The Malteser Fly Pattern
Thinking "outside the box" when it comes to fly tying sometimes pays off
By Ian Scott
Thinking "outside of the box." Sometimes, folks will think you are crazy. Ah well - if it means only a small part of time experimenting, why not think outside of the box, and give something a try? As much as it is true that a fish's diet includes aquatic insects, it's also a fact that most fish are also quite cannibalistic - not only eating their own species but other species of fish that might be in the neighbourhood. And why not? Fish are full of protein, usable fat, and energy! In the underwater world, not only is it a "fish eat bug" world, it's also a "fish eat fish world."
I was thinking about this one evening while giving my Maltese puppy dog a needed trim. And as I trimmed his hair, I noticed that it was silky smooth, and wondered what it would be like to use it some fly creation. So, I decided to go for something ultra simple, that would make good use of the properties of the puppy's hair, and at the same time, be fast and easy to tie up. On previous occasions, when I had given my puppy a bath, I noticed how his hair all clumped up and curled together. These observations were later put to use to create a fly.
I have to admit that I did not have some end product in mind. I was simply curious, and I had time. And lots of Maltese puppy hair to work with. So, I tightened up a 3x long Dai Richi size 12 hook into my vice and began creating.
I wanted a bead head, for sure. But the beads in my possession had large holes.. and I hate beads that are so loose that they could interfere with putting tippet through the hook before tying it on. So, in that case, I create a small "head" with thread. In this case, I used red thread before putting a yellow glass bead on the hood.
After the yellow glass bead was attached, I decided to wrap red thread up and down the hook shank, quite thickly. Then, I took a clump of Maltese puppy hair and tied it on to the hook. I had to bind down extra tight, and even bind down a little more than usual - in fact, the fly looks quite ugly from an aesthetic point of view but I was more interested in the action that this clump of Maltese puppy hair would provide when wet, against the background of a red thread body and the reflection of a yellow glass bead in clear water, under sunny conditions. I kind of giggled at my own experimentation, but what the heck, right?
During one of my trips to the Grand River, to a place known as Wilson's Flats, in the middle of a bright sunny day, I had little luck with any nymphing and there was nothing rising. So, I decided to tie on my little "Malteser," and let it drift down the riffle - and after the drift had completed, began stripping the line in.. and I immediately had a nice brown trout both take the fly and I brought it to hand. This was repeated several times over the next half hour.
Another day, I used the fly in another location on the Grand River and caught a few brown trout while also having a smallmouth bass attack it - but the bass did some aerobatics, and shook the hook. I also found this fly to work best in bright sunlight. I also found that at least on the Grand River, yellow glass beads worked better than green or any other colour of beads.
I had hoped to use my "Malteser" during the 4th annual Canadian Fly Fishing competition, but although the official rules state that bead heads are allowed, we were told verbally that glass beads were prohibited, the night before the competition. This did not give me enough time to recreate the fly using gold or copper beads, but perhaps they'd work as well - I don't know. Maybe even tying the fly on a streamer hook would work well, too. I just tied up a bunch on hooks I had handy to me at the time.
I've joined a "fly swap" and will be sending off my Malteser's (named, by the way, but Ernie Kalwa) and I'm going to be interested in anyone else's success with the hair of my little Maltese puppy.
Materials Used in the Malteser
Hook: Dai-Riki Nymph Size 12 (3x long)
Head: Yellow Glass Bead, Red thread
Body: Uni Red Thread
Tail: Maltese Puppy Hair
I'll likely do more experimentation with hook styles (at first appearance, the tail extends way too far over the hook - but when wet, it curls up so the length is not a big deal) and thickness of clumps of puppy hair. But whatever, this fly caught me fish, and I'm only sad that glass beads were not allowed in the Canadian Fly Fishing Competition.