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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Roderick Haig-Brown's Steelhead Bee is as classic as they come. It catches steelhead very well. Its main problem is that it does not stay on the surface as well as other dryfly patterns. RHB was from an era that only fished dries casting upstream and dead-drifted...an era not so easily embraced in today's angling culture. Haig-Brown used a singlehand rod and greased the Steelhead Bee and the leader very well. False casts to shake off the water were required to keep the bug afloat.

While I have used the Steelhead Bee successfully dead-drifted and on a tightline swing with a two-hander to catch steelhead, it would require more frequent attention to keep afloat compared to say...a GreaseLiner. The Bee was just not meant to swing.

I know others have adapted to waking the Steelhead Bee by more forward facing wings, but it just looks ridiculous when dead-drifted...and to be honest, it rolls and wakes just a bit awry.

The following 2 images show a standard Steelhead Bee that I tied with a dubbed body. It will float well for the most part, but eventually the tail drags under - the steelhead still eat it, but I wanted a better dry fly than what it offers.
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So I started tinkering by substituting the dubbed body with CDC (below). Like a spring bee full of pollen. I was excited to try it out.
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The CDC body did okay and seemed fishy enough, but eventually it did not have enough buoyancy to counteract the hook and the soaked squirrel tail (See above underwater image).


Well, back to the bench. Initially, I didn't want to go clipped-deer hair body but it seemed the only viable option. So brown deer hair I went...but not wanting to succumb to the mundane, I went CDC for the yellow stripe. Promising look but would it fish better than the other attempt?

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Below you see it dead-drifting. Nice and horizontal on the surface.

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Then the trial on a tighline swing: it worked better than I imagined.
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continued...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I may have found my inner peace in tying the Steelhead Bee. I swung the deer and duck body Bee and it fished great in smooth glides and pretty well in the chop. It also does great dead-drifting.

No, it won't out-do foam for floatability. And, no, it won't fish better than a GreaseLiner or a Thompson River Caddis. But it's going to be lead-off hitter all season long for me.

Of note: keep the wings sparse, equal, and well-divided (too much wing and the fly topples forward; not enough gap between the wing and it topples to one side or the other)


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Cheers and Blessings,
Adrian
 

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That is a great post. Good write up and the pictures really bring me through your process.
 

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Thank you for a wonderful post with stunning pictures - it made my Saturday morning.

Your bees are sweet!
 

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This post kick-started my brain this morning :)
After a full day on the water playing with the Sharpes and a few single malts last night, the Sumatra wasn't working, then I read this post ...
I can attest to spinning deer in hand, not the easiest task and should only be attempted when you are in the "right" frame of mind :LOL::LOL:

These Bee's are BRILLIANT !! Absolutely BRILLIANT !!


Mike
 

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Nutter. Love it. This is why I love your tying. Well, OK, one reason.

So a weird observation from my last trip to the coast. I was swinging a favorite run on my favorite river, and was surprised to see first a bike tucked up agains the cut back, and then slowly an over grown camp revealed itself. It had been in place quite a while, and there were no vehicles around, but I kept hearing rustling sounds. As I had about reached my limit of feeling like I was encroaching on/being watched, I saw a bit of movement to the tent fly. A raccoon waddled out and proceeded down to the river.

They dawdled a minute and then proceeded to swim across the tailout I was working my way down. In the soft, overcast backlight, I could see him/her really well, and was baffled by its tail. The white bands soaked up water and collapsed, the dark bands stood our full. It looks d like one of those spaced grips of cork rings on some bamboo sh rods, though more severe and wider gaps- I think three light rings -It gave the oddest appearance to the tail. And brings to mind your mixed materials- the spun deer hair and the CDC. I wonder if the CDC will collapse into a wasp waist? Or maintain its volume? And is this either good or bad? (For what it's worth, I'm suspicious if it does collapse, giving it a narrow waist, and more bulbous backside, it may actually improve the skate. Also, you could call it a Kardashian variant of the Haig-Brown Steelhead Bee).

Just thinking. I have lots of time for the just now, which could well prove problematic.

Another thing I never really got around to contemplating was how that little raccoon reached their bike pedals. They were not a big critter, and it was a full-sized bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Mike, I overslept a wee bit this morning...waiting for the caffeine to kick in. I may get out in time to the river, before my wife wakes up with the to-do list:D. I could use some stiff Sumatra. Thanks for your vote of confidence on the fly. Cheers!

Matt, your suggestion of Rain-X isn't too crazy😁. Even Haig-Brown wrote about greasing up his flies the night before a fishing excursion.
Below is an insert from an article by Art Lingren (from their BCFF newsletter) regarding the Steelhead Bee. The insert was written by Haig-Brown's friend, Van Egan. You can see that Haig-Brown's Steelhead Bee really required greasing and false casts to stay afloat.

I do like RHB's use of a down-eye hook.
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Richard, some racoons just know how to live. Some even fly spaceships. 😁.
Now, you've got me thinking about a big rumped Bee. Although I was trying to keep things classy for RHB's sake...and then you go and insert Kim Kardashian and trash panda in the mix.😆
 

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Richard, some racoons just know how to live. Some even fly spaceships. 😁.
Now, you've got me thinking about a big rumped Bee. Although I was trying to keep things classy for RHB's sake...and then you go and insert Kim Kardashian and trash panda in the mix.😆
I'm not really thinking RHB was immune to the foibles of our gender. Nuff said.
 
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