Picabo Angler

Pee-Ka-Boo is a Native American word meaning "Shining Waters."

Picabo Angler is a destination: A full-service fly shop & outfitter located on the banks of world-renowned Silver Creek

June 26TH Double R Fishing Report

Thursday, June 26, 2014:

    This blog entry should be of interest to those spring creek anglers who tie their own flies and are looking for a new weapon for finicky trout.


As the Stream Keeper for that private stretch of Silver Creek which runs through the Double R Ranch in Picabo, Idaho,, I am privileged to be able to fish this fly fishing Mecca 90 days each season.   There almost never is a session on Silver Creek during which I neglect to tie on a Hatch Matcher dry fly at some point during the prevailing mayfly hatch.    The Hatch Matcher is truly a heritage pattern, one which has inextricably fallen into disuse despite its effectiveness as both a dun and a spinner imitation.  The Hatch Matcher is said to have been invented by noted Catskill fly tier Harry Darbee in the 1930s.  Why it fell from favor in that locale is hard to determine at this late date; perhaps this extremely delicate pattern was not suited to the freestone streams of upstate New York, or maybe the Hatch Matcher was a casualty of the dominance of the Catskill convention of dry fly design.  One wonders why the Hatch Matcher never became established on the limestone spring creeks of Pennsylvania.  In any event, the Hatch Matcher became a trusted fly on Silver Creek when Dick Alf gave the pattern its western introduction at his Sun Valley fly shop in the 1960s.   Ask any old codger and he will tell you that Hatch Matchers could be found next to Pete Hide “flymphs” in his fly box.   

I have fished the Hatch Matcher with great success on other western spring creeks, including Armstrong Spring Creek, O’Dell Spring Creek and Milsinek Spring Creek.  Trout eagerly take the Hatch Matcher in the calmer stretches of tail waters such as the Missouri and on Yellowstone area lakes such as Hebgen and Ennis. 

 The Hatch Matcher is fairly simple to tie once you master a few techniques which may be new to you.  It is a delicate, elegant tie created from just two materials.  The forked tail, extended body and wing are fashioned from a single mallard flank feather.  Back in the day, the fly was tied in various sizes using natural mallard flank feathers and colored streamside with Panatone pens to match the prevailing hatch.  Nowadays, a wide range of commercially dyed mallard flank feathers and thread of varying colors are available to the tier.  The creative tier can also incorporate a variety of other bird feathers into Hatch Matchers, such as the white breast feathers of Wood Duck or Gadwall drakes for small Tricos and PMDs.  The authentically tied Hatch Matcher involves a body of tying thread matching the mallard flank feather.  The pattern calls for an upright hackle collar fore and aft of the wing, however, one can also apply hackle in the parachute style if the feather’s stem is not clipped off.  When production tying, I apply head cement to the tail, extended body and wing of the fly before hackling the batch, in order to make the delicate tail more durable, but one can apply the head cement after a single fly is completed.  

 The completed Hatch Matcher may look a bit oversized in relation to the hook.  Not to worry.  If the hackle is the same size as the hook the fly will tilt backwards, showing fish primarily the forked tail and extended body.  As a fly designer I increasingly am of the view that the vast majority of effective fly patterns feature a component which operates as a trigger, and this is I believe is the effect of the forked tail and extended body.  It is much like the Zelon shuck of the Sparkle Dun or the red floss band of the Royal Wulff.   This characteristic of the Hatch Matcher also serves to make the fly extremely visible to the angler.  The Daiichi 1110 hook may feature a longer shank than a traditional dry fly hook, but it has excellent hooking efficiency and the advantage of an oversized flat eye that makes it easy to attach to tippets too large for a regular dry fly hook with a standard aperture.         

    I no longer apply dubbing over the hook shank as I prefer to keep the fly’s profile as sparse as possible which I feel is a requirement for flies to be effective on spring creeks and still waters.  I use 8/0 Uni-Thread for my Hatch Matchers and have found that this manufacturer’s range of colors is suitable for most mayflies, but sometimes I resort to dubbing or thread from another company.  You can get fancy and apply an over-rib using a contrasting colored thread to achieve the appearance of segmentation.  Rather than whip finishing, I just apply three half hitches and apply head cement right behind the eye, allowing the cement to leach into the thorax for greater durability.  

    Members who are interested in a free one-on-one lesson in tying Hatch Matchers should give me a call or just stop by my trailer on the Double R Ranch.   



