Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Rusty Rat Salmon Fly

The rat style salmon fly has been documented at least as far back as 1911. That makes it one of the earliest hair-wing salmon flies in either Europe or the Americas.

Most people I know have at least one in their fly box. However, here is the thing; I have never had a salmon go for a Rusty Rat. I have never even seen anyone but me actually tie one on and fish it.

So, here is my theory:

Since fly-fishermen in general and salmon fishermen particularly are a gentlemanly lot rather than be rude to a newcomer who asks what he hooked his fish on, your average salmon angler will smile warmly and reply, “A Rusty Rat” - all the while, palming the Blue Charm dangling from his hook keeper. After fishing over salmon for hours and finally finding a fly that works your average person is not going to part with such hard earned knowledge so easily.

We all fall for it until we are seasoned enough not to just blurt out the question. Everyone knows that you have to admire the fish, the angler’s pedigree and of course, his mastery of technique before getting around to what the fish actually took.

That it takes a while to learn these subtleties of the art explains why we all have one or two Rusty Rats in our vest pockets.

I could be wrong.
The Rusty Rat might be the greatest salmon temptress ever invented. I do have to wonder though how it is possible that on every salmon stream I have ever fished, from the beautiful Medway to Labrador’s mighty Pinware, if the fishing is slow and someone finally connects after the hundredth fly change, if someone hollers down the pool, ”Hey, what did you get him on?”
“A Rusty Rat” is what comes echoing back.

Rusty Rat photo from this site:



Anonymous Brad "Fishhawk" said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1 March 2008 at 19:39  
Anonymous Brad "Fishhawk" said...

I have read that the "Rusty rat" was a mistake created when a fly fisherman handed a well worn and used fly to a friend and asked him to make a few new ones. The freind copied them as they appeared....rusty color and all.

I would guess if you tie them with a bright yellow color they would work......I have heard of one fisherman who could catch a salmon on anything tied yellow.....legend has it that he could catch a salmon with a hook and a banana peel!

1 March 2008 at 19:41  
Blogger Steve Dobson said...

I would not be surprised if you were right about that one Brad. On the Fall River, we both enjoy so much "anything yellow" is the recommended pattern for the big ones in the later part of the run.
Banana peel sounds like a good name for a Cardinal pattern tied with more yellow than red. Bet it would be a killer.
By the way, I think it was my brother Warren who first pulled the Rusty Rat gag on me. I could be wrong but I bet he would remember.


1 March 2008 at 19:54  

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