Some people call the Steelhead Omelet simply an "Estaz Egg" and a number of our friends across the pond might call it a “Blob Fly”. Whatever you call it, there’s no disputing that trout, and steelhead in particular, have a hard time resisting it.
Because I’m tying this one for steelhead, I’m going to use a nice, sturdy Dai-Riki #135 in a size 10. Begin by getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of fluorescent orange UTC 140 Denier. Start your thread on the hook shank behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Continue taking thread wraps down the shank until your thread is located directly above the hook barb.
The fly is constructed mainly of a material that goes by a variety of names. Here it’s called Pearl Chenille but it’s also called Estaz, Cactus Chenille and some other names too. They’re all pretty much the same. For this fly, I’ve chosen the color orange in size medium.
To cut down on waste and make tying easier, I like to load the material onto a bobbin rather than cutting a segment free from or leaving it on a card, or in a packet. This takes just a couple of tools and a little bit of prep.
A bobbin with a slightly larger than normal tube diameter is desirable but not essential. You’re going to need an empty thread spool. If you don’t have one, I recommend tying flies until you do. Attach one end of the chenille to the spool by whatever means possible and really fill the spool up. Most of the time you can get an entire packet or a card onto the spool without drastically overloading it. The next step is to get the filled spool secured on your bobbin. Once it’s on the bobbin, you can set it aside without worrying about the material coming unwound.
The bobbin I’m using here has an extra long tube so most normal threaders are too short to work. An 8-inch length of 1X monofilament tippet material, folded in half and knotted with a double surgeon’s knot to form a 4 inch long loop, is used instead. Insert the loop end of the mono into the business end of the bobbin and push it through. When the loop emerges at the spool end of the tube, place the free end of the chenille through it and then gently pull on the mono to draw the material through the tube. With about an inch of the material showing, strip an 1/8 inch or so of the shiny stuff off to expose the twisted string core.
Now, give your bobbin a quick counterclockwise spin to uncord the tying thread. This will cause it to jump slightly rearward and easily catch the chenille’s bare string core. Continue taking thread wraps forward to bind the string to the top of the hook shank. End with your tying thread right at about the hook point.
For the fly’s blood dot or yoke, I’m going to use medium sized red pearl chenille, a 6 inch piece will make numerous flies without a lot of waste. As you did with the orange chenille, strip off an 1/8 inch or so of the shiny fibers. Again, give your bobbin a counterclockwise spin to uncord the thread before you begin to tie in the red chenille. Once the material is secured, start taking wraps with it, one in front of the other, pulling the fibers back as you go - 2 or 3 wraps is plenty. You can then secure it with a few tight wraps of tying thread, pull everything nice and tight and snip the excess off close. Preen any forward-pointing fibers rearward as you take thread wraps forward towards the hook eye. Try to build a nice little thread ramp down to the shank if you can, ending just behind the eye.
Get hold of the bobbin that’s loaded with the orange chenille and start making touching wraps with it up the hook shank, coaxing the fibers rearward as you go. When you reach the red chenille, cross over it on the underside of the hook shank and continue taking touching wraps in front of it. Make your last wrap of orange chenille right at the back edge of the hook eye and then take thread wraps to secure it. Once you’re sure it’s really locked down, snip the excess off close. As you can see, not even a millimeter of the orange chenille goes to waste. To finish the fly, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and then snip or cut your tying thread free.
With a little bit of fluffing, your Steelie Omelet is ready to fish. For those brave enough to strap on a pair of cleats and battle the ice and snow, winter steelheading can be very productive and, if you’re lucky, less crowded. Although orange and red is my go-to color combination, it can’t hurt to carry others as well. Chartreuse, pink and yes, even blue all deserve some space in your steelhead box.