Here is a classic style steelhead fly for the Fall. A John Shewey original, the pattern features bronze in more than just the name. A key feature is the bronze mallard wing arching across the top. Laying like the shellback to a shrimp or possibly a crawfish, this “wing” helps direct the long, flowing Spey hackles down and to the rear. With “legs” flowing and pulsing with life, it is no wonder that Spey flies like the Autumn Bronze prove irresistible to steelhead and cutthroat trout.
I like to tie my Spey patterns with bronze mallard flank feathers I have gathered myself. The bronze color of the feathers are conspicuous just behind the joint of the wings. Early in the duck hunting season, the bronze mallard feathers are short and not fully developed. As the season progresses the quality of the feathers improves. By January any mallard drake harvested is going to have perhaps 4-5 good feathers per side. When plucked the feathers from each side are matched. I like to store my matched “pairs” of bronze mallard on photo album pages. The plastic of the page securely holds the matched pairs in place ready for selection when tying a fly. An added bonus of the “photo album page” method of storing is that the feathers are held flat against the paper of the page. Bronze mallard feathers have a natural curve. You will readily know this if you have ever tried to set a pair atop a hook. Stored under compression the feathers loose some of the memory of the natural curve. This will make setting a bronze mallard wing on a classic Spey fly a lot faster and neater.