By: Frank Day
Now that we've gone over the main structural concepts of the intruder it's time for our final installment; intruder accessories. There's a wide variety of tying products out there that you can add to an intruder to make it unique and truly yours. We will me going over some of the most popular ones used today.
One of my favorite intruder accessories is OPST grizzly saddle hackles. The original intruder tied by Ed Ward had a set of Cree hen hackles tied in tented over the top.(For those who don't know tenting the hackles simply means that they are tied in angled on top of the fly so the two hackles form a sort of roof over the top of the fly.)This goes back to the original "general attractor" idea of the intruder. The tented hackles can represent a multitude of things. They may be the tentacles of a squid or the shellback of a prawn. They could even represent the part marks of a small fish. I particularly like these saddle hackles because they have very soft stems. This makes them not only add an aesthetic element but they also add movement to the fly. They flow with the rest of the materials and don't create an awkward static point within the fly.
Body materials are another area that are open to creative freedom. Typically any sort of reflective material will work. When a reflective material is tied into the space between two shoulders or under a single stage it reflects light back out of the fly. This adds another element of depth to the fly. Most materials are synthetic strips Mylar. One of the more commonly used materials is diamond braid. Flat Diamond Draid , Solid Diamond Braid, and Dyed Pearl Diamond Braid are easily tied in and are available in a wide range of colors to match or contrast whatever color scheme your fly is being tied in. Standard Flat Mylar Tinsel and Holographic Mylar Tinsel are also excellent choices for this. 6-7 strips of Flashabou can also be used for this. Saltwater Flashabou is particularly tough. To ensure these materials don't unravel if they are scored on a rock or fish's teeth there's a number of things you can do to reinforce the Mylar. You can counter wrap with Ultra Wire or you can simply lay down a thin layer of Zap-A-Gap down on the body of the fly before you wrap your Mylar. Being so thin Mylar tinsel is a great way to keep bulk down on your fly or achieve the aesthetic of a slim body if that's what you think looks best.
Eyes are also a great accessory and come in many shapes and forms. There are various dumbbell eyes such as Dazl-Eyes, Real Eyes, and Wapsi Painted Lead Eyes. These are generally used to keel a fly so it orients a certain way. At this point I'd just like to stress how important it is that dumbbell eyes are tied on the UNDERSIDE of the fly. I've often seen them tied on the topside of the shank of a fly that is clearly intended to orient a specific way with grizzly hackles over the top. When tied on top they will make the fly ride upside down. This doesn't necessarily mean it won't catch a fish, but it's not swimming as you intended it to be.
I also think that eyes give the fish a target point within the fly. It gives orientation to your fly and adds another element of life. There are a number of different eyes that can be added to a fly to enhance its realisticness. Jungle cock eyes have been used for a number of years to simulate eyes in flies. When tied in the front they can encourage your fly to take on a baitfish-like look. When tied in the rear station of an intruder they can give your fly a shrimpy or squid-like appearance. Junglecock necks are very diffucult to source and because of this Pro Sportfisher Generation 3 Jungle Cock eyes are some of the best artificial substitutes made.
If you want to take it a bit further there are many realistic eyes that are made. Prosportfisher Tabbed Eyes are some of the best around. I think they really shine as squid eyes in the rear of a fly. When reinforced with Prosportfisher UV Thinflex Resin they are very durable and can really bring a fly to life.
Epoxy Monocrab Eyes are also a great addition to a fly if you desire a more prawn or shrimp-like look to your fly. They are also a great addition to any sort of crayfish style bass or trout intruder; remember that intruders aren't just for steelhead!
Prosportfisher Soft Heads are also a great accessorizing eye. When paired with appropriately sized 3-D Molded Eyes or Mirage Dome Lure Eyes to fit and a coat of uv resin for strength they are one of the best finishing touches for any fly intended to be a more baitfish style pattern. If you desire a heavier version of your fly, tying with a Flymenfishing Co. Fish-Skull-Head is a great choice. They come in a wide range of colors and also are designed to help keel your fly.
Beads and cones are also great additions to both shank and tube intruder flies. Prosportfisher Procones and Flexibeads are great finishing touches to a fly and are extremely durable. Cones and beads are functional as well aesthetically pleasing. They finish a fly off and give it a clean look. If you have a bulky head on your fly a cone or bead is a great way to hide that. They also add an element of durability to your fly. With a cone or bead up front if your fly swings or is stripped back up through rocks your materials see less abuse. If you have a Schlappen or Guinea Hackle collar on the front of your fly for drafting, a cone or bead forms a shield in front of it and keeps the bottom from chewing it up before a fish can. There is also the added visual element of the hot spot when using a fluorescent colored cone or bead. Many different fish seem to key in on that bright spot in front of the fly. The egg stealing appearance seems to trigger aggression through a variety of salmonids.
That about covers the standard range of common intruder accessories. I hope this was informative and gave a bit of insight into tying intruders. As always if you had any questions you can reach is by email at email@example.com or give us a call at 800-266-3971. Now go sit down and tie yourself an intruder or two!