Fly of the Month – October 2016 – Honey Bug

Honey Bug
By Bruce Schneck

This month we will go back probably to the late 50s for our pattern. Paul Berger of Trout Run marketed a material he sold as Honey Bug yarn. He sold it only through a few shops or personally so it never became widely popular.

Only one type of fly was made with this material. It was a type of fly rather than an exact pattern. Paul used a cotton chenille that he dyed himself for his product. He had some very good dye formulas that he was very secretive of. Since his passing his honey bug yarn has become very difficult to obtain. More than a few tiers dye their own versions of this yarn. Some are rather good for certain colors but not so much on other shades. Personally I have never passed up an opportunity to purchase an inventory of the original Honey Bug material. Several times I have found small sporting goods shops in north-central Pa. with a limited supply. In each case the cache has come home with me. I dabble with dying some of it myself and my results are similar to others. Some colors usually done with Rit dye are all-right and others just do not cut it.

One trick Paul explained to use with his yarn was to employ household bleach, Clorox or peroxide to bleach the belly of flies tied with this product. It made a very natural fly. Paul used a common darning needle to apply the bleach to the fly. A sheet of color combinations Paul had provided years ago is a treasured possession. I have incorporated this method in other patterns since then.

Back in the late 50s I remember one of my uncles taking me to Fishermen’s Paradise near Belafonte for a day of fishing. Here in the first fly fishing only stream, in the State Paul was holding court. He would go to the stream and really do a job on the trout for a while. Then he would head back to the Willow tree to tie some flies. Of course fishermen who had watched him catching all the fish would soon be after him to purchase some of his gems which he of course was happy to sell. Insect green, pale yellow, cream, shrimp/yellow and honey were among his most productive colors. I obtained a limited supply of a yarn he listed as three color. It was mottled gray, olive and black. It made very good cased larvae pattern. Unfortunately this is one I cannot even come close to matching with my own methods of dying.

The fly is super simple to tie. Take your thumb-nail and strip a bit more than ¼ inch of the fibers from the cord. This stripped portion will extend out the back as a small tail and does seem to make a difference in attracting fish. Then tightly wrap the yarn forward to head of the fly. Other than the yarn the only materials used would be hooks like Mustad 9671 or some other streamer hook usually in size 6 or 8 and tying thread. Usually the thread would be a color to match the yarn except when a contrasting color such as black or brown would be used to form a head on the fly. Some tiers wrapped wire on the hook shank before tying the fly. Both times Paul explained his fly to me he discouraged putting weight in the fly. In fact he did not even recommend using split shot for the presentation. The cotton chenille absorbs water very easily making the fly sink well. I squeeze the fly in the water to aid retention and get a very good drift.

However you obtain your material carry an assortment of colors, let your imagination tell you that you are fishing in the 50s or 60s and have a ball. You will be surprised at the number of experienced fishermen that will be ready for a conservation when you mention you are using one of their “secret” flies.

One trick I employ that might be worthwhile is to keep the fibers I pull off to form the tail. I then employ them in a dubbing loop to make some additional yarn. Every 6 flies makes enough yarn for another fly. The mixture of colors makes some interesting flies.