Carson Lake Special Wet Fly

Carson Lake Special – Don Bastian’s interpretation of this pattern. These are dressed on size #4 Mustad 3906 irons.

A customer in Colorado recently requested me to tie this pattern for him among some other traditional wet flies in a custom order for his collection. This is the Carson Lake Special, a regional pattern that is still sold in Colorado fly shops. He sent me samples, and says it’s an older pattern. He remembered his dad talking about it when he was a boy. I tied these flies in the photo on #4 – Mustad 3906 wet fly hooks; he wanted them that size for his order along with a couple traditional winged wets. When I asked his permission to place this pattern on my blog, he also thought maybe some people could help shed some light on the history or origins of this fly. Any input on this fly would be greatly appreciated.

Seems to me, even in this big hook size, the Carson Lake Special would really be a good fish catcher. It looks fishy as hell all get out, as we say here in Pennsylvania. Indeed, I believe it surely must be a good fly in the smaller 8’s, 10’s, 12’s that it is still sold in, otherwise it would not have survived. Most of the fly shop versions of the Carson Lake Special and other flies for that matter, are tied in Timbuktu and Timbukthree by non-fly fishing fly tiers as per usual these days for store bought flies, and I mean most places, the majority of shops and big box stores; flies come from Sri-Lanka, Kenya, Central America, and who knows where else.

My customer sent me samples that were store bought and one he tied; close examination of these had me elevate the rib with a bodkin on one of the samples and I found a definite rib, not wire; there was a rib, and it was definitely green which resulted in me using the green floss, twisted for the rib. The body would be natural dubbing because I got the impression the fly was in existence before the age of synthetic dubbings. He said he would be interested to see what I came up with, this is it:

Carson Lake Special

Thread:        White Danville Flymaster 6/0

Hook:             3906 Mustad size #4

Tag:                Lagartun green silk floss

Tail:              A single black or brown hackle tip, to match body color

Rib:                 Lagartun green silk floss, twisted

Hackle:         Black tied palmer, clipped; or brown tied palmer, clipped

Body:              Black Wapsi squirrel dubbing, or Brown Wapsi Squirrel dubbing

Hackle:         Collins Hackle Farm grizzly hen back, two turns

Head:             Lagartun green silk floss, finished with Danville Black Flymaster 6/0

After struggling through tying the first two I suddenly realized it was easier to clip the palmered hackle; then wind the rib, and also to clip the palmer hackle before you tie in the collar; I did that once too. Also, the Lagartun floss is multi-stranded, so I separated it into two and three strand sections to wind the tag, rib, and head. A bit of a pain-in-the-ass challenge, but it was necessary, even on this large hook.

If you tie any Carson Lake Specials to fish, I would appreciate your replies of successful fishing reports…or not-so-successful reports.

January 5th, 2012 additional comment:

My customer in Colorado received his order today, and sent me an e-mail. I was very pleased. Here is what he wrote:

“Man the flies look incredible! My dad loved the look of the Carson Lakes… in fact he said that those flies you tied were the first ones that he’s seen, that look exactly like the originals.”
“At some point I’d like to have a Q and A session regarding the technique that you used to tie them… as
I’d rather not open up the cases if I don’t have to.”
What his dad said is a real compliment to me; I don’t know how I managed to accomplish that; replicate an unknown regional pattern almost dead-on, without being actually sure how to proceed when I started, other than to give it my best shot. Must have been some luck and my fly tier’s intuition.