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Once you’ve been fly fishing for steelhead for a spell, you end up with a short list of confidence flies. Despite the insatiable need to continually create the next best thing in steelhead snacks, there remain a few patterns that you always seem to reach for. Maybe you’ve caught a lot of fish on them, maybe they just seem too swimmy and enticing to resist, maybe your buddy swears by them and your buddy catches a lot of fish. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have a fly you just plain believe in, because at the end of the day, confidence and persistence are about the only things you have going for you when you’re waist deep in a cold river looking for unicorns. 

The Suskwa Poacher has been one such fly for me for some time now. Black, purple, blue, some flash and a standout bright pink head. This fly simply embodies my vision of what I think a steelhead probably wants much of the time. I figure these colors work as well as they do because they’re visible under a pretty wide range of conditions. Dirty water, clear water, early morning, twilight, fish can see the dark silhouette of the Suskwa Poacher readily and if they can see it, you’re already one step closer to getting one to eat. 

The original Poacher works plenty well, but tubes can also be a great way to go to and like most patterns, it can be easily adapted as a tube fly. Tubes allow you to quickly change hooks should the hook get damaged in the course of your fishing or change hook styles as needed, going bigger or smaller as you see fit. I like the Gamakatsu B10S in a #4 attached with an improved clinch knot and jammed in the hook holder portion of the tube. Sometimes in colder water when the fish are apt to nip at the fly, I’ll use a #4 Owner SSW harnessed in a loop and jam the loop knot in the hook holder, allowing the hook to trail back a bit further. You’ve got options, and options are good, right? 

Give this one a tie and don’t be afraid to try other color variations should you so desire. I tie the same basic fly in shades of pink, shrimp pink and orange and it seems to be a big hit with bright coastal fish lower in the river system or for fishing midday.

SPT (Suskwa Poacher Tube) Recipe:
Tube: Pro Tube Flexitube Clear
Thread: 70 Denier Black Ultra Thread
Rear Support: Black Jack FNF UV Jelly
Rear Hackle: Black Speyquill Marabou
Flash: Electric Blue and Copper Flashabou
Body: Silver Flat Diamond Braid
Front Support: Black Jack FNF UV Jelly
Front Hackle: Purple Speyquill Marabou
Flash: Fl. Chartreuse Krinkle Mirror Flash
Collar: KF Blue Schlappen
Cone: Medium Fl. Pink Pro Tube Cone

Confluence Beer Pairing:  I’ve decided to do a dry January this year for some inexplicable reason.  It’s going well but is hindering my ability to pick a relevant beer pairing this month so pick your own favorite to enjoy when you crank out the SPT.  It’s good weather for something dark. If memory serves, and memory is ever so faint these days, the Stemma Pluit Porter was pretty darn tasty at our Stemma tying night last month so you may want to give that one a go.
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