A while back Tim Cammisa of Trout and Feather asked if I would like to contribute a guest fly tying tutorial for his extremely popular youtube channel. I of course said yes. I thought a bit about which fly I should tie for the tutorial and picked one I've been meaning to do on my channel for a while anyway. It's funny how our Modern Nymphing films have given people the impression that Lance Egan and I only Euro-nymph. To help dispel this myth I figured a dry fly for the tutorial would be a good addition.
This tutorial brought me back to my first medal experience at the World Championships with Fly Fishing Team USA in Bosnia back in 2015 (you can read my Bosnia recap posts here, here, here, here, and here). I've previously posted a tutorial on the Pliva Perdigon, which was one of the more important nymphs I used during the championship and is a great perdigon when small mayflies are around. However, I tallied the fish I caught in my journal afterward and 45% of my fish during river sessions were caught on dry flies. The Pliva Shuttlecock was one of the primary patterns that accounted for my dry fly caught fish.
Shuttlecocks are a simple dry fly pattern which are very popular in the UK and Europe. I first started fishing shuttlecocks back in 2011 after having a chance to fish with Charles Jardine on the Henry's Fork. He fished a shuttlecock he referred to as the "Stuey". I started tying and fishing his pattern and found it very effective during the baetis hatches I fished during that spring. After that shuttlecocks became a standard pattern style in my box with lots of variations to fish during different hatches.
The magic of shuttlecocks is the way they sit in the water and not on the water. All of the flotation is provided by the cdc wing which is angled over the eye of the fly. This causes the body of the fly to sit below the water while only the cdc floats on top of it. The above and below characteristic makes the shuttlecock a perfect pattern to fish in flatter water when fish are sipping emerging or crippled insects. While the pattern was initially intended as a mayfly imitation, I've caught fish on it during midge and caddis hatches and you can adjust the body materials to whatever color scheme you want.
Many of the patterns locals preferred on Bosnian rivers featured olive bodies. Some had flash or bright green accents. Based on these color schemes I tied the Pliva Perdigon and Pliva Shuttlecock, during practice before the championship, with olive bodies and a chartreuse rib. On the shuttlecock I added a pearl flash tag on the butt of the fly which forms a trigger under the surface film for fish to target given the vertical angle which the fly sits at in/on the water.
The Pliva Shuttlecock has been an excellent pattern for me during spring and fall baetis hatches and is usually the first pattern I reach for during these instances. However, I've caught plenty of fish on it during midge hatches when the naturals were a completely different color and a smaller size so it has fish pulling power at a variety of times. It even was my best pattern during the evening rise on a recent family trip to a high country lake. Give it a try on your local water with a delicate approach and as long as you maintain it with dry fly powder and fish a dead drift it will bring fish to the surface.
Hook: Dohiku 301, Hanak 130, Fasna 120, Orientsun 7214 or other barbless dry fly hook
Thread: 16/0 Veevus Olive Dun or Blue Winged Olive
Flash Tag: Micro-Flashabou
Rib: UTC 70 Denier Fl. Chartreuse
Wing: Grey Olive or Natural CDC
Hi-Vis Wing: Fl. Pink CDC
Thorax: Adam's Gray Super Fine Dubbing
Glue: Loctite Brush-On Superglue
Griffin Ceramic Supreme Bobbin
Dr. Slick Whip Finisher
Dr. Slick Tungsten Carbide Scissors