The Heater comes from the vise of Frank Smethurst of Telluride, Colorado. Frank is the Colorado manufacturer’s representative for Scott Fly Rods, Korkers Wading Boots, and Brookside Flies, to name a few. He has been a guide for several years in the Gunnison area of southwestern Colorado and has a variety of guide-style flies to his credit. Frank has also been a pioneer in chasing roosterfish off the coast of Mexico and wrote a feature article in ‘Saltwater Flyfishing’ magazine relaying his adventures. He’s a truly nice guy with an unmatched passion for the sport. He keeps several great little fishing secrets up his sleeve, so if you ever corner him, be sure to ask specific questions!
Frank shared the story of the Heater with me a few days ago. It seems he often had fish randomly eating his client’s orange strike indicators on tough days. Frank’s powers of reason overtook him and he decided he needed some flies with more orange in them.
Now, Frank’s style of tying can best be classified as “whatevers handy and will do the job” and the disaster area he calls a tying desk gives Type A personalities, like me, nightmares, but I have to admit, with the Heater, he really hit a home run. Common materials like pheasant tail, peacock herl, copper wire and egg yarn were collected into one of the most exciting combinations I’ve seen in a long time. Frank readily admits this fly has a mixed genealogy. Remnants of the Halfback, Tellico and 20 Incher Stone can all be seen in the Heater. A combination of these flies is sure to be a winner and while I have yet to wet a Heater, I can assure you this fly will be a big hit.
Frank ties his Heater in a variety of colors. His favorite version is orange, closely followed by chartreuse and yellow. All the other parts remain the same; only the color of the egg yarn is changed. I suppose you could mix and match the colors of the abdomen and thorax to create a pattern for off-color water or to match a specific insect as well.
Frank also freely changes the pattern according to his whim or material availability, (whatever is in within reach, I mean, the guy’s arms are only so long!). I have included a couple color variations at the end of the directions that include both the palmered thorax version as well as a folded partridge leg rendition. Frank considers the bead optional but likes to weight the fly with lead wire either way. I have presented the pattern in a bead head version here, feel free to omit it if you like.
Crank up the Heater this winter in preparation for spring run-off and the salmon fly hatch. This pattern is a sure winner. Personally, I can’t wait to pull the Heater on a tough fish!