Massachusetts Shad Fly

This shad fly is part of The Pfeiffer Collection.

Okay… this fly really threw me for a loop! The image included in the book is a black and white picture and has very low contrast. I had a very hard time seeing what went where. I could not find any information online about the fly, so I knew I was going to have to figure it out myself. The included fly recipe seemed straight forward enough with the exception of the lines “clipped to taper down at the tail” for the hackle and “tied nymph style as a case of light blue saddle hackle fibers” for the wing.

When I attempted to put it all together, it just did not make any sense. I could not seem to make it work with a single palmered hackle. Finally, it occurred to me… tie the fly in two phases and use one hackle for the abdomen, and one for the thorax. This produced something that resembles what I see in the picture and is consistent with the tying recipe. If you have ever tied this fly and think that I am way off, please reach out as I would love to learn how to properly tie it.

I would say that there are certainly easier patterns to tie for shad, so I will not be tying up a mess of these for the shad run this year. However, I am going to try the pattern, and you never know… it may be a shad slayer. More than anything, I just enjoy the challenge of learning how to tie something new with very little input from outside sources. This fly was a challenge, but I really enjoyed the process of figuring it out.

An interesting note, the updated version of Pjeiffer’s Shad Fishing published in 2002 omits the wing case in this pattern. I am not sure if it evolved over time and became less complicated to tie because of it. I have experimented more with this pattern since tying it in this video and feel that light blue turkey quill is easier to work with than the light blue saddle hackle barbs and produces a very nice looking wing case.

massachusetts shad fly

Massachusetts Shad Fly Pattern:

Hook: Size 4
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni-Thread
Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet
Body: Rusty Orange Antron (the original called for orange seal fur)
Rib: Silver Tinsel, halfway down the body (I tied it on the abdomen nymph style)
Hackle: Yellow, palmer tied, clipped to taper down at the tail
Wing: Tied nymph style as a case of light blue saddle hackle fibers

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