My friend John is an extremely talented and innovative fly tier, one who has an explorer’s streak when it comes to materials. He is also one of the finest men I have ever known. John has been sharing unique fly tying materials with me since our meeting two decades ago, most recently one with a distinct southwestern flavor. If you pay any attention to hunting, chances are you have run across the Javelina. They have been a popular bowhunting quarry as long as I can remember, and thus the subject of articles in sporting magazines and today, television and video.
When I was a youngster, javelina’s seemed to be thought of as a species of wild pig, which they are not. Their appearance explains that to some extent, particularly the ruff of brown and whitish hair around their shoulders. I don’t know if western fly tiers have ever appropriated this javelina hair, but some of John’s friends from the southwest certainly figured that he could find a use for it. Being a creative tier, John set about dying the hair, which is barred brown and creamy white, in a variety of colors.
John had used the hair for quill bodies, and was impressed with its ease of use, appearance and durability. Being the kind of friend he is, John provided me with a bunch of dyed javelina hair and suggested I go wild.
Among that first batch was a pale greenish color that simply screamed Green Drake to me, and it found its way onto a variety of my drake patterns. Sadly I did not hit a significant hatch this season, though there were a couple of days when a handful of duns appeared. The quill body was a natural for my 100-Year Dun pattern and it was the fly that fooled a pair of very large trout, the only two I witnessed taking one of those sparse Green Drakes. If you fish the hatch, you know that big, wild Catskill trout can be extremely picky when it comes to the flies we use to convince them a real Green Drake is floating overhead.
The fact that this fly was accepted by two monster trout, each on the first cast, impressed me, and I plan to tie a lot of jave quill patterns for 2021.
I wrote a passage about Hendricksons the other day, and thinking about the hatch got me working out a few Hendrickson and Red Quill variations featuring John’s dyed javelina “quill” bodies. My anticipation for next spring grew substantially as I tied.
I have more colors suited to Hendricksons, March Browns, Sulfurs and more, and have already tied some Isonychia which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try; another great bug that didn’t show me a lot of activity this season. There will be a lot of experimentation over the long Catskill winter. John told me he has had interesting results coloring the dyed javelina hair with a Sharpie, achieving an overwash effect. That can open even more doors at the tying desk. I have an idea for ribbing a hair quill body with very fine thread dubbed with sparse silk, to take advantage of the halo effect devised for my effective Halo Isonychia. The quest for imitation marches on!