The Orleans Barber

The Orleans Barber features a strip of black and white wood duck flank for a tail.


  The Orleans Barber is an old Klamath River pattern that features a wood duck tail. Credit for the naming of the pattern goes to C. Jim Pray, an early famous fly dresser and steelhead angler from Eureka, California. Jim Pray gave credit for the introduction of the then unknown pattern to a good flyfisherman from the Orleans area on the Klamath River, California. He was known to all as the Orleans barber.  Whether he was the local barber or not I can only speculate. The year was 1934. The wood duck tail and no wing was a little bit different, but the pattern caught Klamath steelhead. So good that Jim Pray included the fly in his top list of best Klamath River steelhead patterns, and gave it the name The Orleans Barber. Use of the Orleans Barber pattern spread to the Rogue River of Oregon where it was successful for steelhead as well.

A simple but elegant looking fly the recipe is:

The Orleans Barber

 Tail- Black and white barred wood duck or mandarin duck;

 Body- bright red chenille;

 Hackle- gray;

 No wings

I tied this Orleans Barber using two wood duck strips back to back for the tail. The body is fluorencent red chenille. The hackle is soft, grizzly-barred hen wrapped three turns.


2 thoughts on “The Orleans Barber

  1. I’m curious, is the tail tied on top of the hook so that the wood duck fibers are vertical or horizontal (flat)? Do you use a whole feather or part of one?


  2. Tie the tail on just like you would a wet fly wing. Only difference is that you tie it on at the tail of the fly instead of behind the eye of the hook. Take two similar barred wood duck flank feathers, one from each side of the duck. Cut a section from each of the feathers. The two sections should match up in size and appearance as much as possible. Place the two sections back to back, good sides out, just as you would match up the sections for a wet fly wing. Holding the sections together vertical with a pinch grip between thumb and forefinger, loop the thread over the root part of both sections. Should be a soft loop. Put on another soft loop right over the first soft loop and slowly pull the thread so that both loops tighten and compress the sections of wood duck. If all goes right the two sections should tie down, sit together back to back and look nice.–Neil

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