Project Description

Haymaker, Craven’s

Pattern Description:

From FlyFisherman Magazine

Craven’s Haymaker
July 17, 2016
Fly Fisherman Magazine

Most often when I sit down to try to develop a new pattern I have a theme in mind. These themes can often be summed up by a single word; slim, heavy, wide, specific, detailed, buoyant…things like that. Flies like the Two Bit Hooker and Screaming Banshee came about with a single theme in mind and were pointedly designed around the individual aspect I was after. The Haymaker, however, did not. It was sort of an accident that appeared, then developed a bit more over time and then sneakily became a pattern I pull out of my box a lot more often than I had ever anticipated.
The first inception of the fly now known as the Haymaker came about in an effort to find something subtle and non-descript that I could trail behind a large streamer. After becoming frustrated on a few floats with non-committal fish following my bigger patterns out from the bank only to slowly turn and glide back to their lairs, I reasoned that it might be a good idea to hang some sort of smaller pattern off the back on a long dropper that could just magically appear in front of these fish as they sulked away. I wanted something nymph-like, as I had had previous success in this sort of instance with patterns like a Hare’s Ear Soft Hackle or Copper John, but I wanted it to look more at home when being retrieved as well. That smaller nymph racing behind just never made sense to me as it chased my giant streamer pattern out from the bank like a territorial bulldog, so I decided I needed a pattern that could do double duty as both a larger nymph and smaller streamer; something that could swim or be dead drifted and look right doing either. I had my work cut out for me.
As it worked out over time, the Haymaker came to be sort of a Rubber Leg Nymph/ Wooly Bugger combo platter that fit the bill perfectly. I clearly recall one of my first floats after dialing the pattern in…I had thrown my streamer with the Haymaker on a long (24”) dropper into the tail out of a run and saw the arcing flash of a nice brown turning to chase it down. The river was moving fast and I threw a mend to keep the current from ripping my flies away from, but just as the fish closed in, he just as abruptly turned off and started to slither back into his hole. That’s when he encountered the Haymaker, now dead drifting and plainly looking for trouble. Without changing speed, the fish simply glided right through the fly, taking it in as he returned home. Then I stabbed him in the face and laughed. I love when a plan comes together.
Over the years since I have always kept a dozen Haymakers stashed away in my streamer box for days when the fish get a little snippy about actually consuming my bigger flies and I have resorted to the old bait and switch with regularity as the need arises, but this specific instance is not the only place this pattern has proven to be useful.
While non-descript is usually a term I look on as a slam, the very nature of this pattern makes it pretty versatile in a wide variety of fishing situations. I have since used this subtle little pattern in lakes and streams in addition to bigger rivers. I often fish it by itself and let the fish decide what they want it to be. The smaller size coupled with a relatively bulky profile can allow it to cross over for a stonefly, a dragonfly, a leech, a smaller baitfish and God knows what else. I have fished it straight up as a nymph under an indicator with split shot and the whole works as well as as a single streamer fished solo. I really give little thought to what the fish ultimately have decided it represented to them, but instead concern myself with the fun I have catching them. This pattern has caught trout, sunfish, bass and even smaller pike for me over the years and as I look back on it, has earned more real estate in my fly box than I ever guessed it would. While the original version was tied in black as I’ll show here, I have experimented a bit with other colors as well. Olive, gold and brown have all produced fish as well, but the black version has truly become my favorite and my sort of secret go to pattern when things get sketchy. I have always hated the old question: “If you only had one fly?” but if I had to answer it, the Haymaker just might get the nod. It’s easy and cheap to tie, casts well, sinks readily and is very versatile in a variety of fishing situations and above all else, it keeps me from fishing those dang rubber leg nymphs that offend my heart and mind. That’s enough for me.

Materials Needed:

Craven’s Haymaker
Hook: TMC 5262 #6-12
Thread: 8/0 UNI, Black
Bead: Gold Tungsten
Weight: .025 Lead Wire for #6, .020 for #8, 10 and 12
Tail: Black Wooly Bugger Marabou
Legs: Medium Round Rubber, Black
Body: Speckled Chenille, Black/Gold
Collar: Black Hen Saddle

Step 1

Place the bead on the hook, mount it in the vise and make about fifteen turns of lead wire around the center of the shank. Break the ends of the lead off cleanly. Shove the lead up into the back of the bead to hold it in place and center it on the hook. Start the thread behind the lead wraps and build a small thread dam from the bare shank up to the diameter of the lead wraps, then continue wrapping a thread base all the way back to the hook bend. Return the thread to the back of the bead, cross-hatching the lead wraps along the way. You can put a drop of head cement on all this thread if you’re into this kind of thing. Leave the thread hanging behind the bead.

