By Ian Colin James


Photo by Ian Colin James
It's one of the top selling flies at Orvis. Not bad for a colourblind Scotsman with fingers like a bag of hot dogs.

The Brass Ass was developed for fishing off the breakwalls along the Gt Lakes for steelhead in 1993. I wanted a fly which would sink like a brick (no bits sticking out from it to hold it up in the water) and I also wanted the fly to be almost 100% fish proof. The Brass Ass sinks like a brick - so it gets down to where the fish are - and it's a good searching pattern for a whole bunch of fish.

Turned out that brown trout, cutthroat, carp, drum, redhorse, grayling and brook trout also like it. It's used in the U.K as a point fly when fishing in stillwater as it can easily get a team of flies down to where the fish are feeding.

Most folk consider the Brass Ass and the Muncher Nymph to be my signature patterns and both can be found in Fly Tiers of the World, Vol #3 by Steve Thornton.

Dressing:

Hook: Grub or wet-fly
Sizes: #8 to #16
Body: Copper wire
Thorax: Black thread or black floss
Cheeks: Hedron 3-D orange coloured holographic tinsel
(The original had cheeks made from strips of orange garbage bags.)
Coating: 5 minute epoxy


Tying Steps:

1. Tie the thread onto the hook shank well down the bend of the hook.
2. Trim away the excess thread.
3. Tie in a section of copper wire.
4. Trim the excess copper wire.
5. Wrap the thread 3/4 of the way along the hook shank.
6. In touching turns wrap the copper wire 3/4 of the way along the hook shank.
7. Tie off the copper wire
8. Trim away the excess copper wire.
9. Tie a strip of the holographic fiber onto each side of the hook shank.
10. Build up a small thorax with the black thread.
11. Pull the first strip of the holographic fiber along one side of the thorax and tie it down.
12. Trim the away excess holographic fiber.
13. Pull the second strip of the holographic fiber along the other side of the thorax and tie it down.
14. Trim the away excess holographic fiber.
15. Whip finish and trim away the thread.
16. Coat the fly in 5-minute epoxy.


Now this is important.
To make darn sure that the fish can't pick up the smell of the epoxy, let the finished flies sit for at least two or three weeks before you use them.

Editor's Note: I've been fishing this fly in stillwater successfully by fishing it on a very slow retrieve or by giving the line a quick twitch and then pausing for several seconds. As Ian James points out, it sinks quickly and is good as a point fly. However, I've also caught fish with this fly using a floating line when the fish are feeding at or just below the surface.