Project Description

Platte River Special

Pattern Description:

The Platte River Special is perhaps one of the most imitated flies in existence. I have seen well over a dozen variations on this pattern and with good reason. The original version is, to put it plainly, ugly as can be. I used to get orders for this fly back when I was a kid from a bunch of old guys who traveled to distant, foreign waters to trout fish. The Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River in Wyoming was their destination. It’s funny to think about how far away that seemed back then. It’s also funny how the crowds are just finally discovering the North Platte as a new fishery! At any rate, the PRS has always been a go-to pattern for North Platte anglers and has taken more than its share of fish on other waters as well.
I believe this pattern imitates a small brown trout. It can be stripped slow or fast like a streamer and even, as originally used, with a dead drift. A lot of those old guys used spinning rods with a piece of solder wire for a weight and their flies on a short dropper. I remember pictures of massive trout taken back in the day. It quickly became apparent that this fly works!
The pattern I present here is not the original. I have dressed the pattern up a bit and it appeals much more to me in this form. The original fly had no body, splayed brown and yellow saddle hackle wings and a bushy, dry fly style collar of brown hackle. I have added the red throat, for a splash of color to imitate gills, the furnace hackle outside wings to mimic the lateral line of a small baitfish and a vinyl wrapped body to increase durability. The vinyl over body lets the tinsel underbody show through for a slight hint of flash. Ive also added a two-color collar, merely to break with tradition and add a little piece of my own. This new version reminds me a lot of the classic feather wing streamer patterns of the old days and is probably as close as Ill ever get to fishing them. I admit it is just simply more rewarding to tie a pretty fly, even if it is more work than the ugly ones. After all, fish eat worms too.

Materials Needed:
Hook: TMC 5262 #2-8
Thread: 6/0 UNI Thread, red
Overbody: Gold Vinyl Tubing
Underbody: Silver Mylar Tinsel, Large
Throat: Red Darlon
Wing: Two Yellow Chinese Neck Feathers, Inside of Two Furnace Chinese Neck Feathers
Collar: Yellow Chinese Neck Hackle Behind Two furnace Chinese Neck Feathers

Step 1

Start the thread about three to four hook eye lengths behind the hook eye and wrap a thread base back to the bend.  Return the thread to the starting point

Step 2

Tie in the vinyl tubing at the starting point with several tight turns of thread.

Step 3

Stretch the tubing as you wrap back over it to the bend of the hook.  Make a narrow band of thread over the tubing at the bend and return the thread back to the starting point again.

Step 4

Tie in an eight-inch length of mylar tinsel with the gold side facing out.  The mylar is silver on one side and gold on the other.  You want to tie it in with the gold side up so when the tinsel is folded at the bend it will wrap with the silver side up.

Step 5

Wrap back over the tinsel in tight concentric turns all the way back to the hook bend.  Return the thread to the starting point.

Step 6

Wrap the tinsel forward from the bend to the starting point with slightly overlapping turns and tie it off at the starting point.  Clip the excess tinsel and build a smooth thread base over the stub end.

Step 7

Wrap the vinyl tubing forward over the tinsel to the starting point with touching, but not overlapping, wraps.  Tie off the tubing at the starting point and clip the excess.

Step 8

Take a single strand of Darlon from the package and double it over.  Cut the looped end so you have a single, double thickness strand.

Step 9

Hold the Darlon under the shank with its center at the starting point.  Tie the Darlon down with a couple wraps of thread.

Step 10

Pull the front end of the Darlon clump back under the back end and secure it in place with a couple more tight turns of thread.  Build a smoothly tapered thread base over the butt ends of the Darlon.

Step 11

Pull the Darlon taut under the hook and clip it at an angle.

Step 12

The throat should be about one quarter of a shank length long.

Step 13

Select two matched (same size and shape) yellow Chinese neck feathers.

Step 14

Stack the two yellow feathers inside to inside and measure them against the shank.  The feathers should be about one and a half shank lengths long.  Clip the butts of the yellow feathers at this point and strip their bases to expose the quill for a length of about three eye lengths.  Set these feathers aside for the time being.

Step 15

Select two matched furnace feathers from the other neck.  You want these feathers to be slightly wider than the yellow feathers.

Step 16

Place one furnace feather on each side of the paired yellow feathers, matching their length.  You should now have one brown feather facing in and one yellow feather facing in, on each side of the wing.  Clip the butts of all four feathers so the exposed stems are only about two eye lengths long.  Place the stems so they are all parallel on top of the hook shank at the front end of the body.

Step 17

Wrap back over the stems as you pull up on the feathers to keep them centered.  Wrap all the way back to the starting point over the feather stems.

Step 18

The completed wing assembly should look like the photo.  Make sure the feathers are all aligned and have not twisted.  If they have, untie the wing and re-attach it, taking more care this time.

Step 19

Select a yellow hackle feather that has barbs that are almost as long as the shank of the hook.  Preen the fibers back from the tip to expose the stem as shown.  Peel the fibers and fluff from the base of the feather while you’re at it.

Step 20

Preen the hackle fibers back from the tip of the feather so you have a definite division point between the tip and the rest of the feather.

Step 21

Tie the feather in at this point at the base of the wing.  Make sure to tie the feather in tightly.  Clip the tip of the feather and build a smooth thread base over the stub.

Step 22

Pull the feather up above the hook and fold the hackle fibers to the backside of the quill.  Wet your fingertips slightly and pinch the feather in front of the quill while sliding the fibers to the backside.  You may need to wiggle the fibers up and down to crease them so they stay on the backside.

Step 23

Wrap the feather forward about halfway up the bare space at the front of the hook.  Continue to sweep the fibers back as you wrap.  Tie the feather off about two eye lengths back from the hook eye and clip the excess.

Step 24

Repeat the above process with two brown feathers.  Lay the feathers one on top of the other (inside to outside) and preen the fibers down from the tip.

Step 25

Tie both feathers in at the front edge of the yellow hackle.  Again, be sure to secure the feathers tightly.  Clip the tips of the brown feathers off and build a smooth thread base over the stub ends.

Step 26

Bring the thread up to the very back edge of the hook eye and let it hang there for the time being.

Step 27

Fold the furnace hackle feathers as you did the yellow.

Step 28

Wrap the brown feathers forward, sweeping them back as you go.  Tie the brown feathers off at the back edge of the hook eye, clip the butts and build a small, smooth thread head over the butts.  Whip finish the thread and clip.

Step 29

Finished fly, Side View.  Note the length of the wing and throat, as well as the length of the hackle collar.

Step 30

Finished Fly, Top View.  Note the wings appear as a single feather.  All the feathers are parallel and in line with the hook shank.

Step 31

Finished Fly, Bottom View.  Note the length of the hackle collar as well as the length of the throat.