This flatwing draws its inspiration from Ken Abrames’ classic streamer, the Crazy Menhaden.
The original pattern calls for eleven saddles. But what if you don’t have all the right colors? Or, what if you have precious few saddles? One solution – the one I’ve chosen here – is to use bucktail instead of saddles to complete the proper color blend that makes this such an attractive fly.
For this version of the Crazy Menhaden I’m using one white, one yellow, and one orange saddle to anchor the center of the fly, add length, and provide the swimming action flatwings are renowned for. (The exception is the biggest fly pictured, which has eight saddles.) The bucktail on the top half of the fly is tied like a Blonde, at the tail end of the shank and near the head. These fibers provide the bulk of the color and content, along with some flashabou accents and long peacock herl. The beige and yellow bucktail throat and sides remain true to the original pattern.
Along with the saddles, the rest of the color palette is bronze, pink, ginger, red, blue, chartreuse, olive, light green, and copper. The largest fly here is 12″ long; the smallest, just a bit over 7″.
I’ve had a lot of success with this fly at night on our rivers here in Connecticut. I like to fish it during the bottom of the tide, on a greased line swing.
You can find the original pattern in Ken’s book, A Perfect Fish, on page 93. When it comes to fly fishing and fly tying, I don’t usually speak in imperatives. But if you’re interested in flatwings and you don’t have this book, you need to get it. It’s the flatwing bible.
Hook: Eagle Claw 253 3/0
Platform: Orange and yellow bucktail, mixed
Support: White neck hackle
Tail: Natural white saddle, under 2 strands copper flash, under a yellow saddle under an orange saddle, under 2 strands red flash, under 30 total hairs ginger, pink and violet bucktail, mixed, under 20 total hairs pink and chartreuse bucktail, mixed, under 2 strands green flash under 20 total hairs blue and red bucktail, mixed.
Body: Bronze braid
Collar: Beige bucktail on bottom, yellow and beige bucktail, mixed, on sides
Wing: 15 hairs orange bucktail under 30 hairs olive bucktail
Topping: Peacock herl
Eyes: Jungle cock
A closer look at the head detail and the color blends: