Bastian’s Red Squirrel Silver Picket Pin SBS

Now that we are a few days into 2015, I figured I better get something on here. When a friend sent me this link on one of my original patterns – the title fly, or “RSP” as it is now called for short, I thought it would be great to highlight an excellent step-by-step tutorial posted on Fly Anglers On Line (FAOL).

It was done by a fellow whose forum name is ScottP. He did a great job on this, so I figured I could post this here, and augment it with some pertinent fishing info.

The RSP was created over twenty years ago, a brainstorm of mine to modify the famous Pickett Pin wet fly / streamer pattern. Hence the Red Squirrel Silver Body Picket Pin was born. Initially I tied the hackle palmer fashion as on the Pickett Pin, but I later dispensed with that for ease of tying, and the increased durability one achieves from a solidly lashed-in throat hackle.

With a six-word title the fly had way too long of a name, but I never did anything about it until a few years ago. The RSP has accounted for a lot of fish over many years, primarily in Maine, where I ventured nearly every year since 1986 with my brother and a number of different close friends. I assume the fish take the RSP for a minnow, with the gleam of the silver body and added flash of the oval tinsel rib. By itself as a small bucktail type of fly, it does not have a lot of built-in action, but what one imparts with the rod and line hand during a drift and retrieve – twitching, falling back, stripping, slow retrieve with short jerks, etc., can create wonderfully pleasing results. Meaning to say, “Fish on!”

In May of 2011, my brother Larry, his daughter Emily, and I spent a long weekend fishing Maine’s Magalloway River, in the area between Wilson’s Falls and Aziscohos Lake. This fly was posted back then, lacking the SBS, but the highlight of the trip was three large brook trout that all took the RSP, all in the same pool, two in the evening, five minutes apart, and one early the next morning. Here are those pics:

My brother, Larry, with a 17" Magalloway River brook trout caught on the RSP.

My brother, Larry, with a 17″ Magalloway River brook trout caught on the RSP.

Don Baastiaan with a 17-1/2" Magalloway Riveer Brook trout caught on the RSP.

Don Bastian with a 17-1/2″ Magalloway River Brook trout caught on the RSP.

Emily Bastian with the biggest Magalloway River brook trout of our trip (of course!) - a 20-1/2" female, caught on the RSP.

Emily Bastian with the biggest Magalloway River brook trout of our trip (of course!) – a 20-1/2″ female, caught on the RSP.

Notice we are all smiles! Each of these trout was caught using a sink-tip line, 6 or 7 weight, and a Wooly Bugger in front of the RSP. Both flies are normally attached on 3x or 5# Maxima leader material, about 22″ to 24″ apart. The water was high. We spent a half-hour nymphing to no avail, prior to my decision to go with the bugger and RSP rig. When I did, I hooked up in five minutes. Emily at once changed her rig and took her trophy on the very first cast. Larry was also into a third large trout minutes later, but his got away when the hook pulled out. Next morning we returned and gave him the hotspot at the head of the pool. Then he lucked out and landed his big trout, too.

Here is the link for the RSP SBS:

He altered the tail by using pheasant fibers; I always use schlappen or hen fibers and generally always tie in a beard-style or false hackle throat. Thanks Scott for a great job and great photos on my pattern!

Now a last word or two on the RSP. It works as a crappie fly. Most guys who have fished for them know they love minnows. I have done well with the RSP on crappies. I have sold some to local customers here in Pennsylvania, and they have contacted me telling of their success using it on my home waters of Spring Creek and Penn’s Creek…both hard-fished waters, and places I confess, I have mostly dry fly fishing and used nymphs for the last many years…they tell me the RSP works very well there, so I better start giving it a whirl come Spring. 😉

The RSP can be purchased from me on

The RSP - tied by Don Bastian. We almost always tie and fish this fly in a #8 or #10, 3x long shank hook.

The RSP – tied by Don Bastian. We almost always tie and fish this fly in a #8 or #10, 3x long shank hook. The wing is red squirrel. Scott posted that he used fox squirrel, which I have also done. They are both marked the same, but the red squirrel is shorter, making it better suited for the small sizes the RSP is normally tied in.

A School of RSP’s

This photo is 2-1/2 dozen of my original variation of the Picket Pin, formerly known as the Red Squirrel Silver Picket Pin, now called by a name that is much easier and faster to say, the “RSP.”

My friends, brother, niece and I have been fishing the RSP since the early ’90’s with great success. I have used it primarily in Maine, though I don’t doubt at all that it would take trout in any stream where “red fin minnows” abound. My dad used to call them that, I think it’s a local name for Black-nosed Dace.

RSP minnow imitation, size #8 - 4xl, an original streamer fly by Don Bastian. Anyone care to play, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Here is the recipe:


Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 Brown

Hook: Size #6 – #10 4x long. This pattern could be made larger, but I have always fished it in #8 and #10.

