Pattern The Howell


New Member
It's a well-known fact that some of the most successful (and now classic) PNW Steelhead flies have been 'supersized' or converted wet flies from the East Coast and Great Britain.

I was browsing the 'rareandunusual' website when I came across a traditional strip-wing wet fly called the 'Howell' - and decided to try my hand at dressing a hair-winged Steelhead variant that retained the 'spirit' of the original pattern.

It was a fun experiment, though the two issues that I haven't resolved (yet) are finding a white-tipped hair that replicates the original Turkey, and I've been unsuccessful in finding any kind of history about the original fly.

If any of you happen to have any information about the origins of the 'Howell' or know of a natural white-tipped jet black hair I'd really appreciate hearing from you!


Another "reduced" fly. Looks very good to me. As to history, I can't help you. Have you contacted Don Bastion or Eric Austin? Maybe one of them will have the background on the fly.

I have a friend who is a furrier. I'll give him a call in the morning and see what he can come up with for a jet black, white tipped hair.



New Member
Hey Ron,

Thanks for the thumbs-up!

I actually talked with Mr. Bastion and a few other hard-core historians (including Hans Weilenmann), and they've all have drawn a blank.

Thanks in advance for talking to your furrier friend, too! The only thing I haven't tried is tip dyeing 'in reverse' - it's just too much hassle, even for a few flies.


Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415

Although it seems like a simple request, surely there is some animal that has white tipped black hair. But I'll be darned if I can find it.
As an alternative, tip bleaching and reverse tip dying came to mind first but it is a hassle.

Although not strictly a hair wing, another option would be to use turkey as in the original. Strip the fibers from the shaft, line them up and roll into a bunch. I've done this using all kinds of feathers. Golden Pheasant rump makes a nice red wing, Yellow Golden a nice yellow wing, Guinea makes speckles or spots, partridge and english grouse are nice, etc.



New Member
Hey Tim,

I really appreciate the tip on bunch tying the Turkey,...I tried it, and it just didn't look 'right'. One of the reasons I'm hell-bent on using hair is because I want lots of movement in the wing, and while the Turkey provided the 'bulk' I wanted, it was a little too stiff for my tastes.

The tip bleaching is something I haven't thought of, though, and it'd certainly be easier than 'reverse' dying. My stubbornness tells me that there has to be some kind of natural hair that'll meet my needs. (*g*)

If any of you happen to have any information about the origins of the 'Howell' or know of a natural white-tipped jet black hair I'd really appreciate hearing from you!
My German Shepherd had black Hair with a white tip on it's neck. The only problem is it was white/black/white so you could only tie 1' to 3/4' wings with it and would have to sort the hair before stacking. A bit unconventional but would give the fly awesome action. I used to fill grocery bags with the stuff every spring. :rofl:

What about Silvertip Badger or Alaskan Grizzly? You can get the Badger from old shaving brushes. Not sure if the action would be good though.
I`m pretty sure the Howell is one of Ray Bergmans lesser know patterns .
As well as the Silver Badger already mentioned , some woodchuck hair will give the effect you`re looking for (or a reasonable facsimile:D :confused: ) .


New Member
Brian, - or should I call you, "Watson"? (*g*)


It didn't occur to me that 'the Howell' was one of the patterns featured in "Forgotten Flies". Though, when I asked Don Bastion (who actually dressed many of the Wets in Schmookler's book) if he knew anything about the fly's history he made no mention at all of Ray Bergman - and that kind of oversight is really perplexing considering Don's reputation as a tyer/historian.

In any event, thanks to your clue, 'the game is afoot'!

Although the colors involved are not, strictly speaking, black and white, you might try hair from a silvertip-phase grizzly bear, or the back hairs of a "grayback" 600-pound alpha male gorilla.

The non-financial costs of collecting these, however, may make it impractical.

Jay Allyn

The Poor-Student Fly Fisher
I believe I have seen some squirrel tale that had a white/silver tip and a dark grey/black hair. Not exactly jet black and white but it will give you a close match.

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