McClain’s Drake


McClain’s Drake – tied by Paul J. Beel

McClain’s Drake is a Michigan trout fly created by Jerry McClain of Grayling. The body was originally yarn from old World War II army sweaters of which Jerry had boxes full that he bought at a surplus store. But Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Walnut color can now be used. The tip about the yarn came from commercial tyer Jerry Regan of Grayling.

McClain’s Drake Recipe:

Hook – 94831 size 10-12
Tail – Pheasant tail fibers
Body – Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky Walnut
Wing post – 2-4 colored feather tips. Maroon, purple, orange, or green. (I normally use claret or maroon.)
Hackle – Brown and Grizzly

Jerry spoke to me via phone a couple of years ago and told me a few stories. Another well known fly fisherman, Rowley Failing was a good friend and fished with Jerry quite often. Jerry grew up honing his skills on Lake Margrethe and the Manistee River. Later he fished the Au Sable as well. I have written posts about commercial fly tyer Clarence Roberts here on FrankenFly. Clarence was a game warden and Jerry said he was caught in violation by Clarence several times, but the two became good friends.

He talked about being on one fishing trip while using the McClain’s Drake and said he was catching fish quite well. So well that his fly was falling apart and it looked terrible. His buddy asked him if he was going to change to a new one. He said, “Heck no, it’s catching fish, I’m leaving it on!”

Jerry told another story about him having surgery. He said he wanted to go fishing so bad while in the hospital. After surgery that day, they let him go home. Instead, Jerry got in a boat with a friend and went fishing. He said he was out of it because the medicine they had given him. He fell asleep in the boat for a couple hours, but he said he caught one trout that day, so it was a good day and well worth it!

Jerry is known as one of the legends of Michigan fly fishing. In his 90’s now, he still resides in Grayling. The McClain’s Drake is well known in Michigan and is a good bet when there is a dark hatch of any kind.


Filed under Michigan, Trout flies

6 Responses to McClain’s Drake

  1. Eric

    An enjoyable bit of fly fishing history there, Paul.

  2. Gary McClain

    Jerry McClain is my uncle. Few anglers know the Main Stream or South Branch as well as uncle Jerry. He has always held very strong opinions on the management approaches the DNR and others have fostered. In speaking with Jerry recently he expounded on how poorly the water shed has been managed. He told me that in his opinion, he doubted the river could ever be brought to its glory days. By the way, I was made a gift of a good share of Jerry’s sweater supply. I am now continuing to tie McClain’s Drake.

    • Paul Beel

      Hi Gary, I’m very happy you found FrankenFly and found the post about your uncle.
      It’s nice to hear you have some of Jerry’s sweaters, that is quite a gift!! I’m happy to hear you are tying the McClain’s Drake and I would love to see some of yours.

      Thank you!

  3. timothy troester

    what do you do to get a wool bodied fly float? my experience is wool absorbs water, readily.

    • Paul Beel

      Well, you are right wool doesn’t float real well. I use floatant and then do some false casting to help. If you don’t want to stay true to the original pattern, you could come with a custom dubbing that floats better and has the same look. I could do this if you ordered from flies from me as well. Let me if you have any other questions.