The Renegade is an attractor pattern that’s been around forever. I even read somewhere that it was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite fly, a pretty solid endorsement if you ask me.
I prefer Renegades on the small side so I’m going to use a size 16 Dai-Riki #300 dry fly hook. Start by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, I like to match the front hackle so load a bobbin with a spool of cream colored UTC 70 Denier. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving a small space behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Continue taking thread wraps down the shank to about halfway between the hook point and the barb.
For the tag, extra small mylar tinsel that’s gold on one side and silver on the other works well. A 5” length is enough to make numerous flies. Lay the tinsel against the near side of the hook with the silver side facing you. Take a couple of securing wraps of tying thread to lightly anchor it then pull the tinsel under the wraps so you don’t have to trim it. Continue taking thread wraps to bind the tinsel to the hook, a short ways down into the bend. Then, once again, position your tying thread halfway between the hook point and the barb.
Get hold of the tinsel and start taking slightly overlapping wraps with it up the hook bend. The gold side should face out. Continue taking wraps until you reach your tying thread then use it to firmly anchor the tinsel. Once it’s locked down, snip the excess off close.
The rear hackle on a Renegade is traditionally brown. Select a single likely feather from the neck and, before removing it, make sure the barbules are of the correct length. When you’re satisfied, pluck the feather free from the skin. To prep the feather, strip away the lower fuzzy fibers and, with the shiny side of the feather facing you, strip off a few more from the upper side of the stem. This will encourage the hackle to wrap correctly. You can then snip the excess butt end off leaving a small amount of stem for tie-in. Lay the hackle stem against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it all the way back to the start of the tinsel then forward to about the hook point.
Get hold of the feather and begin making touching wraps with it up the shank. Notice how the extra bit of bare stem really helped out with that first wrap. Continue taking touching wraps with the hackle, usually 5 or 6, until you reach your tying thread. Once there, use it to firmly bind the remainder of the hackle to the hook shank, then snip the excess off close. Oftentimes there’ll be enough feather left to tie an additional fly.
The midsection of the Renegade is made from a single strand of peacock herl. I particularly like the herls just below the eye of the feather. After you snip the herl free, carefully flip it over so the back or stem side is facing you. Keep this orientation while you lay the herl against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it, first back to the brown hackle then forward up the shank. The orientation thing might seem a bit nitpicky but it will allow you to wrap the herl with the stem pointing toward the front of the hook, so each wrap lays over top of the stem of the previous rather than crushing the flues. This helps to produce a nice full bodied fly. You can thank Matt Grobert for that little bit of peacock herl magic. About 3/4 of the way up the hook shank, use your tying thread to anchor the herl and then snip the excess off close.
Prep a single cream or white colored hackle feather in the same manner as you did the brown hackle feather. Again, lay the bare stem against the hook shank and take thread wraps to secure it. Do try to leave just a small amount of space behind the eye. Start taking touching wraps with the hackle to roughly match the wraps in the rear of the fly. Once you’re happy with the result, use your tying thread to firmly secure the hackle tip and then snip the excess off close.
Finally, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, seat the knot really well and then snip or cut your tying thread free. After a little bit of clean up the fly should look something like this.
“My big fish must be somewhere.”
- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea