The winter months with snow falling, is a great time of year. And the squirrels robbing bird feeders and digging holes in the lawn to look for nuts they dug-holes for in the fall to bury but forgot, remind me of another great streamer fly made from something mother nature supplies us with in abundance, the squirrel tail.
This is another pattern introduced to me by my dad who was my teacher
and guide thru most of my life when I was young and still could be
given advice on how to fish..
There squirrel tail is a natural streamer material as you can see from the illustration. The hair when tyed correctly gives a dark brown/black mottled body and the white tips create a beautiful tail automatically.
This time of year, squirrel tails are at their peak, bushy and rich in color. My Dad one year harvested 44 tails which became countless streamers. This was back in the 60's and early 70's. Squirrel tails are still abundant now, and can be acquired any number of creative ways. If hunting season is not open, don't despair. Tails are literally laying on the side of the road, begging to be picked up. A sturdy pair of snipers should always be kept in your car for when squirrel tails are found. Always remember to salt or otherwise preserve your fresh tails, as they can get very pungent if left in the trunk too long.
Once preserved, tails last almost indefinitely unless they get wet .
This streamer fishes best using the method of casting quartering downstream, and as the fly straightened out in the current, stripping it in with a short 4"- 6" pull on the line. The trout seemed to wait for this retrieve to nail the fly, as it tried to swim upstream away from them. Over the years I got better, but could never equal Dad's finesse with a streamer.
This streamer although an old pattern, still has something to show
us in the way trout and other predators see baitfish. Unlike newer
"realistic looking" (to the Fisherman in the tackle shop)
flies, the squirrel tail, like most classic flies, is more of an artists
sketch of a minnow. It looks the same on all sides which makes it
look real from all angles to the fish. Watch a streamer in the river
as it floats, spins, sinks, and you can see what I mean. Only real
minnows and baby fish look real all the time. These "old Style"
Flies look real for more of their time on stream than most new style
flies. Try to catch, study and release these baby fish with a small
net as the opportunity arises, when you are on the
Hook: Mustad 9575 #4-12
Dedicated to my Dad.