50 Pheasant Flies: The Carey Special

By Nick Simonson

Here’s a cure for the summertime blues, tie up a dozen Carey Specials for a great all-around fly that is perfect for bluegills, crappies, rock bass and more, and because it is made with those cool-looking church window pheasant feathers from up around the shoulders of a rooster, you get a simple fly that has great symmetry and a unique profile in the water. This soft-hackled fly imitates a damselfly nymph and can be pulsed through the water with short twitches of the line to give life and breath to the front collar. Tie a bunch up and get casting because summer – with all its insect life on the move – is the time to use them.

Hook: 2XL Nymph, Size 10-14
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail: Church Window Feather Fibers
Body: 2 Strands of Peacock Herl
Collar: Church Window Feather

Click Here for Step-by-Step Tutorial

Start the fly by securing the hook in the vise and starting the thread, select a small church window feather from the shoulder of a rooster pheasant, and strip the fibers from the quill for the tail. Tie the pinch of fibers in so the tail hangs out about one-half of a hookshank length from the bend. There should be some of the white center of the feather showing

Select two small church window feathers and two strands of peacock herl for the Carey Special. Simonson Photo.

in the tail for added color (1). At that point, tie in a pair of peacock herl strands to form the body of the fly and advance the thread to just behind the hook eye (2). Wrap the herl forward, forming the body of the fly, securing with a few wraps of thread and trimming off the excess (3).

Next select a second church window feather, trim the fuzz and hold the tip of the feather with a hackle pliers. Stroke the fibers backward toward the base of the stem (4). Tie the feather in by the tip and trim off the excess (5). Wrap the feather around the hook shank three times to form a full collar on the fly, catching the excess and trimming it off, covering it up with a few wraps of thread (6). Build up a small thread head, whip finish and add a drop of cement. The front collar fibers should extend back to a little bit beyond the point where the tail is tied in making for a full-looking fly when it moves through the water (7).

In still waters, bluegills, crappies and other panfish will attack the Carey Special when stripped or twitched in a pulsing motion akin to the swimming efforts of a damselfly or another aquatic insect. Tie a bunch up and substitute copper wire, bright dubbings, krystal flash or other body materials to adjust to what the fish want and be ready for summer’s feeding frenzy.

Featured Photo: The Carey Special is a damselfly nymph imitator with some pheasant flair at both the front and back end. It ties up fast and fishes well with some motion. Simonson Photo

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