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Hi-Vis Coachman Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Hi-Vis Coachman
1X-long dry-fly hook (here a Dai-Riki #300), size 14
Black, 6/0
Fluorescent chartreuse deer-body hair, cleaned and stacked
Fluorescent chartreuse deer-body hair, cleaned and stacked
Peacock herl
Grizzly rooster saddle hackle, clipped on the bottom
Tying thread
Accent band:
Red tying thread, 70-denier or 8/0
Final adhesive:
Head cement
Sharp scissors, hackle stacker, whip-finisher
Show / Hide Hi-Vis Coachman Transcript

Video Transcript:

Phil Monahan, of Orvis News Fly Fishing blog fame, borrowed elements from a variety of patterns to come up with this highly visible fly, capable of staying afloat in the tumbling pocket water of Vermont’s mountain streams. He calls it the Hi-Vis Coachman, for rather obvious reasons. This one is tied with chartreuse but yellow, orange, white and even hot pink work well.

For a hook, I’ve chosen a Dai-Riki #300 in a size 14. The pattern seems to benefit from an extra bit of length. Start by mashing the barb and then getting the hook firmly secured in your tying vise.

For thread, it’s hard to go wrong with black 6/0 Danville, but red also looks very nice. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving a little space behind the eye and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. End with your tying thread about 1/4 of the way down the hook shank.

Although not essential, super glue works wonders when it comes to stopping deer hair wings from rotating around the hook shank. A small drop is all you need. That’s a bit too much but I’m going to go with it anyway.

For the wing, I’ve chosen fluorescent chartreuse deer body hair. It would be great to use true comparadun hair, but it’s difficult to find in bright colors.

If you have a larger pair of tying scissors, use them to snip about a half a pencil diameter’s worth of hair free from the hide. This will save the tips of your smaller, fine scissors. Remove the short hairs and fluffy fibers from the butt ends. Doing this really helps to get the wing to fan correctly. I’m fortunate enough to have both a large and a small stacker so I’ll place the deer hair tips first into the large stacker and give it a few taps to get everything roughly aligned. I’ll then pick up my large scissors again and snip the uneven butts off square. This shorter, more compact bundle will then fit easily into my small stacker for final tip alignment. Here’s what the two stackers look like for size comparison. For me, it’s a luxury well worth having.

Once you have the deer hair completely stacked in the small stacker, remove it by getting hold of the very tips with your right hand and, while keeping the tips aligned, grab the bundle between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. This makes it easy to measure a wing approximately a hook shank in length. Transfer the measurement forward to the tie-in point and make 2 loose collecting wraps before drawing them closed with thread tension. The hair should flare a little bit but try to keep it from rotating to the underside of the hook shank. I like to then make an angled wrap into the hair, like so, and then push my tying thread rearward. I’ll take another one of these wraps lower down in the hair. These extra angled wraps, along with the super glue, have improved my comparadun wings immensely.

Now, grab your smaller tying scissors, and lift the butt ends up and cut them off at a shallow angle. Then take thread wraps down the angled ends. You can see how the glue will lock the whole assembly in place. Once you reach bare hook shank, take a few wraps forward up the incline.

For the tail, separate a small 1/4 pencil diameter bunch and then snip it free from the hide. Once again, I’m using my larger scissors to do this. Strip the fuzzies and shorts from the butts and with this small of a clump, you can go straight into your small stacker. Give it a real good stacking to align the tips and remove it in the opposite direction you did the wing and measure to form a tail about a hook shank in length. You can then snip the excess butts off square. Take thread wraps to secure the deer hair to the top of the hook shank. At the bend, take a few, somewhat looser wraps which will work to contain, rather than flare, the deer hair. The whole body is going to get covered up so don’t worry too much about what it looks like at this point. End with your trying thread right at the base of the tail.

I’m going to warn you, I tie the body of this fly differently than most people would. Do it however works best for you. I’ll start with 2 or 3 peacock herls and break off an inch and a half or so of their brittle tips. Tie them in at the base of the tail and relocate your thread back to the base. You can then start making touching wraps with the peacock herl. The tying thread helps to keep the herls together as you wrap. Build up the herl body and tie it off, leaving a small amount of space behind the wing.

I’ve found high quality rooster saddle hackle works really well for patterns like this, that are intended for rough water. Measure to make sure the hackle is the correct size for the hook you’re using. Here, it’s just on the edge, between 14 and 16. With the shiny side of the hackle facing you, snip off the webby lower portion of the feather. Then cut a small triangle right at the feather’s base. Strip an 1/8” or so of fibers from the top of the stem and then you can trim the triangle even smaller. This will act as a tie-in anchor.

Place the hackle on the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure the stem. Move your thread back to the base of the hackle. Here again, the thread will hold the hackle back, just like it did with the peacock herl, as you take 2 or 3 wraps of hackle behind the wing. Press the deer hair wing up and back, creasing it with your thumbnail will help, and then take 2 more hackle wraps in front of the wing before securing it with wraps of tying thread. You can then reach in with the ever-so-sharp tips of your small tying scissors and snip the excess hackle off close. If you have any errant or trapped fibers, now is a good time to snip them out.

As with the stackers and the scissors, having both a large and a small whip finish tool is really nice. Here, I’m going to use the small one to do a 5 or 6 turn whip finish on the head of the fly, and then snip or cut the tying thread off close. To get this fly to ride in the film, snip the lower hackle fibers off square, so together the wing and the remaining fibers form a half-circle.

For the red accent band, 70 Denier red Ultra thread works well. Start at the midway point on the body and take wraps rearward and then break or snip off the tag. Continue taking wraps to build up a red band and separate the peacock herl into 2 equal clumps at either end. Now, if you have one, get hold of a large whip finishing tool. This will allow you to whip finish the band without disturbing the wing and the hackle. Although the larger whip finisher isn’t required, it really does make the job a whole lot easier. Seat the whip finish well and then snip or cut your tying thread free. This fly looks more complicated than it is, and it's actually a lot of fun to tie.

You can tell just by looking at it that the Hi-Vis Coachman is going to float well in fast water and will be easy to see, even in low light conditions.