Posts Tagged ‘Carey Special


‘Vintage’ Pattern: Carey Special

Carey Special-Fly Pattern-SwittersB

Another ‘vintage’ stillwater (lake) fly pattern…the Carey Special. Peacock Herl body w/ Pheasant Rump feather fibers for tail and same for a wrapped wing material. This is the classic look. The pattern lends itself to substitutions of body material/color and the wing material can be substituted as long as feather fibers extend at least the length of the abdomen. I don’t weight this pattern with a BH or underbody wrap. Size 10, 2xl. I fish this with an Intermediate sink line either hand retrieved or with the lazier troll along presentation.


Fly Fishing: Stillwater Random Thoughts

Green Butt Carey Special SwittersB

~When fishing a lake with an algae bloom, reduce or eliminate the number of knots in the over all leader. They collect scum. A one piece tapered leader or a uniform length of leader are suitable for descending down through the bloom to the feeding trout, just beneath.

~Indications of OCD: spending hours on a calm, still, smooth surfaced lake; sun high; hot, very hot. I have spent countless hours fishing such waters, picking up a small trout here and there. Short of doing recon on the contours, weed growth, identifying the drops, shelves and stumps there is little benefit to spending hour after hour out there. There are other activities back at camp and in the area that may better occupy that dead time on the water. 

~Are the fish refusing my fly? I have changed flies 6 times this past hour. Could it be the presentation/line selection and retrieve are not balanced to the flies or to the location you are fishing? As enjoyable as it is to use, the floating line cannot be your primary line on a lake if you intend to fish the depths. Research clear intermediates and faster sink rate lines for presentations beyond the shallows. Once the fish move off the shallows (sun rising, water calming, hatch ending) the waters just past the drop off should be explored with sinking lines.

~Presentation…the retrieves: it is nice to bob about out on a lake, kicking, rowing or drifting along in a day dreaming daze. Lost in thought and picking up the occasional fish. Again, considering the pattern you are using, what are you imitating and how is your presentation copying the real life movements of that food source: bait fish, leech, vertically ascending Chironomid pupa, emerging Callibaetis, diving egg laying Caddis, swimming Damsel headed for the reeds? If you are satisfied to kick along the edges of the drop then at least vary your retrieves to provoke a take.


Tying the Carey Special (Stillwater Dragon or Caddis Imitation)

This a great stillwater pattern popular in the Pacific NW and B.C. and for all I know beyond. I have never fished it for stream born insects but imagine it could serve well as an October Caddis. The dubbed body can be replaced by a wound body of yarn, chenille or the classic…peacock herl. The hardest part of the fly is winding/wrapping a balanced wing with the ringneck pheasant rump feather. Do not over hackle the pattern…more is not better. In the spirit of not leaving well enough alone…the fly could have a small filoplume tail and be tied on a straight shank hook. Here I tied it on the TMC 200R hook with a straight eye. Many do not like this hook because of lost fish. I have not had the problems with this hook.

“Originally called the “Monkey-faced Louise”, until receiving the name Carey Special. It was aptly named the Carey Special from its originator, Colonel Carey. Doctor Lloyd Day of Kelowna found a groundhog on his fishing trip and asked Colonel Carey to tie a fly from the hairs. Today, it has many colors, and is usually tied with pheasant rump rather than groundhog.

A Carey Special can simulate many insects, including dragonfly nymphs, caddis nymphs, mayfly nymphs, and leeches. The Carey is by far one of the most popular lake fishing patterns in British Columbia. Look in any local angler’s fly box, and it will probably contain a Carey Special. It is an exceptional trolling fly, and a great searching pattern.

The most common way to fish the Carey Special in British Columbia’s lakes, is to troll the fly on or near the bottom with a full sink line. At other times, success can be found while trolling the fly at intermediate depths, or near the surface. Often variations in the retrieve will elicit strikes. Short tugs of about 2 to 3 inches, or long slow pulls of about 8 to 12 inches, followed by a pause should be tried.”  (Sport Fishing BC)


Also, query here for Lake Bait Stillwater Nymph Pattern (8-3-08) for a worthy variation of the Carey Special (this one has the little tuft of marabou/filoplume tail). The Carey Special is suggestive of dragons and damsels and stillwater caddis. It is a productive stillwater pattern and a good basic pattern to practice beginning fly tying skills: ribbing, wrapping a body of yarn, peacock herl or chenille and tying in a feather by the tip and wrapping a wing the length of the body. If you want to take the fly in a different direction then consider a body of red, orange, yellow, chartreuse, purple. Something to note…look at the heads below…chunky. Look at the one above…more streamlined. I found the peacock made for a thicker tie off and I used heavier thread below. By the time I had tied in and wound the wing, I had a pretty thick thread head. I would recommend 8/0 and minimize the thread wraps to lessen buildup. The goal is to secure the materials for a durable fly, but aesthetically the fly can look clunky if a little care is not taken. There are two important points in fly tying: the bend and the eye. The fly can look too thick at the rear or front when care is not taken to securely tie in materials with minimal thread wraps while using a thinner thread (14/0 or 8/0 instead of 6/0 or 3/0.

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