By Dean Finnerty
Tying the “Intruder” with a homemade shank
Over the last decade the “Intruder” style flies have probably accounted for more spey rod steelhead than any other pattern. There are as many spin-offs of the intruder fly as there are variations of the traditional hair-wing style steelhead flies.
When I was taught to tie the Intruder, we used Mustad 4/0 or 5/0 upturned Atlantic salmon hooks to create the body of the fly. After it came out of the vice, a pair of side cutters was used to cut off the bend and point of the hook. The fly was attached to the leader by running the leader through the eye and then threading a small plastic tube onto the leader. A small “scud” hook was tied to the leader and the plastic tube was the snugged onto the end of the hook shank, placing our hook securely to the butt of the fly. When a fish grabbed, frequently the tubing would slip off the shank and allow the fly to ride securely up the leader via the hook eye.
This kept the fly away from the fish during the ensuing fight and allowed the fly to remain intact for multiple fish. The other advantage to this style of rigging, was it allowed us to fish really large flies, without using injuriously large hooks, thus making release of native fish without large hook injuries a reality. And lastly, this rigging allowed us to change dull, bent or otherwise damaged hooks without discarding a fly that takes a fair amount of time to create.
I learned though that the japan finish on these Mustad hooks would easily rust if placed back in the box while still wet. I lost many of my early intruders to rust stained materials. I needed a less expensive way to tie these amazingly productive steelhead flies without worrying about rust.
Stainless Steel “spinner” wire
I stumbled across the idea of creating my own “shanks” one day while building spinners for my Umpqua Spring Chinook fishing. In a matter of minutes I was able to form .035 stainless spinner wire into various length “shanks”. The below images show the steps. Super easy, super cheap and deadly!
Step by step: