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The Versatile Lefty's Deceiver
by Captain Gene Quigley
Shore Catch Guide Service

or the saltwater fly fisherman, choosing a fly can sometimes become a challenging task. Whether it's your first cast ever into the suds, or your thousandth, an uncontrollable rush takes over as you begin to wonder what lies in the deep blue waters ahead. The drag has been set, your knots tied and checked, and you anxiously move to the oceans edge hoping to feel that o' so familiar rip as the line quickly moves through your hands. The most important decision the "long rodder" now faces is what fly to put on the end of the line? Many times we are faced with deciding which pattern will get "the nod". Unless we can clearly see what the prevalent bait is in the water at that specific time, we are forced to choose a pattern in hopes that it will match the prevalent forage.

During the saltwater fly fishing season in the Northeast, we will most likely encounter more than one type of baitfish in the suds. It is then when we must quickly determine the type and size of the baits that are being fed upon by larger predators. Using a process of elimination with a specific fly design should determine what the correct size would be.

Capt Gene QuigleyAs the sport of saltwater fly-fishing continues to evolve, more and more innovative fly patterns are being introduced to specifically match one particular baitfish. Very few, however, can emulate a great number of baitfish by using one basic design. The Deceiver, or "Lefty Deceiver", is one of the few fly design's that can emulate many baitfish when tied in three different sizes. I refer to the Deceiver as a "design" rather than a "fly pattern" because of its great versatility in matching the baitfish of the Northeast. Its originator, Lefty Kreh, is the forefather of saltwater fly-fishing and one of the greatest authorities to date on the sport. He has spent a lifetime traveling around the globe to fish, promote, and educating people on our great sport.

Tying the Lefty Deceiver is fairly easy. The first step is to tie a small amount of bucktail to the back portion of the hook shank. Make sure you only secure the bucktail to the end of the strait portion of the hook. This will help keep the fly from "fouling" once completed. Next, tie on both sides of the hook, (again toward the end of the strait portion on the hook shank) approximately two to four saddle hackle feathers. Strip the feathers to your specific desired length. This will depend on the particular baitfish category in which you intend on matching.

Smaller Deceivers, in the two to three inch range will best resemble sand eel's, spearing (silversides), rainfish, and bay anchovies. Medium sized Deceivers, in the four to six inch range, will best match peanut bunker, mullet, and immature herring. Your "monster" Deceivers should be tied seven to twelve inches long to resemble adult bunker and blue back herring.

The next tying step in our process will be to wrap the remaining portion of the hook shank with some type of pearl or silver flash material like Bills Body Braid. This will give the center of the fly's body a deep, flashy appearance. The under collar should be tied with bucktail on the bottom side of the hook shank, just behind the hook eye. Use you own judgment as to how thick and long you want the material to be. This will depend on the size of the Deceiver and baitfish category you wish to match.

Next (on top of the hook shank just behind the hook eye) tie in a top collar of bucktail, then flashaboo, and finish with a few strands of peacock hearl. Again, it is important to use your own judgment as to the amount of materials you wish to use in order to match one of the three different baitfish categories.

Finally, apply stick on eyes and epoxy head. Color choices for the Lefty Deceiver are endless, however the most effective choices I have found are all white, chartreuse over white, olive or blue over white, yellow, and at night black.

When it comes time to hit the surf it is essential that your fly box contain these three Lefty Deceivers. By doing this, the smart angler will be able to literally match all of the possible baitfish that may be present in the water with just three flies.

The first Deceiver should be approximately two to three inches long and tied sparse. As discussed earlier, by tying this fly small and sparse, it will resemble the sand eel, spearing, rainfish, or bay anchovy. The sand eel and spearing (silverside), are present in our waters from April until December, and remain the prevalent food of choice for feeding game fish such as Stripers, Blue's, and False Albacore. Therefore, I always start with the smaller version of the Deceiver first, since these two baits are the most regularly fed upon. Make sure you sufficiently cover all of the possible water being fished by performing a series of "fan" casts starting directly in front of you, then, extending outward before changing to a bigger pattern.

Remember to always approach the water you will be fishing carefully. On many instances Stripers and other game fish will be feeding in the wash and along the jetties edge. If you have not seen any results with the smaller Deceiver after fully covering the area, it is time to switch to a larger pattern.

The next pattern of choice is a Deceiver tied in the four to six inch range, and dressed thicker and broader. Should the fish be feeding on peanut bunker, mullet, immature herring, or baby snapper blues, this fly will do the trick. Again, perform a series of outward "fan" casts covering the water thoroughly. Finicky fish could very well have passed up the smaller Deceiver if they are targeting a larger baitfish.

When it comes time to switch to the "monster" Deceiver I strongly recommend using a sinking line like the Teeny TS 250 or Teeny XD 300. These Teeny lines are very effective in loading the rod quickly and can cast larger flies with ease. The will also get the fly down deep where larger fish generally hold. Most likely, larger fish in the fifteen-pound plus range will be the only ones with enough "shoulders" to take a fly of this proportion.

A word to the wise however, don't be fooled by the "large fly, large fish" ideology. I've seen many instances where larger Bass and Blues were taken on small patterns. Last June, while fishing on Martha's Vineyard, my good friend and fishing companion; Tom McGinely, hooked and landed a forty-inch striper on a one and a half inch black sand eel pattern.

It is important to remember that fish target specific baitfish depending on what is the most prevalent at that particular time of year. "Matching the hatch" and presentation are the keys to success. If you cover the water effectively with these three fly designs and are still not rewarded with a strike, chances are there are no fish in that area and it is a good time to try a new location. Always remember to fish your fly with confidence, try a different retrieval or technique! You never know what will work until you try. I'm sure my friend Tom did not expect to land a forty inch cow when he tied on a fly the size of a toothpick! Happy Tying! End

Lefty's Deceiver Pattern

Hook: Teimpco 800S Size 4 to 4/0

Thread: Danville's Clear Monocord

Tail: White Saddle Hackles over White Bucktail

Body: Pearl Bills Body Braid

Top Collar: Peacock Hearl over Pearl Flashaboo over White Bucktail

Bottom Collar: White Bucktail

Copyright © 1999 - 2013 Gene Quigley, All Rights Reserved

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