Sometimes I get caught up in tying overly complicated flies, 12-step works of art, half a dozen dubbing loops, fancy feathers and furs that come at a premium and painstakingly position each and every thread wrap to get it just right. I think special fly for a special fish, one that doesn't come easy or often, like steelhead. I think I'll remember the hour I spent putting that fly together when I carefully pluck it from the jawline of that flawlessly dime bright winter fish it managed to deceive...and I often do. Salmon fishing however, is a different game. They frequently lurk in the woody, snag riddled quarters of the river. They're burly, brawling and usually have teeth. They are hell on flies. Often your fly catches that sunken alder, invisible below the surface before you figure out where not to cast and it's done for without a fish ever even looking at it. I view salmon flies as dispensable commodities and you'd better have a good few on hand if you expect to fish a morning and make it till noon with a few flies left in your box.
I like flies that are quick and simple for coho and chum, flies that I won't get too attached to. I've been tying various versions of the Strutter for many years and they've always worked really well. I used to use a colored tungsten bead and tie on a 4xl streamer hook. The flies looked good and fished well, but the hooks would bend on big fish, the paint would chip on the beads and the fly was essentially done. We picked up the Aqua Flies Intruder Eyes at the shop last year and have added the full range of sizes since. The paint holds up well, they have a nice weight to them and will invert your hook to allow it to ride point up. I snag up less frequently as a result and the fly tends to find several fish before it's inevitably lost to some misfortune. I tie these in white with chartreuse eyes, black, purple and olive with the flame eyes, and sometimes pink eyes. Copper and white works well too, but the color combos for this simple template of a fly are almost endless. Experiment at your liberty. And yes, the Strutter is indeed named after a KISS song. A good one at that.
Hook: #4 Gamakatsu L11S-3H
Thread: 140 Denier Black Ultra Thread
Eyes: 3/16" Chartreuse Aqua Flies Intruder Eyes
Tail: White Marabou
Flash: Silver Krinkle Mirror Flash
Body: UV Silver Polar Chenille
Confluence Beer Pairing: My wife lived in Australia for a number of years long before we met nearly 23 years ago. She used to talk about VB or Victoria Bitter as what the locals drank, much like our affinity for Rainier here in the Northwest. Contrary to the marketing machine, Fosters was not actually Australian for beer. Fast forward a few decades later and I actually got to try it on Christmas Island. Of the inconsistent and often questionable beer options on this remote island, it became my beer of the week. You'll probably have to go to Australia, Kiribati or some far off atoll in the South Pacific to find it but did you really need another excuse?