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Pattern Index

Half 'n' Half

by Capt. John McMurray

There are hundreds and hundreds of different saltwater patterns these days. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming for those just getting into the game. Each pattern is designed to imitate a certain species of bait, and each is created to work under certain conditions. Some do a good job, and of course, some don't. A lot of these patterns are very attractive. They're beautifully colored, they sparkle, they flash, some even seem to say Eat me to the fish through some sort of subconscious hypnotic voice. But there's a common saying among seasoned fly rodders -- "A few flies catch fish, the rest catch fishermen." Nothing can be more true.

While there are thousands of flies that work under certain conditions and certain situations, there are two flies that seem to work under most and maybe even all conditions if tweaked here and there to fit the bait profile. They are Lefty Kreh's Lefty's Deceiver and Bob Clouser's Clouser Minnow. Probably the best single patters ever devised, they've been proven effective for many different species of fish, both fresh and salt, time and time again. I've found that if you combine them both, you have probably the most effective general pattern out there. We call them Half-n-Halves. You will have to adjust the fly for size and color, depending upon what species you target, what kind of bait is around, and what time of day you're fishing. But hands down, I'd have to say, they're the most versatile fly around.

Not only is this pattern my single favorite fly, but it's darn easy, and not at all time consuming to tie.



Step 1:

For a medium-size fly to imitate medium-size bait, start with a 2/0 stainless steel hook. Wrap a lump of thread a little less then halfway down the hook. Go up on the shank about a millimeter and wrap another lump. This will be your foundation for the dumbbell eyes.

The eyeballs come in many different sizes and styles. I prefer to use the pre-painted brass or chrome dumbbells. Three-sixteenths of an inch is a good size for general use, however, go up to one-quarter of an inch if you are planning on fishing the fly deep.

In the same respect, go down to the 5/32 inch if you plan to fish shallow.

Place your dumbbell eyeballs between the lumps of thread and tie them in by wrapping a Figure-8 pattern. Wrap until you feel that the eyes are secure, and then tighten everything by wrapping in circles directly under the eyes. A drop of head cement, or Zap-A-Gap glue on the thread is recommended.

Step 2:

Next, pick out two white saddle hackles. Cut them to a length of about 4 inches. Again, length depends on what kind of fish you're targeting and what type of bait you're imitating.

Tie in one feather on each side, directly behind the eyes. Splay them so they lay outwards from the hook shank. This might look a little awkward, but it creates a lot of action in the water. The splayed feathers undulate when you strip the fly. If you're looking for a larger profile, double-up on the feathers


Step 3:

After you have secured the feathers to the hook shank, add a pinch of flash between the two feathers. There are hundreds of brands of flash out there, each with its own qualities. My favorite is pearl Flashabou because it reflects purple and pink, some of the same colors you'll see in baitfish.

Step 4:

Take a 1.5-inch pinch of chartreuse bucktail or yak hair and tie it in front of the Flashabou, making sure it disperses evenly over the hook shank. I started out tying this fly with bucktail, however, yak hair has much more fishable qualities. It's flexible, allows more of a bulky profile with less material, and doesn't hold water, which is important when casting.

Step 5:

Turn the fly over in your vice and tie in a sparse 1-inch pinch of yak hair or bucktail on the underside of the hook shank behind the eyes. A small pinch of flash over the hair is also recommended.

Step 6:

In front of the eyes, toward the eye of the hook, tie in another 1-inch pinch of bucktail or yak hair. If you prefer to give the fly a bit more allure, try using polar flash. It has the same characteristics as yak hair, but is inundated with flash. Turn the fly over and do the same underneath. It's important to make sure that the material is evenly distributed over the shank of the hook. It's also a good idea to tie in a 1/4-inch piece of sparse pinched red yak hair directly under the eyes for that wounded baitfish effect.

Secure with several wraps of the thread and trim bitter end of the material with a pair of good snips. Cover completely with thread all they way up to the eye of the hook. Secure with a good head cement.

Step 7:

Last, but not least, snip away stray and excess hairs and trim to desired size.

The result is a weighted fly that acts like a jig when stripped at the proper speed. The feathers create an undulating motion that looks very appetizing to any predator. The yak hair or bucktail creates a nice baitfish profile that most fish find appealing. The flash is sure to get any big predator's attention.

Be creative with this pattern. Try different amounts of materials, try different colors, and different color combinations.

I prefer to tie this pattern in solid black if I plan on using it at night. For low-light conditions, such as dawn or daybreak, I'll tie it in solid yellow. During the day I've found the most productive color to be a white and chartreuse combination. If it's overcast, I'll switch to solid chartreuse. Likewise, if it's sunny out, and the water appears to be relatively clear, I prefer to use solid white. If I'm targeting weakfish, I'll tie the fly in solid pink or bubble gum. I'm not entirely sure why, but this color outfishes any another, especially in the spring.



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