As with many childhood memories, they are often wrapped in myth and legend with morsels of truth sprinkled around.
For as long as I can remember, my dad espoused the virtues of our family fly: the Coleman Special. Ostensibly named after the Coleman clan, and clearly a modification of the famous Woolly Bugger, the Coleman Special was the first fly I ever fished and it also became the most often utilized fly of my childhood. Not only does it catch fish, but it happens to be an easy fly to cast under most conditions. I learned to roll cast with this fly as well as the different nuances of retrieval to trigger a rainbow into an explosive strike.
As a child, I was enamored with the bright colors that appeared to drive Rainbow Trout crazy. As an adult, I suspect this is why I prefer to experiment with such brightly colored flies as “The Fly Formerly Known as Prince” and the “Pink Squirrel”, even before they became mainstream in most fisherman’s fly boxes. Not surprisingly, my own fly tying style often incorporates bright oranges and pinks due to my early influence from this fly.
Many fly fisherman I run into on the river tie their own flies, but it’s rare to find someone who experiments with their own patterns (or at least someone who is willing to share them). One of my favorite past times is talking to fellow fly fishermen on the river and exchanging some flies, often with me handing over several of my own concoctions that they’ve never seen of before as well as some of my old standbys. My family has given out plenty of Coleman Specials over time, and I hope the name sticks. I like to think that a piece of my family history is lurking in fly boxes across USA and perhaps the world.
Pictured above is aforementioned “Coleman Special” originally designed by my father Michael and modernized by myself
Here is the original Coleman Special recipe:
Thread: Florescent Fire Orange,
Hook: Size 8-14, 2x Long Streamer Hook
Tail: Pink Marabou
Ribbing: Gold tinself or brassie (small or medium) ribbing for segmentation and hackle support
Body: Flourescent Orange Chenille
Body Hackle: Palmered Brown Hackle (may substitute ginger), use ribbing to secure
Optional Add Ons: Non-toxic Weight (8-10 wrapps pushed up against the bead), Brass or Tungsten Bead or Cone Head (rainbow colored or gold) matched appropriately to the hook, flashabou or crystal flash added to the tail section