The “Milk Gravy” pattern is intended to imitate the emerging life form of a sedge or caddisfly, of which there are more than 200 species that occur in Florida waters. The pattern is also imitates various local species of Diptera and mayflies when they emerge. This is a simple pattern to tie, as each fly is tied with one bobwhite quail feather. I first designed and tied this pattern from feathers of birds I shot on Pleasant Hill Plantation near Spring Island, South Carolina. The hunts were traditional Old South Plantation style where each day of hunting was interrupted with a lunch of fried chicken and all trimmings. Most memorable, though, was the personal serving of milk gravy the Huntmaster’s wife made for me each visit from the chicken drippings. Thus the name I gave the pattern, “Milk Gravy.” I typically apply a little floatant to the top hackles and fish the pattern on and in the surface. It is a very good pattern for taking bream in the Tallahassee area when sedges, Diptera and mayflies are emerging; as well as, trout in the Sierras and Rocky Mountains.
Hook: Daiichi 1550, Size 14
Thread: Black Danville 6/0 or Gudebrod 8/0
Tail: Three Barbs from Bobwhite Quail Breast Feather
Body: Webbing Trimmed from Each Side of Bobwhite Quail Feather Shaft
Hackle: Bobwhite Quail Breast Feather
Thread: Black Thread and Cement of Choice.
Tie the Milk Gravy as Follows:
1. Bend the barb down as hook is placed in the vise and start the thread with a jam knot behind the hook eye. Wrap the thread to hook bend and leave the thread hanging at bend, between hook barb and point. Thread should be counter spun to flatten and wrapped in side-by-side or touching turns to maintain a flat thread base.
2. Select a breast feather of size to match hook size. Clip with scissors all webbing from each side of feather shaft outward to first barbs without web and set aside to use for dubbing. Remove three barbs for tail. Tie the three barbs in on top of hook shank as tail. Return thread to tie in point of tail and rear of body, make one thread wrap behind and under tail to hold up and finish with one wrap in front of tail at tie-in point.
3. Wax the thread, apply the webbing material to the thread and dub body/abdomen on approximately ¾ of shank forward of the tie-in point of tail to ¼ of shank behind hook eye.
4. Prepare quail feather to tie in by tip, leaving sufficient barbs for 3-4 hackle wraps. Tie in feather by tip on underside of shank in front of dubbed body with top facing forward. Wrap thread to hook eye and back three thread wraps and leave hanging at rear of head. Wrap hackle forward in touching wraps and tie off shaft under hook shank. Wrap to hook eye and back to front tie in point of hackle and rear of head. Hold thread up and snap remaining feather shaft towards hook point to remove excess. Shaft will break at thread, leaving no butt to cover. Whip finish head from rear to hook eye and seal with cement of choice.
John Collins tied up this beautiful Sulphur Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle and it grabbed my attention. I chatted with John about this fly a bit. Here are some interesting features about this fly that John mentioned.
*The Partridge is a custom dye from a friend of John’s.
*The Tail is a Teeny Nymph dyed Pheasant Tail from Jim Teeny Inc.
*It’s difficult to find this bright of yellow pheasant tail. You can find yellow, but it isn’t nearly as bright. What John uses here is from Jim Teeny. You may be able to find them on their website http://www.jimteeny.com, but John thinks they might be discontinued.
So if they are and you want to achieve this yellow, John said you would need a buff pheasant tail which are basically tannish to white pheasant tail, without the barring, and dye it yourself.
John says, “This one should definitely get things stirred up, when the time is right.”
From Devin Olsen:
“This is one my favorite soft hackle hare’s ear variations. It was featured as one of my confidence flies in our instructional film Modern Nymphing. It’s a variation on the tungsten carotene jig designed by my former Fly Fishing Team USA Teammate Mike Sexton, which is available from Umpqua Feather Merchants. I’ve added CDC soft hackle to the pattern to make it more mobile. It is an excellent searching pattern and fishes well whenever caddis are hatching.”
Hook: Hazard HH3, Hanak 230, or your favorite nymph or jig hook in sizes 10-16
Bead: Tactical Fly Fisher slotted gold, copper, or silver tungsten bead matched to hook size
Weight: 0.015″ or 0.020″ lead wire
Thread: 16/0 Veevus in dark tan or brown
Tail: Dark speckled corzuno coq de leon or a color of your choice
Rib: Fl. orange or fl. fire orange Veevus Power Thread
Abdomen: Hareline Dubbin Hare’s ear
Hackle: Nature’s Spirit CDC gray olive or color of choice
Thorax: Hareline Ice Dub uv brown
NOTE: I’m confessing to becoming a Willy Self fan. Willy is a guide in Montana and runs Willy’s Trout World. I watch a lot of fly tying videos and I love it when The Weekly Fly has Willy Self tying one of his flies. He comes up with some quick ties and great flies!
Hook : Size 16 #075 Dai-riki
Thread : Black 70 denier fly master plus
Tail : Pearl Krystal flash
Body : Thread
Rib : Small Silver Wire
Thorax : Black dubbing
Hackle : Black soft hackle
Over Wing : Krinkle Mirror Flash
Head : Thread
From Kast Gear, “The CDC Tickler is a great attractor nymph that the fish can’t seem to get enough of. We have fished it all of the country with a ton of success. This is one of those patterns you need in your fly box!”
I’ve recently released FrankenDub and I’m starting to see several fly tiers put together some really cool flies using it. I’ve thrown in a couple of my photos too. If you are interested in the newest in dubbing, check out the FrankenDub page for more details. Thank you for reading!
Phil says, “Traditional patterns are not often seen in today’s fly boxes with new designs and materials seeming to take their place. The Carey Special is one pattern design I always have with me. Its suggestive nature and animated hackle have proved its worth on more than one occasion. I recommend always having a few size and color variations on hand.”