Fly of the Month: Lefty’s Deceiver

Fly of the Month: Lefty’s Deceiver
Long before most of us were old enough to sling a fly rod, Lefty Kreh was whipping up on all kinds of big tough fish in all sorts of far away places. His go-to pattern was a fly he called Lefty’s Deceiver. In the hands of Lefty Kreh and other early fly fishing pioneers, the “Deceiver” tricked stripers, tarpon, bluefish, barracuda, and countless other species. It became one of the first well-known and widely acclaimed saltwater fly patterns, and it’s just as effective today as it was then.

The success of the Deceiver is due to several key features. First, its basic design (what makes a Deceiver a Deceiver) consists of a bucktail collar tied over a broad but tapered tail formed from hackle feathers. The coupling of these two natural materials creates a full-bodied elliptical profile similar to a small fish or minnow. Put simply, a wet Deceiver looks like a fish. Secondly, Deceivers are easy to cast for their size and the materials resist fouling on the hook shank. Third, Deceivers can be tied in nearly any size, ranging from scant #8 flies for little lips all the way up to foot-long offerings for billfish.

I generally consider Deceivers to fit into the “open-water” category of fly patterns. They are bold flies and not typically tied with a weed guard. Deceivers are great flies for probing channels and passes, and casting at offshore brutes. Likewise, Deceivers are good flies for the surf, where predators with big appetites cruise along relatively smooth sandbars.  

Deceivers can be tied in an endless combination of colors. Lefty says his favorite color combo is chartreuse/white. Other productive color choices include olives, yellows, blues, and grays (my favorite). Pink/red combos (shown) can be effective in off-color water or in the surf. To save time, prismatic stick-on eyes can be substituted for painted eyes, although I still prefer the durability and vintage mystique of paint.        

Hook: Mustad 34007, Tiemco 800S, or equivalent #6 through 3/0  
Thread: Clear nylon mono
Tail: Hackle feathers
Belly: Bucktail
Back: Bucktail
Body Flash: Flashabou or Krystal Flash Craft fur (dubbed)
Gills: Red Flashabou or Krystal Flash
Eyes: Painted
Head Cement: Sally Hansen’s Hard-as-Nails