The Poly Flash Carey Special

The Poly Flash Carey Special is one of the most widely used flies in lakes.

Originally tied for trout in BC lakes, today it is used throughout the western provinces, the Yukon, Alaska and the Northwest Territories.

It can be fished as a wet fly or a streamer and can also be used in rivers and streams.

Everyone should have a few of these in their fly boxes in a variety of colour combinations. These flies work extremely well on grayling in the Yukon.

The Carey is probably one of the easiest flies to tie.

The original pattern uses peacock herl, dubbing or chenille for the body. The hackle is pheasant rump feather, tied back. The tail is pheasant rump feather fibres or none at all.

Ribbing is copper wire or none at all. It can be weighted or unweighted.

Since its creation, there have been endless variations. Fly fishermen will swear by their creation.

I have seen copper wire, flat and oval silver/gold tinsel for ribbing; peacock herl, tinsel, chenille, crystal chenille, yarn and wool for the body; pheasant rump feather, dyed guinea hackle (for small Careys) and even mallard flank feathers for the hackle.

There are dyed pheasant rump feathers available in many colours, too.

Poly flash pearlescent is available in well over a dozen colours. The ones that could be used for the Carey Special are olive, red and yellow. But there may be other suitable colours.

When lightly stretched, this material forms a very thin body which would be good for very small flies. This poly flash is very durable and it catches fish.


Hook: Any 3x long nymph or streamer hook, sizes 2 to 8

Thread: Black UNI-thread 8/0

Tail: About a dozen pheasant rump fibres (dyed olive)

Rib: None

Body: Poly flash pearlescent olive

Wing: None

Hackle: Pair of pheasant rump feathers (dyed olive), tied back


Step 1

Make a good base by wrapping thread over the hook shank.

Tie in about a dozen pheasant rump fibres for the tail.

Step 2

Tie in a piece of poly flash pearlescent olive.

Since this material is very durable, you won’t need copper wire for the ribbing.

Step 3

Wrap the poly flash forward to just behind the eye leaving enough space to tie in the hackle and make a small neat head.

The poly flash, when lightly stretched, compresses into a very thin body.

Prepare a pair of pheasant rump feathers by stripping the fluffy fibres off.

I have selected two equal-sized and stripped feathers.

Step 4

Tie these two pheasant rump feathers in by the tips (concave side facing the body) along the side.

For very large Carey Specials, consider using three feathers.

Step 5

Grab the pair of pheasant rump feathers by the thicker ends with hackle pliers and wind the pair around the hook up to the two bare stems (two turns) and tie off with turns of thread.

For bigger flies, just grip the bare stems with your fingers.

Finish the head with a whip finishing tool and use head cement or lacquer of your choice.

Keep the cutoff part to use as the tail on the next fly.


To maker a smaller head on your fly, hold the feathers with one hand and with the thumbnail and finger of the other hand, apply pressure with your thumbnail in a stripping motion to the thicker end to flatten the stem.

The idea is to flatten the bulky stem that is tied off at the head which will lead to a smaller, neater head.

A salmon fly tier in New Brunswick showed me this trick years ago.

Bruce Ross has been hooked on fly fishing and tying his own flies since the early 1970s and has fished throughout Canada and the US. Contact him at [email protected]

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