Intruder Flies

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Intruder Flies
Tying The Stinger Fly
Waddington Shanks
Toothy Critter Wire
Gamakatsu Octopus
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Intruder Flies, Scott Howell Signature Series
By: Scott Howell

Green Butt Black Black & Orange Pink & Orange Red & Black
Black & Blue Olive Purple White

It is impossible to start a piece on the Intruder without going into a bit of the history of the fly.  My Signature Series Intruder was not a simple case of sitting down at the vice one evening and creating this revolutionary pattern.  It all started way back in the early 90’s with a circle of guides at a lodge in Alaska.  The first “Intruder-style” fly was the

brainchild of Ed Ward, and was originally designed for king salmon.  This shank-style fly was a solution for creating huge plug-like silhouettes that could simply not be achieved on conventional fly hooks.  While fishing these flies for kings, it was impossible not to notice how well Alaska’s huge rainbows took these large life-like patterns.  And, it didn't take long for the light bulb to go on,  “If these big rainbows can’t resist them, just think of how well they might work for their anadromous cousins (steelhead).”
It was not for another couple months after a grueling summer of guiding that we first got to swim these new patterns in water inhabited by steelhead.  That September, Ed Ward, Jerry French and myself crammed into a truck and headed for BC with my drift boat in tow.  Despite being faced with very low water conditions that trip, we were set on throwing our new big creations.  So, we went against any conventional knowledge of the time, and fished our monstrous concoctions.  Needless to say, the Intruder worked well!  The standout pattern of the trip had to be an olive Intruder-style fly that Ed had created.  At the time, we all thought it looked a lot like a sculpin.  In actuality, I think it was Jerry’s animated description of the fly, way back in one of the guide shacks that summer that fits it best.  With fly in hand, pretending to swim it through the air he said the fish must think it looks like some kind of intruder.   Anyway, it all took off from there.
The next winter, I remember the first day I fished with Ed on the Skagit and he asked me if I was still fishing big flies.  I proudly showed him my newest creation to only have it dwarfed by what I can best describe as a small bird tied to his rod.  From that point on, the Intruder seemed to only get bigger and bigger.  Every fly I tied just seemed to be that much bigger than the last one until one day I couldn’t cast them any more.  I remember a session on the Dundess Run of the Kispiox River, when I conceded that “OK, the fish will eat flies bigger than I can cast.”  I found some kind of peace with that.  It was then that I could go back to the basis of what made the Intruder so effective; a pattern that provides a large silhouette with limited materials so it would sink and swim effectively as well as cast EASILY.
The Intruder has been an ongoing evolution since day one.  The introduction of different materials into the fly’s concept has defined its distinct evolutionary stages.  Some of the first Intruders were simply tied with marabou and were basically large knock-offs of Cook’s Alaskabou Series flies.  I then remember Ed finding an old feather duster at the lodge with these long wispy hackles.  We now know these feathers simply as schlappen but at the time it made our imaginations run.  The first big major change to the Intruder was the introduction of turkey feathers into its design.  By stripping the fibers on the bird’s flank and tail feathers, we were able to create these exceptionally long hackles.  By incorporating these long hackles into the fly, we were able to achieve a huge leggy silhouette that could not be achieved with other conventional materials of the time.  There was even a time when I thought our Intruders would always be tied with turkey feathers.  I was so sure of it, I volunteered many a day at a local bird-butchering yard so I could collect feathers.  I had all the turkey feathers a tier could dream of and was sending feathers to all my friends and stashing away boxes and boxes of them.  About the time I thought I had gathered enough feathers to last all of us a lifetime, Ed started tying with Ostrich.  As you can imagine, that opened a whole new can of worms.  Finding good ostrich feathers for hackling is a whole other story.
Definitely one of the most interesting things about the whole Intruder saga has been the different take each of us has had on the concept.  There is something different and special about each of our styles.  I can still to this day look at one of Ed’s Intruders and know that it is his.  I am sure he would tell you the same of mine.  He would tell you that it is easy to spot one of mine - it is black with a green butt.  Hey, if aint broke, don’t fix it!  All jokes aside, as a guide who works nearly everyday, a lot of my innovative time is over.  I need to have a selection of flies on the river with me that are proven and that I have confidence in.  My clients aren’t paying me good money to go out and experiment.  So, I have basically narrowed my Intruders down to two different styles in an assortment of colors.  One of those stand-by styles is my Signature Series Intruder.  It is an ostrich hackle/ saddle shellback pattern that maintains a large silhouette with a bulky hair color behind the front hackles.  I know I am biased, but to me, it is the fishiest fly I have ever seen swim.  After all these years, I still find myself holding it in the water saying, “Man, I’d eat that.” 
Overtime, the Signature Intruder has become my mainstay for nearly every fishing situation.  Even under normal summer water conditions, I find I can fish this large silhouette in neutral colors and catch fish that are bored of watching the same ol’ Green Butt Skunk swim overhead.  Whether I am trying to pull a fish in cold water or just knowing I am throwing something different when fishing an Intruder, I just simply always fish it with confidence.
When fishing the fly, I have my clients cast slightly upstream and jack a big mend in their line.  This takes all of the initial tension off the fly and allows it to sink closer to fish level.  Just as the line is about to come tight, I have them kick another small mend in, straightening out the little slack line remaining.  I then just have them follow the line around with their rod tip.  It is important to get this second mend in before the line comes tight and the fly starts to swing.  Otherwise, the mend just pulls on the tightened line and lifts the fly closer to the surface.  I am a big believer in not over-mending the line.  Once the fly is fishing, let it fish!
Written by: Scott Howell