Tail: Brown schlappen fibers or hen hackle

Rib: Oval silver tinsel

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Hackle: Brown schlappen or hen fibers

Wing: Red squirrel. Fox squirrel was used on these, the markings are the same as red squirrel with the reddish-brown tips and black center.

Head: Peacock herl. Use two strands; winding two at once gets the job done faster, but moreover, two strands of peacock herl are twice as strong as one. Add a drop of head cement before winding the herl.

Here is a link to my Magalloway River Brook Trout Trio post, with photos of three big brookies caught last May on the RSP:

Here is the link to the RSP Product page on

More RSP's - from a different, earlier batch than the ones above. Same hook size, this photo was added on April 13th.

RSP - tied and photographed by Bob Petti of New York. Bob is one of the contributing tiers for my upcoming book, The Favorite Flies of Mary Orvis Marbury. The river in the background is the Upper West Branch of the Delaware River, the date Bob took the photo was Opening Day in New York, April 1st. He noted unfortunately, he was unable to get the RSP into a trout's jaw. Better luck next time Bob! Thanks for sharing the photo.

Magalloway River Brook Trout Trio…

Last weekend, on May 21st and 22nd, my brother, Larry, and my niece, Emily, and me took a weekend camping and fishing trip to a campground on Aziscohos Lake in the Rangeley Region of Maine. We camped at Black Brook Cove Campground near the dam at the downstream end of Aziscohos Lake. Among the places we fished was the Magalloway River between the dam and the village of Wilson’s Falls. The flow was 1000 cfs – quite high – when we arrived. Flows are always relative considering the size of the normal river channel. In the section below the dam, this was ripping white-water through the boulder-strewn channel. It was lowered to 800 cfs on Saturday May 21st. Still high, and I doubt it could be crossed safely, but it was significantly better for fishing.

We went into a section of water above Wilson’s Falls on Saturday evening. After we all tried tandem nymph rigs with no results, I decided to fall back on a preferred technique that is at times more reliable, more of a favorite method to me, and certainly more fun than nymphing under most circumstances. And I also find that in new water, streamer fishing seems to be a better way to search the water, and more water can be covered and effectively fished compared to nymphing. I re-rigged with a sink-tip line and a tandem set up; a #6 black bead-head Woolly Bugger on the dropper with a #8 – 3 xl RSP (Red Squirrel Silver Picket Pin – see why we named the fly by its initials!) on a 3x tippet point. In less than five minutes I hooked and landed the trout in the photo. Emily was properly inspired and immediately changed her floating line nymph rig to a ‘bugger with an RSP’ on the point, and she took her beautiful brook trout on her first cast with the new set up.

About a half hour later, Larry hooked up, but lost his fish, most likely another big brookie because of the bend he had in his rod, and the fish never surfaced but just kept deep as big brook trout usually do.

Sunday morning we returned and after about 45 minutes, my brother caught his big trout. So the three of us, took these three brook trout all on the same fly, the RSP. The RSP is a variation of the famous Picket Pin. Luckily we had cameras…

RSP – Red Squirrel Silver Picket Pin Streamer


Red Squirrel Silver Picket Pin

Thread: Brown Danville 6/0 Flymaster or equivalent.

Tail: Brown hackle fibers

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel.

Body: Silver tinsel.

Hackle: Brown hackle barbs, which I usually tie as a throat for increased durability, rather than the traditional palmer as on the original Picket Pin.

Wing: Red squirrel tail, stacked, tied rather sparse. Fox squirrel can also be used.

Head: Peacock herl wrapped almost to eye of hook.

For those of you who are not fly tiers, the RSP can be ordered from me on my page of (See links to the right).

The RSP was created by me back in the early 1990’s and has been a staple on my pond and river tandem fishing streamer, wet, and bugger rigs pretty much ever since. I usually fish both flies on 3x tippets, but sometimes I use 5# Maxima on the dropper. It’s less pound-test than the 3x DaiRiki I use, but the knots often hold better. It is a really good fishing fly. The pattern is small, just over an inch long, and I think it probably imitates a tiny minnow or baby smelt – a primary food of lake-run trout, tougue, and salmon. I think the RSP works so well because it has a slim profile, silvery body, dark back, all imitative features of smelt or minnow patterns. Usually we fish it slower but sometimes short-fast jerks or rod-tip twitching are effective. I am always employing a variety of tactics to change-up my streamer / wet fly fishing.

Orders for the RSP may be placed at

I hope you enjoy these pictures. Yes, indeed, we had a great trip! I also took the largest landlocked salmon I have ever taken on a dry fly, on the Upper Magalloway below the #10 bridge where it flows into Lake Aziscohos.

All three trout were netted, kept in the water except for the few seconds of these photos, and released.

Don Bastian with 17-1/2″ native Maine brook trout, girth: 10-1/2″

Larry Bastian with 17″ native Maine brook trout, girth: 10″

This trip, this day, we were all smiles.