Step 2

Pick out a nice, thick marabou feather from the pack. Wet the feather down a bit by wetting your fingers and slicking the fibers back. Tie the butt end of the feather in right behind the bead on top of the shank with a narrow band of tight thread wraps. Wrap back over the feather to the bend, keeping the feather on top of the shank as you go. The tail portion will come out entirely too long, but stay with me here…

Step 3

Wet your fingertips again and slick the marabou down a bit. Measure back from the bend to about a shank length and pinch the feather there. Grab the feather at the pinched point and tear the back end off using your thumbnail. Tearing the fibers down low, rather than cutting them leaves ragged ends that are thicker and fuller than the tips of the feather would be.

Step 4

Cut a three inch length of medium round black rubber leg material and lay the center of its length across the hook just above the hook point. Capture the rubber leg with a tight turn or two of thread right on top of the shank. Pull down on the thread to maintain tension while at the same time pulling the far end of the rubber leg back along the far side of the tail. Wrap back over the rubber leg with the tying thread to the base of the tail, pinning it in place along the high far side of the hook. Leave the thread hanging at the bend and pull the near side leg back along the near side of the tail. I usually hold it slightly low as the thread wrap we are about to catch it with will pull it up and into position. Catch the near side rubber leg with a couple tight wraps of thread right at the base of the tail. The rubber legs should be along the top edges, rather than center of the tail.

Step 5

Strip the fluff off the base of an eight inch length of chenille exposing the center core for about an eighth of an inch. Line this bare core up with the thread and capture it with a couple wraps right above the hook point. Stripping the end of the chenille allows for a tie in with much less bulk than simply tying over the whole chenille strand. Wrap back over the bare core of the chenille right up to the base of the tail, then move the thread forward to just behind the lead wraps.

Step 6

Bump the thread one more turn forward onto the very back of the lead wraps. Cut another three inch long length of rubber leg material and catch the center of its length under a couple stacked wraps of thread. Pull the front end of the rubber leg toward you with your material hand and make two stacked wraps going diagonally from the front to the back of the leg and from the near to the far side of the hook, forming an X-wrap as you would tie in a spinner wing. Move the thread forward to about three eye lengths back from the bead and tie in another section of rubber leg as you did the first, X-wrapping it into place on top of the shank.

Step 7

Begin wrapping the chenille at the bend of the hook right up tight to the back of the first set of rubber legs. Pull the legs back and make the next turn of chenille immediately in front of the legs, pinning them in place with this wrap. Wrap the chenille forward to the back of the second set of legs, make the next turn right up snug to the front of them, and then continue wrapping right up to the back of the bead. Tie the chenille off at the back of the bead. Clip the excess chenille flush and make a few thread turns in the neck area behind the bead to smooth things off a bit.

Step 8

Select two wide hen saddle feathers that have fibers that are about a half shank long. Stack the feathers one on top of each other so they appear as one unit and strip the fluff from their bases. Re-stack the feathers inside to outside, just like they came off the hide. Preen the fibers toward the butt ends, against their grain to expose a short length of the tip.

Step 9

Lay the tips of the feathers in just behind the bead with the insides of the feathers toward the hook shank. Tie the tips down just behind the bead with a tight, narrow band of thread. Make sure to anchor them tightly here, as we are going to fold the feathers and that process pulls and tugs a bit.

Step 10

Clip the excess tips of the feathers flush and make a couple wraps to clean up over the stubs. Note the thread “neck” behind the bead in this image. This will be the base over which we’ll wrap our hackle, so we want it to be relatively smooth. Pull up on the butt ends of both feathers so they are taut and even and grab them in your hackle pliers. Lick the thumb and forefinger of your material hand and close them in a circle like you’re signing “ok” around the feathers. Pull the hackle pliers forward while simultaneously drawing your fingers to the rear of the hook, sliding the hackle fibers between your fingertips and sweeping them to the rear of the stem. You may need to do this a couple times to crease the fibers in place. You ultimately want the fibers themselves to form a V shape, with the center stem of the feathers being the bottom of the V.

Step 11

Make a turn around the hook, sweeping the fibers back and out of the way as you come around. Make one more turn, again, holding the fibers back after this turn, then tie the bare stem of the feathers off with a couple firm wraps of thread. Clip the excess.

Step 12

Preen all the fibers to the rear of the hook with your material hand, taking care to keep them in place and completely encircling the hook. Make a few turns against the front edge of the hackle collar to lean the fibers back a bit, then whip finish and clip the thread.

Step 13

Lift all four ends of the last two sets of rubber legs above the hook and trim them all to about a shank length long. Trim the back rubber legs just a bit longer than the tail.

Step 14

Finished Fly.