Signature Intruder, Green Butt Black



Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078GB Signature Intruder, Green Butt Black 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, Black & Blue


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078BB Signature Intruder, Black & Blue 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, Black & Orange


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078BK Signature Intruder, Black & Orange 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, Olive


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078OL Signature Intruder, Olive 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, Pink & Orange


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078PO Signature Intruder, Pink & Orange 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, Purple


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078PR Signature Intruder, Purple 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, Red & Black


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078RB Signature Intruder, Red & Black 2 3 for $8.25


Signature Intruder, White


Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078WT Signature Intruder, White 2 3 for $8.25


Tying The Stinger Fly

The Stinger Fly has been well proven for winter and summer steelhead, Coho and Chinook salmon. Central to the construction of this fly is the Waddington Shank which was developed to be used with a small treble hooks.  This device became very popular with British Isles Atlantic Salmon anglers. Also evident in  the development of the Stinger is the Intruder style flies developed by Ed Ward, Jerry French and Scott Howell. Ed's flies were tied on cotter pins and the small single hooks were secured to the fly by a piece of clear plastic tubing after the leader was passed through the loop in the top of the cotter pin. Scott Howell's Signature Series Intruders were tied on Waddington Shanks with the hook

attached with a loop of stainless cable.  Hooking to landing efficiency increased greatly when a turned up eye, curved point hook was added.

Pattern: Red Stinger
Shank: 35mm Waddington Shank
Hook: #1 red Gamakatsu Octopus
Wire Loop: 20-pound test Toothy Critter Wire
Tying Cement: Zap-A-Gap water proof super glue
Thread: red 6/0
Butt: pink Estaz
Tail: two red Dyed Grizzly Saddle Hackle
Rear Collar Hackle: orange Schlappen
Rib: none
Body: sparkling wine New Age Chenille
Collar: red Ostrich Mini Spey Plume
Wing: four red Dyed Grizzly Saddle Hackle
Eyes: 5/32" nickel Dazl-Eyes
Head Cement: Anglers Corner Water Base Head Cement

There are many types of materials that have been use to form the "hook-holder-loop", including round mono, flat mono, fly line backing and other brands of of fine cable.
Cortland Toothy Critter Wire has proven to be the easiest to work with and the most resilient and durable after hard use. Because of its fine diameter and pliable nature it is also the easiest material to tie with.

The Stinger looks bulky in the water, but is actually fairly sparsely dressed so that it sinks easily.  Stingers provide a big "shrimpy/squidy" looking target.  As soon as the wet fly leaves the water, all of the water is shed from the sparse material so that the fly is very streamlined to cast.

Place the Waddington Shank in your tying vise. Shown here is a view from the top.

A rotating vise works best for tying "shank" flies. Rotate the jaws so they are facing you. This will give you maximum room around the shank.

Any tying size thread will work. Shown here is 6/0 thread.  Start the thread like you were tying on a hook in the conventional fashion.

Lay down a foundation of thread on the Waddington Shank. Cut a 6" long strand of Toothy Critter Wire and fold it in half, and loop it over the Gamakatsu Octopus hook and through the eye. Tie the doubled wire to the shank full length.  Don't spare the thread wraps.

Fold the wire back down the shank and secure with thread.  The wire can be folded on top of the shank as shown or passed through the eye and tied under the shank.  Coat all the wraps with Zap-A-Gap super glue.  Use Zap-A-Gap very sparingly as it is tremendously strong and will penetrate most fly tying materials.  Remember attaching the wire to the shank forms a critical structural attachment of the hook to the fly.  If the hook comes loose, the fish is lost.

Tie in a length of pink Estaz at the rear of the shank.

Form a ball of Estaz, tie off and trim.

Add two red Dyed Grizzly Saddle Hackle tips.  These tips should reach just beyond the rear of the hook.

Tie in the hackle tips so they are splayed into a "V".

Tie in an orange Schlappen Hackle by the tip.  Use the base of the feather where the barbuals are the longest.  A good place to attach this feather is in the notch in the shank.

Trimming off the tip of the feather will facilitate making smooth, tight wraps with the stem.

Form a collar of long flexible strands.  With the ball of Estaz, hackle tips and hackle collar, you have formed a structure that when wet, approximates the mouth parts, legs and antennae of a prawn or the head and tentacles of a squid.

