Lefty’s Deceiver

By Nick Simonson

With openwater fishing underway and things moving at a fast pace for spawning pike, running walleyes and both smallmouth and largemouth bass set to join in on the annual movements, a pattern that’s already paying off is Lefty’s Deceiver.  This big baitfish imitator, created by renowned angler and fly tier Lefty Kreh, is perfect for spring fishing (and really anytime between now and ice up) as predators key in on minnows and smaller fish to fuel their spawning activity and recover afterward.  While a bit more complex in its tying process than some other streamers we’ve put together, the extra steps are worth it and they produce a pattern that fish just slam.

A red Lefty’s Deceiver fly tied by Nick Simonson.      In the water it’s sleek, shiny and seductive to predators targeting baitfish. Simonson Photo.
Hook: Mustad 3407 Size 2 to 4/0
Thread: 3/0 Red
Tail: Four Soft Hackle Feathers
Tail Accent: Four Strands Krystal Flash
and one Strand Mylar Tinsel per side.
Underbody: Estaz, Tinsel or Wrapped Krystal Flash
Side Wings: White Bucktail
Overwing: Red Bucktail
Gills: Red Krystal Flash



Pinch and twist the bases of the desired soft hackles that will form the fly’s tail.  Cut them off in the fluffy marabou part of the stem. Simonson Photo.
Place the hook in the vise, using smaller sizes like 2 and 1 for smallies and walleyes, and bigger ones on up to 4/0 for largemouth bass, pike and even muskies.  Start the thread and select four long, full, soft hackle feathers to start the tail of the pattern, twist their bases together on the skin and once combined in a small mass, snip them loose and tie them into place (1). Add a drop of head cement for posterity once the feathers are secured, and tie in four strands of krystal flash accent on both sides of the tail that extends to a point about 1/4-inch behind the tips of the feathers (2).  On top of the krystal flash, tie in a strand of silver mylar tinsel on both sides of the fly that extends just past the longest feathers (3).

Add another drop of head cement and tie in the underbody material such as estaz (4).  Wrap the estaz forward evenly, covering the hook to a point about two hook eye lengths back from the eye.  At that point select a sparse clump of white bucktail, pulling out the long and short fibers and tie it in on the far side of the fly (5).  When tying in the bucktail, trim the butts of the fibers diagonally along the edge of your thumb and forefinger.  This will help the hair tie in evenly and create a base for the overwing.

Trim the butts of each clump of bucktail diagonally against your thumb and forefinger and tie them in with the long side of the clump next to the hook shank on both sides. Simonson Photo.
Repeat the process on the near side of the fly and use your fingers to spread the white bucktail around the body of the fly so the bottom and sides of the hook are covered (6).

In the same manner, tie in a slightly larger clump of red bucktail for the overwing, trimming the butts diagonally again so they fit snugly against the white bucktail below.  Gently position the overwing fibers with your fingers, moving them about after they’ve been partially secured, then add a few thread wraps to lock them into place (7). Finally, tie in a pinch of red krystal flash for the streamer’s gills, pulling the strands tight to the hook point, then cutting with a scissors to create a spreading delta formation under the fly’s head.  From there, whip finish and add a layer of lacquer and the fly is ready (8).  You can add stick-on eyes of your choosing and lacquer the head one more time to secure

Tie Lefty’s Deceivers up in a variety of colors to match the hatch, or conditions. Add fun stick-on eyes and lacquer them into place. Simonson Photo
them in place, if desired.

The fly slims down in the water, but not to the point where the impression of a big fleeing baitfish is lost on hungry pike, walleyes and bass.  Flip this fly out there when fish are keying on runs of shiners or other minnows, and swap the red bucktail for gray, black, purple or other colors to match natural forage or whatever the fish are feeling.  Stripped slowly or twitched quickly with erratic pauses, Lefty’s Deceiver is a big fly that calls in big fish through its undulating wiggle, subtle flash and large profile.  Left to sit, its seductive shimmy is akin to popular plastic stick baits for bass and when dropped in pre-spawn staging areas, it gets battered by bucketmouths with reckless abandon.  Whatever you fish for this spring, tie up a Deceiver, connect it to your big fish fly rod (eight-weights and up for best presentation of bigger models, and don’t forget the shock tippet for those toothy critters) and hold on tight – your season is about to get even more intense with the help of this fly!

(Featured Photo: A Bloody Success.  Stuck square in the nose, this pike smashed a silver Lefty’s Deceiver on a Missouri River feeder stream.  –NOTE THE SHOCK LEADER!– Simonson Photo)

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  1. Pingback: Half and Half

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