The Proppen – Tied by Barry Ord Clarke
Taking the wrong fly box with you on a fishing trip normally ends in a fiasco! For Me it was a short cut to success, and the popular sea trout pattern ‘Proppen’ was born.
About ten years ago, after a long hard winter, waiting for the salt water ice to break up and drift out to sea to make the first trip of the season, for salt water sea trout fishing in Norway. After one and a half hours drive I quickly put up my rod and threw on the waders and made my way down to a shallow bay that lay mirror calm in the spring sun. It was then that I discovered I had taken the wrong fly box! Sod it! The blue Wheatley box, identical to my sea trout box was full with small salmon pattern from my last trip to Iceland! And totally void of anything that resembled a streamer or a rag worm. After driving a little over 100 km I had to use what was at hand, and my choice fell on a red frances tied on a size 16 gold treble hook. The first fish I landed after a couple of casts and the rest of the day it produced a dozen in all.
And the success continued throughout the season.
Regarding fly design, there are many patterns that are ‘variants’ of earlier patterns but they are given new names. As with the Frances, for me there is no doubt what so ever that the design for it was strongly influenced by another Icelandic pattern ‘Krafla’ with its cone shaped body and multiple stripped hackle feelers, tied by the great Icelandic fly tier Kristjan Gislason. Later that year I wanted to make the Frances more robust for Salt water fishing, as the small Icelandic salmon hooks rusted after a couple of trips in the salt. Also the dubbed body, hackle and rib showed also signs of ware and tear. It was, for me, that the main attractor element was the three flaring bristles that made the Frances so shrimp like. My variant changed and developed. I exchanged the body dubbing, hackle and rib with red Epoxy. I added an extra feeler and made them three times longer than those on the Frances. I named it after the original it was based on ‘Epoxy Francis’ but as it became more popular amongst sea trout fishermen here in Scandinavia, it was given it a new name, ‘Proppen’ which means blood clot in Norwegian!
This has, without doubt become my most productive fly for salt water sea trout fishing. There is something about this pattern that sea trout just can’t resist. But don’t stop there, there have been many reports of salmon, brown trout, char, perch and even flounder! in both fresh and salt water taken on Proppen.
On many occasions when there are sea trout on the move, but they just follow the fly and won’t take, this small fly is extremely effective. When you see a fish following, STOP, your retrieve so the fly hangs. Fished on a long fine leader and floating or intermediate line just under the surface. Fish it with a very slow figure of eight retrieve in flat calm conditions and with short slow pulls in rougher water. The takes are generally savage and powerful, almost pulling the line out of your hand! driving the tiny hook home immediately. Many fishermen are skeptical to fishing such small patterns, but if you give this one a try, I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
How to tie the Proppen
Hook: Mustad C47SNP-DT # 8
Feelers: 4 Stripped cock hackles
Beard: Deer hair summer coat
Body: Veniard red synthetic quill coated with Bug Bond and coloured with waterproof felt pen
Secure your small salt water hook in the vice as shown.
Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank until you come to the bend.
Select four stiff light coloured cock hackles. Strip off all the fibers from the four hackles, taking care to remove them all from the lower two thirds of the stem.
Tie in the four stripped hackles evenly spaced as shown around the hook shank, and cut them all down to the same length.
Cut a small bunch of early season deer hair from a summer coat, this wont flare as much as the winter coat hair. And even the points in a hair stacker. Tie in the deer hair as a skirt over and around the cock hackles. Trim off the surplus deer hair and tie down.
Originally I used one light and one dark moose hair for the body wound together, but I recently exchanged this with the new Veniard synthetic quill. It’s much easier and quicker to tie with and much stronger.
Wrap the synthetic quill evenly over the whole body and tie off behind the hook eye. Whip finish and remove the tying thread.
Give the synthetic quill body a coat with Bug Bond. Once coated with Bug Bond cure the body with a blast from the UV light.
Colour the body with a water proof felt pen and give it another coat of Bug Bond.
The finished fly ready for the salt.