December 2010

Light Spruce

Jeffery Skeate


Hook: Streamer (Size 2 - 10)
Thread: Black 8/0 Pre-Waxed
Tail: Peacock Sword Fibers
Body: Rear 2/3 Red Floss or Thread
Front 1/3 Peacock Herl
Wing: 2 (or 4) Matched Badger Saddle Hackles Throat: Badger Hackle - Collar Style

Comments and Tying Instructions:
Tying Instructions:
  1. Attach 4-6 peacock sword fibers to bend of hook for tail.
  2. Wrap body with Red Floss (or Red Thread) 2/3 up to eyelet.
  3. Wrap final 1/3 of body to eyelet with Peacock Herl.
  4. Attach 2 (or 4) matched Badger Hackles for feather-wings, shiny side in.
  5. Tie in throat with Badger Hackle Collar-Style.
  6. Whip-finish head and tie off.

The Light Spruce is a classic west coast feather wing streamer pattern and is effective for all inland trout as well as anadromous coastal species. The pattern was designed by Bert and Milo Godfrey of Oregon around 1918 while fishing on the upper Lewis and Clark River in northeastern Oregon. It is generally assumed that the Godfrey’s were fishing for sea-run cutthroats and steelhead. In its larger sizes, the Light Spruce is still used as a steelhead pattern. I recently found a monster four-inch Light Spruce fly in my old friend Don’s collection of fly boxes, and Don did some steelhead fishing in his day. Other color variations of the Light Spruce include the Dark Spruce, the Golden Spruce and the Silver Spruce, the Silver Spruce being the modern-day preference for steelhead. The fly has a very enticing movement in both quick and still water and has been very effective as a winter streamer pattern in northeast Iowa, particularly for rainbow trout, although brown trout and brookies will take it as well. Brook trout are not supposed to be carnivorous, but the sixteen-inch brook trout I caught on the pattern earlier this winter must have been an aberrant carnivore. When well-tied, it is an extremely durable pattern and has a tendency to hook fish with ease, primarily because there are no encumbrances at the hook point. A #8 or a #10 hook seems adequate for our local streams.

Photographs ©2010 by Marv Slind