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Ard 11-01-2012 05:35 PM

Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
I am well aware that I would possibly have caught more trout over the past 30 or so years were it not for one thing. That thing is that I fell hard for feather wing streamers and fishing with them as my primary plan on the rivers and creeks where I spent my time. There were those interludes with dry fly casting when it was quite clear that it was going to be the order of the day and I not only enjoyed my dry fly fishing; I became quite good at it. However, due to my affair with the 'Big Wets', I did not follow any of the trends that came along most of which promised more catching. I never fished a dry with a nymph dropper or any kind of an indicator, go figure........ I just kept throwing those streamers for about 3/5th's of my fishing.

Living in North Central Pennsylvania for many years I learned that there were year round fishing opportunities within my reach. Considering that during the period of time 1970's - 2004, there were 4 very distinct seasons of weather in that part of the country and the dry fly season occupied the minority of the fishing calender. The allure of those pretty flies and the promise of maybe a big fish grabbing them was the Sirens call that beckoned to me. So, tie them and fish then I did. You discover that when you make up a dozen different patterns and load them into a streamer wallet you're going to have to make a decision on which one to try on any given day. Long ago I learned that it was hard to tie an untried pattern to the line when on your last day out you had good results with another fly. But eventually I reached for the 'Nine Three'.

There's a chance that the history behind the name helped with that days choice and so I'll share just a tidbit. The material combination was that of Dr. Hubert Sanborn of Waterville Maine. I am not sure of the year that the man first tied it but I'm thinking Mid 1930's. The story goes that the fly was an un-named Smelt pattern until the originators first fish was caught using it. That fish was weighed at 9 pounds & 3 ounces; a Maine Land Locked Salmon. That was good enough for me and after my first go at using the fly for a full morning I was a believer although I have never caught a fish of such proportions as Dr. Sanborn's first catch.

The original was tied something like what I display below with a simple silver body with an under-wing of buck tail. The hackles were 5 in number and the green were tied flat wing style, 3 of them. Over these were 2 black saddles tie upright and a pair of jungle cock eyes added as cheeks.

I fished this way for years and caught more trout with the Nine Three than I could ever put a number on, but still the originators giant catch eludes me :) As time marched on and I became more enamored with the fancier dress of many streamers and steelhead patterns I made a few tweaks to the original pattern and refer to it as Ard's Nine Three. I prefer the 4 hackle wing with all tied upright. I moved the sparse buck tail under wing to a long throat, added an ostrich herl butt and some ribbing on the boy. A topping of black crystal flash brought the pattern into the 21'st Century. All of these morphs occurred in 2005 and were made here in my new home so I don't know if it would be any more effective that the old style. It just seemed to me that I had paid my dues over time and ample homage to the original pattern and felt that the old standby need a makeover.

I am not given to the use of indicators with nymphs or beads but the couple of photos below may attest to the lasting effectiveness of the Feather Wing known as The Nine Three.

There have been many, and I continue to reach for the Nine Three on a regular basis. If you've never given the feather wings a go maybe you should. They are part of the heart & soul of fly fishing in America over the past 80 years.


littledavid123 11-01-2012 05:56 PM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
A good post Ard

I would like to see more of our members (including myself) writing informative posts. These are what inspire us to drag out our vises and start whipping up new creations.


stl_geoff 11-01-2012 06:39 PM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
Neat! Thats a good looking fly. I just wish stuff like that would actually catch fish in these parts.

Ard 11-01-2012 06:50 PM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
Thanks Dave,

When I say it's the #1 producer that statement is based on use over time of many classic patterns. My own creation 'The Answer' ruled the roost when speaking Brown Trout from 1997 - 2004 with great catches. It is also true however that during that time I used it exclusively. Since there are no brown trout here I reverted back to a more general use fly that bears resemblance to many juvenile fish here when they are in the fry stage.


---------- Post added at 04:50 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:43 PM ----------


Originally Posted by stl_geoff (Post 495415)
I just wish stuff like that would actually catch fish in these parts.

Hi Greg,

You just tie them on and they will come. The effective use of streamers relies on alot more than luck. I use a strategy that combines line and fly control coupled with a careful approach to that spot that I expect to find a fish waiting for passing prey. The speed at which the minnow is traveling and the direction of that travel has (in my opinion) much to do with results also. I have used these flies and other patterns designed the same way in fishing 12 different States and several Provinces of Canada and enjoyed the fishing / catching very much.

tennessee dave 11-02-2012 07:33 AM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
Great post.

Rip Tide 11-02-2012 09:02 AM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
The 9-3 is actually a great fly for striped bass and the classic was the inspiration for the all flatwing style flies that are now a standard in saltwater fly fishing

Ard 11-02-2012 12:26 PM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
I don't find that surprising at all Paul, just since 2004 I have caught brown - rainbow - brook and steelhead trout on the fly. Silver salmon and Dolly Vardin Char along with a few grayling round out the past 8 seasons.

Maybe you've seen these pictures on some other threads;

I'll stick them on to help the new members and fly fishermen to understand that I don't just tie the flies and tell you to try them, I use them and fish love them. Otherwise I'd try to prefect my style at the bench and frame them.

Just since moving here to AK. I have met a fellow who could tie beautiful Spey flies. One day he called to ask how the fishing was up here in late April. I told him that things were slow and that I had spent almost 4 hours swinging a Sol Duc #2 without a bump. He replied; "You mean you actually fish whit those things"! I didn't know what to say but managed, "well yeah, that's why I make them, what do you use for trout"? He (without hesitation) told me that they would be drifting beads and flesh flies under 'indicators' when he and his buddy came out. We have never fished together.

Readers may as well prepare for a winters worth of Fly Tying because I am definitely a fly fisherman and can catch a fies on anything I make, it's just a matter of style. In essence isn't that what choosing to be a 'fly fisherman' is about, a style? Something to set you apart from the masses who crowd the streams on 'Opening Day' fish mongering for those stocked trout destined for high mortality levels? Well then I'll be tying for you and i you really wonder if the flies will work you're welcome to come fishing some time :)

caseywise 11-02-2012 06:02 PM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
looking forward to seeing your flies ard...may inspire me to get my vice out and see what happens;)
(been sitting in my closet for the last year and a half:o)
it used to be therapy for me;)


morayflyfisher 11-03-2012 05:10 AM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);
Great post Ard.

Not something we tie alot of here but will be on the vice and tie up some and post later on.

I know they would work over here.

Ard 11-03-2012 11:22 AM

Re: Number 1 Trout Producing Streamer (for me);

I believe that a large part of the effectiveness of this type of fly is that in many watersheds you are showing the fish something different. Sometimes different can be a good thing. Once you have tied some and you take them to the water, pay close attention to how the fly acts and how much it will resemble a small fish. I find that they are best in moving water, if you use them in Loch's you'll need to figure out the best retrieval style for them. In moving water I fish them to the suspected holding spots and then accelerate the fly a bit so as to not give the fish a good long look at the fly. The reasoning behind this is to trigger the urge to pursue the fly but not allow time to discern that it is a fake.


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