Materials for Tying Intruder Style Flies

First, I have to start by saying that many of the so called “intruders” you see today are spin-offs of the classic intruder pattern created and popularized by the likes of Ed Ward, Jerry French, and Scott Howell to name a few. I like to call these flies, Intruder Style flies since they all vary in some form from the original Intruder.

I don’t fish a ton of Intrduer style patterns but when I do, it is usually for winter steelhead and Alaska Kings. Much of the time this would be in high off-color water and moderate flows, in situations when I need a fly with a big profile and some wiggle! Since I just got done whipping up a few for Alaska Kings, I thought I would share a few of the materials I like to use in my Intruder style patterns…

Rob Russell inspired Intruder

Materials that look fishy…

Shanks: Most tyers use hook shanks, waddington shanks, and tubes for thier intruders. I personally like to rig my Intruders much like the originals and therefore use a shank and then drop a stinger hook out the back using jumction tubing and a non-slip loop securing my stinger hook (Owner SSW Needle Point #1-2). Some favorties for this style of rigging…..The Fly Shop’s 8774 #2/0, great and cheap for cutting! If you are really looking for big, long shanks than Alec Jackson Spey Hooks in #3/0. Scott Howell also has his own line of shanks that are nice and heavy. If you plan on tying the standard shank/stinger style, most like Waddington Shanks in 35-45mm.

Scott Howell Steely shanks left, 35mm Waddington center, #3/0 AJ right

Eyes: I like heavy lead eyes to help get these flies down fast. Other options for tubes include cones, turbo cones, discs, etc… Almost all mine have XL lead eyes!

Butt: Basically something in the round. I like to use medium carded chenille in a variety of colors and another good choice is a dubbing ball of Ice Dubbing or similar. This is to help prop-up the tail of ostrich or hackle.

Eyes: Many of my Intruder style flies have a lot of Rob Russell inspiration so I like to keep it classy and use Jungle Cock eyes. Yes, the fish care and I would not catch a thing without them! or is it that it just looks damn cool! Another option that looks good and doesn’t break the bank is Golden Pheasant Tippets.

Tail: 10-12 piece of Ostrich with a few strands of flash.

Lagartun Mini Flat Braid

Body: I like to keep the bodies slim to help the fly sink faster. I also like flash so here are some options. Edge-glo. It looks cool and almost looks kinda glo-in-the-dark. Great for Kings! Flashabou: Great for sparse, flashy bodies. My Go-to: Lagartun mini flat braid. This stuff has a flashy look, comes on a spool, and looks killer with a hackle through the body!

Body Hackle: Optional, but Hareline’s Strung Chinese Saddle Hackle is tough to beat. I also like bright, strong contrasting colors.

Collar(Profile Helper): Simple dubbing loop spun with a tiny amount of dubbing to create small dubbing ball and spun hair. I really like Scott Howell’s dyed raccoon as it is as close to polar bear as one can find. Other good options are Arctic Fox tail, deer hair, or bucktail. This is key to getting that large profile look and to keep your rhea or ostrich from collapsing in the currents.

Collar(Where the wiggle happens): Ostrich in a dubbing loop. There are other options such as amherst tail and rhea but ostrich hands down give the most movement. Spin in a dubbing loop and wrap in front of coon. You can also add in some flash, hackle tips, amherst tail, or anything else in front of the ostrich for different looks. Image

Collar(optional, for looks): For a little cleaner look. Wrap a guinea hackle or dubbing loop of rabbit or arctic fox. This will also help to boost the look of hackle tips for a final wing.

Wing: I add the wings in front of the lead eyes before he hook eye. This helps to keep the wing propped up. I usually like to add a few strands of Angel Hair or Flashabou under 2 Grizzly Hackle tips. 1 tied on each side with a “tented” look for more movement. Yes, the ones that all the chics and Steven Tyler were buying up to put in their hair!

There are a bunch of different tying styles for the Intruder style fly and many more materials to choose from. I just highlighted some of the materials I like to use on my Intruders. There are lots of substitute materials out there as well. If ones was to go buy all the materials I mentioned in a variety of colors, I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost you $300-400 or more. Use what you have and be creative. Some of my best flies have been created when i had to substitute materials and tie something a little different. One of the coolest things about the Intruder style fly is what is no right or wrong way to tie one which leaves more room for the mind to imagine and create an intruder style your own!

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2 Responses to Materials for Tying Intruder Style Flies

  1. Scott says:

    Great write up. I live in the Willamtte Valley and use small intruder style flies a lot for early summer runs when the water is up and has some color. As a bounse I have managed to hook a few springers on these flies as well when steelheading. I really like to invent just like you mention at the end of your article.

  2. bob says:

    Do you have the tying instructions for the Rob Russell inspired intruder that is pictured that you could share with me?

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