  1. Wrap the hook shank with the appropriate colored thread, from the eye down to the bend.  Return the thread to the hook point. 
  2. With your left thumb and forefinger, grasp the tip of a mallard flank feather.  With your right thumb and forefinger, pull back 5 or 6 flues of the feather, creating the extended body.  Let go of your left fingers.
  3. Position the pulled back feather with your right fingers on the hook shank so that the extended body begins right at the hook point.  Switch to your left fingers, maintaining tight pressure.   Grasp the thread bobbin and attach the extended body with or 4 firm thread wraps.  
  4. While keeping the extended boy under tension, wrap the thread back and forward to create a thread body of uniform thickness.
  5. Grasp the butt ends of the feather; raise the ends straight up.  Wrap the thread in front of the butt end to elevate the wing.  Trim off the butt of the feather, leaving the wing.
  6. To create the forked tail, first open a pair of sharp fine scissors.  Poke the bottom scissor through the outside edge of the “fan” (closest to you) and separate two flues (one flue for flies that are size 18 and smaller).Poke the top scissor through the outside edge of the “fan” farthest from you.  Slide the tips of the scissors down to the base of the flues and snip off, creating a forked tail.
  7. Trim the forked tail to your preferred length, generally half the length of the hook shank. Behind the wing, tie in an appropriate colored saddle hackle, curved side facing forward.  Apply one wrap of hackle behind the wing and two wraps in front of the wing.  Tie off. 
  8. Apply head cement to the forked tail and extended body to make the fly more durable.



Blue Winged Olive Hatch Matcher 

Hook:        Daiichi 1110, sizes 16-24

Thread:     8/0 Uni-Thread: Olive, Olive Dun, Light Olive, Rusty Dun

Body:         Mallard flank feather, dyed in shades of olive

Hackle:      Whiting 100:  Light, medium or dark dun


Pale Morning Dun Hatch Matcher 

Hook:         Daiichi 1110, sizes 16-20

Thread:      8/0 Uni-Thread:  Light Cahill or Yellow

Body:          White breast feather from Wood Duck/Gadwall drake; or yellow dyed mallard flank feather

Hackle:       Whiting 100:  Light or medium dun


Callibaetis Hatch Matcher: 

Hook:           Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-20

Thread:        8/0 Uni-Thread:  Tan, Gray or Iron Gray

Body:            Mallard flank feather: natural or dyed dun or tan

Hackle:          Whiting 100:  Grizzly 


Brown Drake Hatch Matcher 

Hook:             Daiichi 1110, sizes 12-14

Thread:          8/0 Uni-Thread:  Dark brown or Camel 

Body:              Mallard flank feather: dyed medium or dark brown

Hackle:           Cree, furnace or Whiting 100 brown dyed grizzly


Female Trico Hatch Matcher 

Hook:              Daiichi 1110, sizes 20-24

Thread:           8/0 Uni-Thread:  Olive

Body:               White breast feather from Wood Duck or Gadwall drake

Hackle:            Whiting 100:  Grizzly


Male Trico Hatch Matcher 

Hook:               Daiichi 1110, sizes 20-24

Thread:            8/0 Uni-Thread:  Black

Body:                White breast feather from Wood Duck or Gadwall drake

Hackle:             Whiting 100:  Grizzly


Sparkle Trico Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                Daiichi 1110, sizes 20-24

Thread:             8/0 Uni-Thread:  Black

Over Wrap:      Midge Crystal Flash:  Peacock

Body:                 White breast feather from Wood Duck or Gadxwall drake

Hackle:              Whiting 100:  Grizzly


Adams Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                  Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-22

Thread:               8/0 Uni-Thread:  Gray or Iron Gray

Body:                   Mallard flank feather dyed medium or dark dun; quail for smaller sizes

Hackle:                Cree, or blend of brown and grizzly Whiting 100


Mahogany Dun Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                   Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-16

Thread:                8/0 Uni-Thread:  Dark Brown or Camel

Rib:                       Copper Crystal Flash (optional)

Body:                    Mallard flank feather dyed medium or dark brown

Hackle:                 Whiting 100:  Dark Dun, Black, Brown or Brown Dyed Grizzly


Purple Haze Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                    Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-20

Thread:                 8/0 Uni-Thread:  Purple

Body:                     Mallard flank feather dyed purple

Hackle:                  Whiting 100:  Grizzly


Black Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                     Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-22

Thread:                  8/0 Uni-Thread:  Black

Body:                      Mallard flank feather dyed black; Starling for smaller sizes

Hackle:                   Whiting 100:  Black