Does anyone still use this great winter steelhead fly?

Dave McNeese

One of the OLD guys
The Drain's 20 date back to the early season of 1947 when Wes Drain landed his big steelhead on this delicate pattern. After 60 seasons does this fly still exist?
First photo is of the two Drain's 20 that I tied today. Second photo is of Colius christina sulphur butterflies under study.
The two tone body of Fluorescent Floss veiled by Yellow Toucan and Reddish Cock of the Rock glow together perfectly, with a sparse topping of Grey Squirrel wing . Toucan and Cock of the Rock have always been expensive, but well worth the money on such a fine pattern.
If one would like to fish the Drain's 20 as it was first tied, to celebrate it's 60th season, I will tie up you one to USE and report back to me on the amount of time spent fishing the fly, etc... I believe this pattern to be the first UV refective fly tied for steelhead and would like to see it have a good workout this season.
This ties in with my study on UV reflective scales on butterflies and feathers. For example, redwing blackbird shoulder feathers or yellow sulphur butterflies.
Please PM me with your phone number and address.

Dave McNeese
(503) 779-9073

Matt Burke

Active Member
Holy cow Dave, what a great looking fly. No, I don't think I've seen that tie before. I'll PM my address. Talked with my girl, we are going to try to stop by on the way to San Deigo. Will call you first.


Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!!!

I would suggest you consider resizing your images to 600 x 400 pixels so they load quickly and do not require scrolling to see. I am using a very fast cable connection and still have to wait inordinately long for the image to load. Thanks.



Active Member
I was asked to tie a few flies to stuff some beautiful handmade wooden fly boxes to be raffled off at the Washington Fly Fishing Club's Christmas party. With winter coming on, I decided to tie a few of the Pacific Northwest's classic steelhead flies. While Drain's 20 was not one of the ones I chose to tie, it did get me thinking about some of the beautiful and effective old flies that seem to have fallen out of use these days. My final selection was: the Skykomish Sunrise, Brad's Brat, Purple Peril, Polar Shrimp, Frank Headrick's Hellcat and two versions (claret and orange) of a little-known Ken McLeod pattern that I can't even find a name for.

They are all fairly simple patterns but I suspect that they are as effective as many more modern flies. I've tied up a few more than I need for the fly boxes and intend to fish them this season.

Willie Bodger

Still, nothing clever to say...
Very nice fly Dave. Would you be willing to tie one for a steelhead virgin? And maybe include tying instructions as well?

Lovely ties - and one of my favorite patterns, Dave!

On an aside, I still have a dial-up Internet connection and the download was well worth the time.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful work.


Bert Kinghorn

Formerly "nextcast"
Yes, and it is a great fly!

I'd be lying through my teeth if I promised to fish a fly you gave me, though. It would end up in a special box with treasures tied by Lemire, Kinney, Wulff, etc.


Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!!!
Dave McNeese said:
Halcyon, Sorry I kept you waiting. Id be happy to change it if you give me instructions how to do it.
Well your images are fine and the subjects are superb so the only thing is resizing them. You have two options which you can use each alone or in combination. You will need some editing software such as that which comes with the Windows or Mac operating systems or preferably a program such as Photoshop, or the like. First, in many of your shots there is lots of space around the flies so you could "crop" to show the flies with less background and cut the size this way. Second, you can resize the image directly by using the editing software and changing the "image size" to 600 by 400 or 600 wide by a proportional height using the "image size" control in your edit program. Finally, you can crop the image and then resize the cropped image to get it to the final size you want. In any case, save the file as a "high resolution" JPG format image.

If you let me know exactly what software you have to edit images I or someone familiar with that particular software could give you step by step instruction.


Dave McNeese

One of the OLD guys
Don and all,
I'm doing a survey to see if this old classic still works.
Yes I am offering to tie you a Drains 20 to fish this season and then report back to us how it produces. This fly has great colors and in theory should still work.
I need your name, address and phone number and promise to fish it and let me know how it went. I will post final results after the season. Feel free to post your personal results on this thread as you wish.


Dave McNeese

One of the OLD guys
The way you tie your wings is spectacular. They really look fishy. I want to tie like you someday!

Halcyon, thanks for the info, I will try, but can't promise results! Where is that teenager when I need him?

Hywel, Willie, Don and Bert
Thank you kindly for your compliments. I am honored and in good company with all of you fantastic tyers and fishermen.

Best regards,

Steve Rohrbach

Puget Sound Fly Fisher
Dave, one of the most wonderful parts of this fly fishing community is the willingness of the experts to share their knowledge. Today I have been treated to your fly, Preston's frequent contributions regarding flies or species and Les Johnson's views on Coastal Cutthroat.

I would love to fish Drain's 20 and promise to report back on the results. Thanks for sharing.

Best regards,
Steve Rohrbach
PM with details on the way