Sofa Pillow – Pat Barnes


Sofa Pillow

The Sofa Pillow is a classic dry fly pattern originated by Pat Barnes back in the 1940s. In the words of Pat, here’s how it started.

“When a party of Amarillo bass flyfishermen came up West to fish on the Snake, they couldn’t see the small flies. They came into the shop and asked for a pattern they could see, a BIG salmonfly imitation. So when I tied this up, one of the Texans said, “My God, it’s as big as a sofa pillow!” I said, “You’ve just named it.”

Sofa Pillow recipe:

Hook: Mustad 9672, or equivalent, size 4-10
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail: Dyed red goose quill section
Body: Red floss
Wing: Red or gray squirrel tail
Hackle: brown saddle hackle


Variations of the Sofa Pillow followed. You might have seen or heard about the Improved Sofa Pillow. Pat and Sig had called this a Super Sofa Pillow and it enhanced the floatability of the original. Here is an excerpt from Pat’s book, Ribbons of Blue:

“The popularity of the fly increased each year. It was fished during the grasshopper season, and successfully. Soon it was being tied commercially by all tiers in the West Yellowstone area.

It is now tied as large as size 2. The original fly had a red tag, red wool body, red fox squirrel wing and brown saddle hackle. Many variations are now used, in body color, body material, wing material and color of hackle. The changes Sig and I have added to the fly in recent years are the addition of a Palmer brown hackle on the body and elk hair under the squirrel hair.

It is doubtful if any dry fly in recent times has been used as successfully for catching big fish in rough water.”

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