Kitchen spoons in a fly box? by Joseph Lloyd

Sometimes, it’s the small things that matter. My wife keeps a cup of spoons on the kitchen counter. It sits next to the coffee pot, under the spice cabinet, and right next to a glazed pottery piece that holds all the most-utilized utensils such as spatulas, wire whisks, and tongs. The spoons don’t live in the silverware drawer like all the other mundane kitchen paraphernalia. Nope, the spoons live where we can easily reach them.


And the idea of it is simply brilliant. A working kitchen needs spoons right? They might be the most used item in our kitchen—they stir coffee, they measure a quick teaspoon for recipes, they stir simmering pots, etc… A spoon is the unsung hero of the kitchen, which is, by the way, the room in our house that sees the most use. Most serious conversations happen in the kitchen, it’s where people usually gather when family or friends come over, and it’s where we share our love of food. Food is a serious matter in our family. And so is fishing.


About two years ago, I caught the fly tying bug and my first attempts were just terrible. They produced ugly and inefficient flies that never caught anything. Fortunately, and just like my cooking, I got better at making recipes that caught fish and tasted better.


There’s a couple flies that I consider my “spoon” in my fly box; they are the ones that came together with some simple elegance, tasted pretty good to the smallmouth that I found myself targeting this past fall, and are the first thing I reach for when I hit the Kentucky streams and creeks I’ve been fishing.


The first was a simple marabou streamer tied in olive, first on a size 12 or 14 hook and I tied in a hot spot of died orange calf tail near the hook. It proved to be an enticing morsel when thrown around structure like a submerged log or rock line, or danced across a deeper bucket. Originally inspired by our very own JP Ross, from his book Adirondack Flies, Vol. 1, Hot Cone Olive Muddler Minnow, I’ve since dialed in his recipe and transformed it a bit for optimum success for my own warm water streams.


Here’s my recipe for the olive and orange streamer.

Hook: Umpqua model U301 or U302, size 8 or 10 for the larger streamers

Or a Daichi style 1710 (wet/nymph hooks) size 14 for a bit smaller, but still effective, streamer.

Body: Olive Marabou (downy parts removed or trimmed)

Head: dyed orange calf tail (MFR unknown) tied in just behind the hook and extending about 1/3 length of the streamer.


My second pattern that I was able to dial in this fall might have been my most successful smallmouth streamer and it’s what I suggest as the first fly to be tied on (when asked). It’s a streamer/soft hackle hybrid and has put the biggest fish to hand over the last couple of months.



Hook: Umpqua model U301 or U302, size 8 or 10 for the larger streamers

Body: Whiting Farms Bird Fur (dyed Heron Grey).

Head: Wapsi barred mallard flank dyed fluorescent orange)


I’ve since learned to tie in about 12-15 lead wire wraps over the thread base—this gets the streamer down quicker and coupled with the technique of stripping it in 3-6” strips , it has proven to be quite effective. Perhaps the orange mallard hackle gets their attention but the properties of the bird fur trailer are quite active, giving it the sense of a small baitfish.


As you can see I finished both a larger amount of thread wrap to form the head and coated them with a Loon Clear Coat finish which have given them some durability in the water. 


The previous two flies were tied and designed to be used on a 3 weight fiberglass rod. They aren’t too heavy and could be utilized by a four or five weight rod without much complaint. I might suggest that you look into purchasing an indescribably enjoyable 3 wt glass rod from this website. The presentations can be as delicate or plodding as one wishes and the 7’ length allows me to fish under the canopy of overreaching trees and other technical difficulties. It is a simple joy to cast as it becomes a natural extension of your arm and offers the sensitivity to land a 12” smallmouth on 5x tippet.


I asked my wife about the inspiration for her cup of spoons last night and she thought it a very odd question. But then again, I'm a pretty odd guy. She had no idea where or when the idea hit her but she's been doing it a long time. Who knows where inspiration hits or why but I think that's important to act on those epiphanies.  Every fly tier and fisherman relies on a few go-to patterns and every kitchen cook or chef have their tricks, too. For what it's worth, these are mine



***thank you to Dean Myers,JP Ross, and Pat Dorsey for the inspiration and conversation to make these better (and functional) flies!