As we continue to discuss some of the "Universal"
flies for use in Saltwater, Lefty Kreh's Deceiver has to be at the top of the
list. The Deceiver is probably the most widely known and used fly in the "Salt".
Developed in the 1950's for fishing the Chesapeake
Bay in Maryland, Lefty wanted to design a fly that was simple, had a fish shape
and was easy to cast. Here is the address to an actual article that Lefty wrote
about the development of his Deceiver
The Deceiver is actually a style of tying instead
of an actual pattern. The fly consists of a tail of saddle hackle and a full collar
of hair, generally buck tail but calf tail may also be used.
The original pattern was all white with a red head
and had no mylar, flash or peacock herl. Over the years various adaptations of
this fly have come about with the use of various other materials such as Ultra
Hair, flash a bou, crystal flash and mylars.
With this style of tying, The Deceiver can represent
any baitfish from small sand eels to some of the larger off shore baitfish. This
all depends on how the fly is dressed.
By using smaller and narrower tail feathers and
a sparsely tied collar, the fly will have a much slimmer profile, will sink faster
and can represent a wide variety of the smaller profile baitfish. By adding a
tail of longer and wider feathers and a collar that is fuller, the Deceiver represents
a larger profile baitfish.
During the fishing season, the fly will need to
be tied in larger sizes as the season progresses as the baitfish will start maturing
and be of a larger size. Generally the Deceiver is tied in sizes ranging from
1 to 3/0 but again this depends on the baitfish being represented.
The photo for this article is an exact duplicate
of a Deceiver that Lefty sent me and is his favorite way to tie this fly. The
main points are that it has an outside feather on each side that is grizzly, sparse
flash, a red throat to represent gills, no body and eyes. This style can be adapted
to any of the various sizes and color combinations that are used.
Just a side note that popular opinion is that a
fly with gills (throat) and eyes get more strikes than the same fly without these
Some of the better color combinations that are
used are general in nature and then some are very species specific. You will have
to determine what color(s) will work best for you in a given environment.
Here is a listing of some of the better colors
and color combinations:
Chartreuse over white
Chartreuse over yellow
Various shades of green over
Various shades of blue over white
Olive over White
Gray over White
Red over White
Red over Yellow
of green over yellow
The above colors or color combinations are the
general colors that will work in most areas. The specific colors to match a specific
baitfish are too numerous to name, so, if that is your intention, then you will
have to tie the fly with that appropriate colors.
If you use any type of flash in the fly, keep it
The finer hair on the top one third of the buck
tail is generally the best to use as the hair has a smaller diameter and absorbs
water better than the larger diameter hair. The larger hair can be used for a
larger profile fly when you are not interested in the fly have a fast sink rate
or want the fly to remain on or near the surface.
On smaller size Deceivers, calf tail is a good
choice for the collar. The hair is not only shorter but absorbs water readily.
This material is generally used on sizes smaller than a size 1.
There is also a Deceiver made using marabou as
a collar and wing. It is tied basically the same as a regular Deceiver except
that the collar and wing are of marabou. This is a beautiful fly and has a lot
of action in the water. You might want to consider tying a few of these in the
Most people's idea of a Deceiver is that the fly
has a topping of peacock herl. While this is not necessary, it does make for a
nicer fly but the herl is not very durable.
There are several ways to add flash to the Deceiver.
The most commonly seen version has either silver or gold flash a bou on each side
of the tail. This is an older version of the Deceiver but is still a good way
to include a lateral flash strip.
Pearl crystal is becoming more and more popular
as a use for flash within a fly. The pearl is a neutral color and when used, picks
up the color of the material that it is incorporated with. This is not to say
that other colors are not useful but do not be scared to use just the pearl color.
The crystal flash can be used as a lateral line
in the tail and can also e used in the collar of the fly. Several strands on the
belly of the fly and then several stands mixed in with the top portion of the
If I am making a multiple color collar or wing,
I mix in 2 or 3 strands of pearl with the white and then either put another color
or pearl on top of the collar or between the separate colors. Either way seems
to work fine but here again do not overdo it with the flash.
Eyes play an important part in this fly. Painted
eyes were the standard for quite a while but with all of the eyes on the market,
you can add stick on eyes in numerous sizes and color combinations but the one
that I like the best is the Molded 3D stick on eyes. With the use of either of
the stick on eye types, you will need to coat the head multiple times with head
cement or head finish or use epoxy to finish the head.
With the simple design of the Deceiver, with a
little investigation, you will be able to tie this fly to meet part, if not all,
of your baitfish imitations.
One more little note on the Deceiver: The Deceiver
is probably the most copied fly style in the area of saltwater. There are numerous
flies on the market with other names and supposedly designed by other tyers but
a close look will establish that these flies are basically a Deceiver style and
not a new fly design.
Here is the address for a Deceiver with tying instructions