The (Super-Sized) Magog Smelt Flatwing

It would be pretty fair to say that I’ve got a jones for the Magog Smelt. The Magog Smelt is a classic landlocked salmon streamer that originated in Maine. It sports a striking color palette: white, yellow, and purple bucktail. Silver flash accents. Flowing red marabou, offset with barred teal flank and iridescent peacock herl.

Up until a few years ago, I’d never heard of the Magog Smelt. Then one day I was having a conversation with Ken Abrames about old time striper flies, and he told me the Magog Smelt was his father’s favorite fly for Rhode Island bass. So I looked up the pattern and tied a version based on the Ray’s Fly design. The first time I fished that that fly was at night in a breachway, and when I caught a striper on it, I could almost picture Ken’s dad standing on the shore, nodding in approval.

I started playing around with the color scheme of the Magog Smelt in different formats, from soft-hackle to single feather flatwing. They all worked in the salt. Then I got ambitious and tied up a 10” long, nine-feather flatwing. A substantial morsel to tempt the stripers when the big bait is in. Bold. Daring. More of a caricature of a herring than a formal portrait.

And here it is.

The Super-Sized Magog Smelt

Hook: Eagle Claw 253 3/0
Thread: Black
Platform: White bucktail
Support: White neck hackle
Tail: 3 white saddles, under 2 strands pearl flash, under one yellow saddle, under 2 strands pearl flash, under 2 yellow saddles, under 2 strands silver flash, under one lavender saddle under 2 strands silver flash, under one lavender saddle under 2 strands red flash, under one lavender saddle under 2 strands purple flash.
Body: Silver braid
Collar: a 2/3 veil of long white bucktail one hair thick
Throat: Full tip of red marabou
Wing: 30 strands purple bucktail
Topping: 7 long peacock herl strands
Cheek: Teal flank feather tip
Eyes: Jungle cock

A closer look at a fly that fishes big, casts small.

Tying notes: Since I didn’t have the darker purple the original calls for, I used lavender saddles and some deep purple bucktail in the wing. There’s something magical about the effect created by placing the jungle cock over the teal flank cheeks. This fly is tied Razzle-Dazzle style with the flash about an inch longer than the saddles.

You can see the stiff, white neck hackle I’m using for a support along the arm of the vise. A properly constructed big flatwing like this will not be prone to fouling.

5 comments on “The (Super-Sized) Magog Smelt Flatwing

  1. Kelly L says:

    I am glad to see you put one of these beauties on your site. This is one of my all time favorite flies. LOVE IT. The colors are incredible. This fly is outstanding in every way.

  2. mike says:

    If I dyed some metz cream micro saddles would they work as a substitute for the no longer available flat wing hackle?

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Mike,

      I’d need to see them — they sound like they may be a little on the small side given the word “micro.” I have used Metz #2 saddles in the past as a good substitute for flatwing hackles. You want tapered feathers with lots of web. Hope that helps,

      Steve Culton

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