I have a thing for movement flies, patterns that win some points in the imitation category, but do most of their scoring due to a strong image of life. The little streamer fly I dubbed the Full Dress Copper Fox is a perfect example. It has a general sort of blurred baitfish shape that is suggestive of a sculpin perhaps, though it was not designed to mimic the sculpin profile. The flashy, copper UV enhanced body could give the impression of any brownish, coppery fish, but movement is its primary attraction.
I tied a couple of little minnows the other day and have since decided that a minnowy version of the Copper Fox was in order. Enter the Ghost Fox: UV pearl and white combined with the same formula as its predecessor. I love Arctic Fox tail. The late Ed Shenk told me decades ago that it was his preferred material for his famous Shenk’s White Minnow, a fly that has a legendary reputation. There has always been something about the natural fox fur that makes flies more productive, and I have used it for my Shenk Minnows and a lot of other streamers during the past thirty years.
Fox tail moves well in the water, yet keeps its shape better than marabou, which can roll back and get caught on the hook when swimming and twitching through the water. The bulk of the soft fur gives the fly a touch of buoyancy too I think, even when well wetted.
I tend to fit a small tungsten bead to the head of these small streamer flies, giving it enough current penetration to sink quickly early in the swing, and being generally safe to fish on one of my off-season bamboo rods. I still watch the winds when I make my choice between cane and graphite for a couple of hours of winter fishing. Strong, unexpected gusts can still damage a rod when they drive your fly into the blank in mid-cast, weighted or not.
Perhaps the roller coaster of our February/March weather will give me the chance to wander out there somewhere and give the Ghost a swing. It has a lot to live up to considering the recent accomplishments of the Copper Fox!