing this lake, I used a black boatman pattern that proved to be quite effective including in other lakes as well. Still, I didn't have a pattern that was a true match to the whitish coloration of the Shane Lake boatman. I tied up a few white bouyant patterns and decided not to draw any markings on the foam, at least not yet - such as eyes, lines and so on. Pumped up with excitement and anticipation, I returned the next day to see if this very simple fly pattern would actually work. Also brought along a few colored felt markers just in case they might be needed. Surprisingly, this plain white floater fly performed with remarkable consistency. I then continued fishing Shane Lake on a regular basis for the duration of it's lively action of water boatman using only this fly.
Crimp the barb. Begin thread wraps on shank at hook eye to the hook point. Do an optional half hitch and cement. Strip the fibers from the stem of each of the 3 natural flank feathers until the tip has a 1/2" or so of feathers remaining, or use a small clump of fibers removed from a larger feather. Place the stem of one feather directly on top of the shank and secure it with 3 semi-tight wraps. Grasp the stem and pull it through the wraps until the tip of the feather extends 1/8" to 3/16" beyond the hook bend - same procedure for the next two feathers. Boatman don't actually have tails but adding one, in my opinion, seems to give the fly a little bit more pazzass and functionality - it may provide better balance ( similar to a kite tail ) while floating, bobbing or when retreiving it on top of or below the water column. Continue wrapping the stems with tight wraps working towards the hook eye. Stop at the half point of the shank length. Lift all three stems and snip them close to shank at a slight angle. Do a few more wraps to cover the cut ends, half hitch. Tie in white rubber legs or other suitable material ( Tip: bungee shock cords have inside elastic strands that are ideally suited for boatman paddles and make excellent legs for other fly patterns as well ). Once the legs ( paddles ) are secured, wrap thread back to the spot where you had stopped to snip the excess stems. Place foamback piece on top of shank ( Tip: pieces cut from old foam fishing floats/bobbers is excellent material for a foamback ), cinch down the foam at this point with several wraps - half hitch and cement. Lift the foam and proceed wrapping forward to the hook eye making sure that great care is taken so as not to entangle or distort the legs with thread wraps as you pass by them. At 1/8" or so from the hook eye cinch the foam down with several wraps to make a head. Tie off, cut and cement. Trim the rear and head of the foam to shape if needed. With felt markers, you can add an array of colors and markings to the white foam and paddles if desired. Can be fished using dry or wet fly line. This fly also makes a great 'ant' pattern too. It has the same shape and segmentation of an ant ( head, abdomen and thorax ) more so than an actual boatman. Simply add six legs during the tying process and use felt markers to color the legs and the foam body to match these terrestrials.
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