The Intruder - Nic Stewart
Updated: Aug 20, 2018
This fly doesn’t require an introduction, however a quick trip down memory lane is always a good reference point.
Developed in the Pacific North West by Skagit maestro’s Ed Ward and Jerry French, the concept of this pattern is what made it different from most other flies when used to target anadromous fish in rivers like the Skagit and Sauk.
The original fly presents a big profile, yet isn’t loaded with material. In fact, the absence of material is what makes this fly as successful as what it is and swim the way it does, and also why so many have since copied this fly or constructed their own renditions.
The Intruder’s original purpose was to target Steelhead, not just any Steelhead, the big ones. The kind of fish that separate the men from the boys and the flies were designed to trigger the most aggressive responses from the biggest fish, hence the name. It is also well suited for other species of anadromous fish such as King Salmon.
I started tying this pattern some years ago, initially just to see if I could get a full size fly finished to a somewhat proficient level. After many failed attempts, I managed to scrounge together some better tying materials and could then construct a reasonable model of an Intruder. Later I started tying the Intruder for trout. This meant a change of mind of materials and a rethink of how to scale down the size so it can be used as a Summer pattern as well as a bigger Winter trout pattern.
Inspiration from the likes of Ben Paull of OPST and a few other folk I follow on social media had me digging through my tying box trying to find bits and pieces I hadn’t used for some time.
Pine Squirrel, marawool, Lady Amhurst, ice dub, lazer dub and silicone legs are but a few of the materials I use to build my Intruders. An intruder would never be complete without either Ostrich or marabou, these last two materials offer maximum movement with minimal water flow.
The Firehole stick 839 streamer hook in size 8 and 10 are good hooks for summer size Intruder snacks and 40mm OPST Micro Shanks with (preferably) for larger winter Intruders, shanks can be cut back smaller if you rather fish smaller flies, just remember to balance them correctly if you do scale your shank flies down, smaller overall length should have smaller eyes or even beads and smaller stinger hook to keep the fly balanced. If using shanks simply add OPST Swing Hooks in 4's or 6's.
One of the keys to tying Intruders is not to over build the collars, by that I mean don’t make them too heavy and thick, less is more in this case.
Step by Step
30lb Fireline for attaching stinger hook
Size 4 or 6 OPST Swing Hook
Medium Size Dumbbell eyes
Olive Black Barred rabbit fur
Orange Lady Amherst feather
Olive Ostrich feathers
Black Barred Olive Marabou
Ice Dub Red UV
Ice Dub Olive UV
Forest Blaze Ice Dub
Black Barred Green Micro Flashabou
Olive Holographic tape
Olive Black barred Silicone legs
1) Securing the shank in your vice, tie in the eyes behind the hook eye.
The next part is optional in that you can either loop the hook on now or later, I like to loop it on so I can get the length of rear post correct, live a little, it will make you more careful.
Using open wraps wind up toward the eye of the hook over the top of the fireline, put a small amount of super glue down over the open weave of the thread and the fireline, spread evenly around, then using touching turns bind down firmly back toward the stinger hook, this will force super glue into the thread and fireline and stop it from slipping, I have never had this slip ever if done correctly.
2) Make a small dubbing loop and pinch out a small amount of red UV Ice Dub and insert it into the loop and spread out evenly, spin your dubbing loop to create a dubbing rope and brush to make it as even a diameter as possible, not too thick though, wrap around the shank 3 times then back onto itself two times to make a dubbing ball and tie off.
3) Attach 3 silicone legs on each side of the dubbing ball, tying off securely.
4) Tie in Olive Holographic tape and wrap the shank with it up to right behind the dumbbell eyes and tie off.
5 - 7) Making your composite loop stack.
Pinch out a small amount of Olive UV Ice Dub, pull the ice dub apart with the thumb and forefinger of each hand to make the lengths as even as possible, place down on a clean surface and spread out thinly, the amount should spread out to approx. 40mm.
Cut off approximately 15 Orange Amherst feather barbules and evenly spread them out across the Ice dub, pinch a small amount of forest blaze Ice Dub and prepare it the same as the first Ice dub and spread evenly over the Amherst, pushing down firmly on all the materials with your finger to help them all grip each other.
Select approximately 8 strands of green micro flashabou and evenly distribute across the stack as you did with the Amherst.
Using your fore and middle finger as a pincer cut off approximately 60mm of Olive black barred rabbit fur and then evenly spread it out across the stack.
Pinch off another small amount of Olive UV Ice Dub and prepare it as you did the other Ice dub and spread across the entire stack evenly, using your finger press all the materials together to help them grip each other.
8) Make a dubbing loop and put some dubbing wax on it, carefully pick up the stack and put it into the dubbing loop, sliding the stack right up to the shank, trim the butt ends evenly and using a dubbing spinner spin the materials up in the loop.
9) Once all the materials are spun well, using a bodkin carefully pick out all the bound up dubbing etc that’s wrapped around the dubbing loop core, I pick this out so the core is as thin as I can get it, using water crease and fold the spun material to create a ‘hackle’, once nicely creased, wrap it forward to behind the dumbbell eyes, pulling the materials back on each turn so as to not trap any, tie off securely.
At this point you could whip finish, head cement and then take fishing, however I like to finish the fly with Ostrich and marabou.
Take 6 Ostrich Barbules and tie them in on either side of the hook eye, in the gap in the middle between the ostrich feathers tie in a small clump of marabou, take a toothbrush or similar and brush all the materials forward, then brush them all back.
Finally proceed to whip finish and cover your threads with head cement to complete the fly.
This is my rendition of the Intruder and also how I like to construct composite loops and it ties down nicely to a size 10 as long as the materials are balanced accordingly.
Varying the type of weight of this fly will encourage different actions, generally speaking I lean toward lighter flies and utilise a sink tip to get the fly down.
I have never quite understood putting all this awesome wiggly, flowly material into a fly only to effectively anchor it to the bottom with super heavy eyes.
Change up the colour to suit your water and have fun at the vice.