Tie in a length  of size medium Sparkling Wine color New Age Chenille

Wrap the shank with chenille. Leave enough room to add a collar hackle, wings and eyes. This reflective layer will show through the strands of the collar hackle, which will be added later.

This top view will give you an added perspective on the proportions of the fly at this point.

Tie in a red Ostrich Mini Spey Plume
 by the tip.  Add five to seven wraps as a collar.  More wraps add more bulk and make the fly look bigger, but the added material holds more water and weight while casting.  A sparser collar actually adds more animation to the fly while it is fishing.

When wet and while the fly is fishing under tension from the leader, the collar flows back and surrounds the body of the fly. The collar actually assumes the shape of a squid or prawn.

Four hackle tips are added for a wing. These hackle tip wings are tied in so the flat sides are vertical as in tying a common feather-wing streamer, but they are tied splayed so to give maximum movement when wet.

Add a pair Dazl-Eyes to the under side of the shank. It is easiest to rotate your vise and turn the fly up side down when attaching the eyes.  Use lots of thread wraps in a figure eight pattern.  Use a penetrating coat of  Anglers Corner Water Base Head Cement to secure the eyes and thread.

The eyes are on the under side of the fly, with the eye of the shank facing up. This will counter balance the fly so that the hook rides pointing up, making the fly less prone to snag on the bottom of the river.




Popularized in the British Isles for Atlantic Salmon as a way to construct big flies for use with small treble hooks, Waddington Shanks have found favor among Northwest Steelhead anglers as well.  In the Pacific Northwest fly fishers tend to shun treble hooks in favor of small singles.  Here the hook is rigged with a soft plastic hook holder very much like a tube fly except the leader is passed through the front loop of the Waddington, then along side of the fly and through the hook holder and secured to the hook.  When a fish strikes, the hook detaches itself from the fly denying the fish the leverage of the long shank Waddington to dislodge the hook.  The fly stays on the leader because it is still attached by the front loop. 

Item Description Size Price To Top
343740 Waddington Shanks, 24 pack 15mm  $8.95

343764 Waddington Shanks, 24 pack 25mm  $8.95

349117 Waddington Shanks, 24 pack 35mm  $8.95

344006 Waddington Shanks, 24 pack 45mm  $8.95

344010 Waddington Shanks, 24 pack 55mm $8.95


Cortland Toothy Critter Tie-able Stainless Steel Leader Material

Unknown specie caught with Toothy Critter bite tippet...

Chasing after pike, muskies, bluefish, barracuda, mackerel, Wahoo, sharks and a variety of other sharp toothed fish requires specialized tackle. The best nylon and fluorocarbon leaders are useless against such adversaries unless you use a bite-proof tippet.  Cortland Line Company introduces "Toothy Critter", the newest tiable stainless steel leader material available for fishing.  Aptly named, Toothy Critter is tough as steel (because it is) a leader material that is supple enough for tying all common fly fishing leader knots.  It is tough enough to stand up to the sharpest teeth.  We attached Toothy Critter to IGFA 

rated #20 monofilament and  fluorocarbon tippets using a standard two turn surgeons knot.  Much of our fishing during the five days of testing was with fast sinking lines.  The fish were holding deep among basalt ledges.  Inevitably our flies became snagged periodically and had to be broken off and the leader retied.  Not once did any knot involving Toothy Critter fail.  Every time the leader broke somewhere else.  Another redeeming quality of Toothy Critter is its near invisibility in the water.  During each day's fishing species which didn't require a bite tippet were also encountered.  As an experiment one angler would leave the bite tippet on, the other would snip the bite tippet off.  No difference in the amount of fish caught by either angle was detected.  This material is about the same diameter as monofilament, so it doesn't affect casting or presentation.  If you fish for species with teeth, you will like Toothy Critter.

Toothy Critter Wire

Item Description Size Price To Top
605824 Cortland Toothy Critter, 10 foot coil 20 pound test $7.95


Gamakatsu Hooks

Octopus, Black Chrome Octopus, Red

Gamakatsu Octopus
hooks for
stinger type flies

Octopus, Black Chrome

The sticky sharpness of Gamakatsu® hooks is the result of a patented mechanical needle-honing process developed to make the sharpest hooks possible. And a unique tempering process and high-carbon steel construction ensures superior strength and durability.

Item Description Size Price To Top
02410-25 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, 25-pack, Black Chrome 1 $9.95

02409-25 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, 25-pack, Black Chrome 2 $9.95

02408-25 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, 25-pack, Black Chrome 4 $7.95


Octopus, Red

The sticky sharpness of Gamakatsu® hooks is the result of a patented mechanical needle-honing process developed to make the sharpest hooks possible. And a unique tempering process and high-carbon steel construction ensures superior strength and durability.

Item Description Size Price To Top
02310-25 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, 25-pack, Red 1 $9.95

02309-25 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, 25-pack, Red 2 $9.95

02308-25 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, 25-pack, Red 4 $7.95


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