Thursday, January 18, 2018

TCL Special Fly Pattern

I recently received the following e-mail:
Scott,  I read your great posts on your blog Flypaper about your trip to Campeche in 2015 {or baby tarpon Ed.} and wanted to ask you a quick favor. I am headed there in late April fishing and for the life of me I can’t find a recipe for the TCL Special anywhere on the internet.  Do you have one or can direct me to one?  I really like the look of the fly, especially the foam version.  Thanks for your time and the awesome blog.
Best Regards,
George

TCL Special tied by Doug Jeffries

So, I asked my fly tying guru and all-around great guy Doug Jeffries if he had a pattern for the TCL Special. Since the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust was involved, Doug bent over backwards providing not only the pattern, but tying instruction and photos too! Thanks Doug!!
Here you go George, you owe Doug a beer and a photo of a tarpon caught with a TCL Special!:
Tarpon Cay Lodge (TCL) Special
This fly was first shown to me back in the late 1990’s by Marc Ruz Ceballo.  Marco saw some surface action flies and thought they would work well in the rios he and his guides fish out of Tarpon Cay Lodge in the northern Yucatan.  Marco was correct; this fly worked extremely well and is a hoot to fish because you get to see the tarpon come to the surface for the fly, sometimes coming out of the water in their aggressiveness.  The fly is best fished with a quick but steady 2”-4” strip, the objective being to make the fly look like a frog kicking its legs.  Ideally, if the fly is working correctly, the wavering wake should expand outward from the fly.

Materials
Hook:  Gamakatsu SC-15, size 2/0
Thread:  Strong, large fly thread, I use Danville Flymaster Plus, 3/0, tan or color to match fly
Tail:  matchstick size bundle of bucktail, two and half hooks long, with 4 – 6 strands of Krystal Flash
Wings:  2 or 3 saddle hackles, preferably stiff so they will kick; grizzly; yellow, orange, red or chartreuse dyed grizzly work best; tied so the splay outward
Head hackle:  long saddle hackle to match wing color
Head:  Spun deer hair, natural color (or dyed if you want to get fancy); clipped to a bullet shape

Tying Steps

Step 1:  Prepare the wings.  Select 2 or 3 stiff saddle hackles, length should be about 2 – 2.5 hook lengths.  The wings will splay outward, so if you want a specific color on the inside or outside plan accordingly.  The outside hackle should be slightly shorter than the inside hackle (not critical but that’s the way Marco ties his).  Align the hackles and place a thin line of Hard As Nails along the stems.  Set aside to dry.  Hint:  Prepare several pairs of wings now before starting the actual tying.


Step 2:  Mount hook in vise and attach thread over the hook point.  Tie in the bucktail and Krystal Flash tail at this point, leaving the hook shank bare to allow spinning the deer hair head.  Hint: Place a drop of super glue on the thread wraps, increases the durability significantly.


Step 3:  Tie the wings on the side of the tail attachment wraps, one set on each side, splayed outward.  Apply another drop of super glue.


Step 4:  Tie in the hackle that will be palmered through the deer hair head.  This hackle needs to have a usable length of 4 – 5 inches so it can be palmered along the head.  No need to make the hackle fibers overly long.



Step 5:  Clip off a bundle of deer hair, approximately ¼ inch diameter (or whatever size bundle you can comfortably spin).  Comb out any underfur and short hairs and clip the bundle so it is about an inch long.  Hint:  Notice that the deer hair is thicker at the base and gets narrower toward the tips.  Take half the bundle and flip it end-to-end.  This places half the thick ends on one side and half the thick ends on the other and makes for a more uniform bundle.  Spin this bundle and pack it back tight against the tail/wing wraps.  Continue spinning bundles of deer hair until the hook shank is completely covered.  Tie off and clip the thread at this point.  Hint:  The deer hair does not have to be packed super tight.  This is similar to a muddler head.  Also, I tie off and clip the thread to make it easier to trim the deer hair head.  If you are careful, you can leave the thread attached.


Step 6:  Trim the spun deer hair pom pom into a bullet shape, roughly half inch diameter.  If desired you can clip the bottom flatter.  The objective is to get this fly skating along in the surface film, making a nice V-wake.  I use scissors, it’s not necessary to use a razor unless you just like exactness.


Step 7:  Re-attach the tying thread right behind the hook eye, taking care not to tie down the deer hair.  Palmer the head hackle through the deer hair head, taking about 4 or 5 evenly spaced wraps.  Hint:  Wiggling the hackle forward and backwards as you palmer it will help the hackle work through the deer hair easier.  Tie off the hackle, whip finish and clip the thread.  Apply head cement if you prefer.


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