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It’s winter in this part of the world and cold air is streaming down from the north, making these January nights the perfect occasion to stay inside and tie up your spring and summer arsenal for whatever lurks in your waters. I am constantly exploring new ways to use the feathers from my favorite upland bird – the ringneck pheasant – and have quite a supply to work with after this autumn’s success. Here are two streamer patterns – one a bit wild, the other more natural – that I’ve found to be fun ties; a bit more challenging than your standard pheasant fly fair, and dynamite on many species, especially bass.

The Pheasant Matuka

The matuka is a streamer that can be tied with just about any long feather on the pheasant’s body, but traditionally, it’s tied with the elongated church window feathers from the upper back. It makes for a shad-like profile so it looks like a big baitfish and has a subtle shimmy in the water – great for bass and big trout.

Use this Pheasant Tail Craw during a tough bite

Use this Pheasant Tail Craw during a tough bite

Materials

Hook: Streamer, Size 1-8
Thread: Red 6/0
Tail & Wing: Elongated Church Window Feathers
Body: 3 Strands of Peacock Herl
Rib: Medium Copper Wire
Collar: Pheasant Rump Hackle

Instructions

Start by securing your thread on the hook and tie a three-inch-long piece of copper wire on top of the hook shank, leaving some room behind the hook eye. Then, tie in three strands of peacock herl at the bend

  1. Advance your thread to the front end of the copper wire and form the body by wrapping the three strands of peacock herl forward, tying off just after the front end of the wire
  2. Next, select two similarly-patterned elongated church window feathers – not the smaller rounded ones, but the ones that look more like arrows
  3. Hold the feathers together, with the colorful sides out and the dull sides facing in. Strip the webbing from the bases and then remove the fibers evenly from the bottom of the feathers so they cover the top of the fly’s body and match up. Tie these feathers down by the stems at the front of the hook, still leaving some room behind the hook eye, and wrap the copper wire straight through both feathers above the bend, parting the fibers with a dubbing needle, as needed
  4. Do this two more times over the body, securing the feather to the hook and forming a rib. You can massage the feather fibers so they stick, forming a solid wing. Tie down and trim the wire
  5. Finally, select a medium pheasant rump soft hackle and tie it in by the stem
  6. Wrap it around the hook three times using a hackle pliers to form the collar. Trim off the excess, make a thread head, whip finish and add a drop of cement
  7. Your pheasant matuka is ready to go! Try a few more with various long feathers from a rooster, such as the gold-and-black lower back feathers, or other birds such as peafowl, for a wide variety of streamers to rip in front of your quarry.

The Pheasant Tail Craw

If you’re bored with nymphs and other standard flies that use the pheasant tail fibers to form their bodies, wings and tails, here’s a pattern that will up your winter excitement at the vise. Use this craw on smallmouth bass, rock bass and trout to solve a tough bite in a pinch!

The Pheasant Matuka is great for Bass and big Trout

The Pheasant Matuka is great for Bass and big Trout

Materials

Hook: Streamer 4-10
Thread: Brown 6/0
Weight: Lead wire
Claws: Split group of PT fibers
Antennae: Krystal Flash
Eyes: 20# mono or bead chain
Hackle: Small brown saddle
Body: Nymph dubbing
Rib: Copper wire
Shellback: PT fibers

Instructions

Start with a few wraps of lead wire behind the hook eye for weight, then:

  1. Tie in a clump of PT fibers, with tips hanging out about 1-hook length over the bend and separate the clump into two smaller ones with some creative thread wrapping; tie in a strand of krystal flash over each claw
  2. Now, tie in another clump of PT fibers by the tips along with the hackle and the eye material of your choice; using a figure-8 wrap to secure the eyes
  3. Form the head of the craw with nymph dubbing and carefully wrap the brown hackle through it; tie off and trim the excess
  4. Next, tie in the copper wire just behind the head and form the body by going over the lead wire with some more nymph dubbing, right up to behind the hook eye. No lead or copper wire should be showing
  5. Fold the second set of PT fibers back over the body, forming the shell case and tie down near the hook eye with a couple wraps of thread; then wrap the copper wire over the back of the body, forming a nice segmented section imitating the crayfish’s body
  6. Trim the excess wire and angle the PT fibers so that they point up over the hook eye at about a 45-degree angle. Trim them so they form a small fan resembling the tip of a crayfish’s tail. Whip finish near the hook eye and secure with a drop of head cement. Your craw is ready to bring the pain
  7. Vary the color of dubbing – orange, shrimp, olive or purple – to see what works best for you … in our outdoors