Monkey hair was used somewhat often in years past but has been for all practical purposes, unavailable in recent times. Silver Monkey could be any of several Monkey species and was used as a general term.
Years ago, I bought the tying stuff that belonged to a gent who was giving up his tying. He had some fantastic materials, books and other things. Since everything was in boxes, all I knew was that I was getting full value in the books, the boxes of feathers and fur were surprises and a bonus really. Since he had been a Salmon and Steelhead Tyer in addition to Trout, he had collected some special materials. In one of the boxes were a few pieces of Silver Monkey fur. I don’t use it for my general tying but, thought you might like to see some as used by DeFeo in his Silver Monkey.
I have included a few flies that are the same pattern with the exception of the wings. Still other hair could be used but, I find that Bobcat is the best substitute on this pattern. I even tried Deer hair with less than wonderful results although, it may fish well. My point beyond showing you the Monkey wings is to get you thinking where substitution is concerned. Just because a pattern calls for hair X doesn’t mean it won’t work with some similar hair.
When substituting materials, we need to take into account what the given materials behave like IN the water. Many of the thin solid hairs like the Silver Monkey, Bobcat, Fox, Wolf, Squirrel tail and other fine textured hairs are very mobile and soft in the water unlike bucktail and other thicker hairs. So, when a productive pattern calls for a specific material, we can’t just tie on the closest thing just because it looks good. It may not fish well.
I am also showing you a different method for winging a hair wing fly with a bullet proof wing. This is the method that has become known as the Ed Hass Method. Ed was a reclusive guy who lived in California and in later years, on the Forks of the Salmon River. There was a wonderful article on Ed in the premier issue of Art of Angling Journal published by The Complete Sportsman. The second issue contained the method Ed employed in the flies he tied commercially.
Ed had hooks made to his specs and are no longer available but, this wing will work on any loop eye hook. He spread the return wire a little so the tie in area of the wing rested between the wires rather than on top. He also tied the wing in tips forward and the wing was stood up in the last step. This method makes the wing impossible to pull off and allows for a very small head.
Let’s get tying!
Silver Monkey, Charles DeFeo, tied by Ronn Lucas, Sr.
Hook: Partridge Salar REF CS14/1B #3 or choice.
Thread: Black UNI-Thread 8/0.
Tag: Silver oval UNI-Tinsel.
Butt: Black Ostrich.
Body: Flat silver UNI-Tinsel.
Rib: Silver oval UNI-Tinsel.
Throat: Grizzly hackle barbs.
Wing: Under wing is a strand of yellow under a strand of green UNI-Floss topped with a bunch of Silver Monkey hair.
Cheeks: Optional short JC nails, I elected not to put them on this fly.
1. Since the wing is tied in first in the Hass method, we must determine how long the finished wing should be. I use a pair of calipers to measure the size. First, I temporarily tie in the tail and take the measurement.
2. Insert the hair between the wires and secure temporarily so you can transfer the measurement.
3. Tie in the wing and advance the thread in close turns to the rear of the fly.
4. Tie in tag.
5. Tie in the tail.
6. Tie in the Ostrich.
7. Apply the butt. Trim the tag tinsel close to the butt and trim the ends of the butt.
8. Tie in the silver oval tinsel rib.
9. Advance the thread in close flat turns to the front of the fly but well behind the eye all the time binding the waste end of the rib along the far side of the hook. Pinch the flat mylar tinsel with the thumbs and index fingers held together to stretch and break the mylar. This will give you a tiny tapered bit of tinsel to tie in as shown.
Flat mylar tinsel can be cut at an angle to provide a small tie in area and that works well enough. There is another method for achieving much the same thing. Pinch the flat mylar tinsel with the thumbs and index fingers held together close as you can get them. Stretch and break the mylar. This will give you a tiny tapered bit of tinsel to tie in as shown. The further away your fingers are, the longer the tapered end will be.
10. Apply the flat tinsel as shown.
11. Wrap the rib in five even turns.
12. Tie in the two lengths of floss as shown. These can be tied in one at a time or both at once.
13. Tie in the hackle barbs as shown.
14. Pull the wing back and apply the head.
15. The finished fly.
Here are more variations:
Silver Monkey – Bobcat
Silver Monkey – Deer Hair
Silver Monkey – Gray Fox
Happy Trails! ~ Ronn Lucas, Sr.