Continuing our string of midge patterns designed for clear, cold water, here’s another simple fly that has proven itself on the finicky trout of Pennsylvania’s spring creeks. Created by tier Al Miller, a lifelong angler who passed away in 2008, Al’s Rat is extremely simple and suggestive, as it has to be to fit on such tiny hooks. Miller was a fixture on his local waters and was known as a gentle and generous giant. A plaque on a “springhouse” along the Little Lehigh River in Allentown reads:
Al Miller fished the Little Lehigh everyday for 45 years, while acquiring an unsurpassed knowledge of the river and its fauna. He was a master fly tier, fly fisher, and observer of the natural world. Al’s study of the lives of minute insects and respect of simplicity led him to design the well-known fly patterns Al’s Rat and Al’s Trico. His calm and generous character was as legendary as his profound knowledge for generations along these banks. The Little Lehigh has had no greater friend.
This video, by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, offers step-by-step directions for tying this simple pattern, which requires just two materials. The way Tim creates the tiny tapered body and then adds “microsegmentation” will make all your smaller patterns look better.
Al’s Rat from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.
Hook: Straight-eye dry fly hook (here a Dai-Riki #310), size 20-28.
Thread: Dark brown, 8/0 or 70 denier.
Body: Dark brown tying thread.
Thorax: Natural muskrat.
Note: You can also tie this pattern in green, red, black, and gray.