Gartside Sparrow

Gartside Sparrow by Steve Yates/Flyman

Hook: Mustad 9671 sz 6
Thread: Rusty Brown Uni 6/0
Tail: Pheasant of grizzly rump marabou feather
Body: SLF Golden Stone
Hackle: Pheasant rump hackle
Head: Pheasant after shaft feathers

I had another fly picked out for the journal this month but with the recent passing of Jack Gartside I thought one of Jack’s flies might be fitting. Jack was a larger than life type of person who was filled with a love for life and stories about his exploits abound. Lefty Kreh is said to have once said about Jack “his paint don’t dry”. One only needs to look at his list of accomplishments as a fly tier, fisherman, and author to see he was someone very special.

When Jack came up with the Sparrow he was looking for an impressionistic fly that would combine some of the common features of both insect and baitfish. While camping on the Madison one summer he came up with the combination of materials for the Sparrow from what he had on hand, mainly feathers from a Pheasant skin. Gartside was famous for his use of several of the many types of feathers found on a Pheasant skin. Legend has it that when a friend first saw a pile of the newly-tied flies he said they looked like a flock of sparrows.

Step 1 

Step 1: Select a “Marabou” type pheasant rump feather for the tail. Look for one with a square tip to suggest a bait fish tail. Tie in at the rear of the fly and tie forward to just about the 2/3 point on the hook shank, now return your thread to the rear tie-in point.

Step 2 

Step 2: Dub the body, I like to leave a slight taper on both ends. The taper at the front of the fly will help your soft hackle collar lay backwards.



Step 3 


Step 3: Select another rump feather just up from the bottom of the pheasant skin. I like to use the ones that are just starting to show some markings just below the church window feathers. The feather will have a smaller philoplume feather attached at its base. Gently remove the philoplume feather and set it aside for the collar.




Step 4 



Step 4: I like to prepare these types of soft hackle feathers for tie-in by first removing most of the fluff from the base of the feather. I then stroke a few of the fibers from the tip backwards and trim the tip to tie the feather in by. You will only need 6 or 7 fibers on each side of the feather stem; this hackle should be kept sparse.



Step 5 

Step 5: Tie the feather in by the tip with the shiny side facing upwards.



Step 6 


Step 6: Lift the feather, now stroke and fold the fibers backwards.




Step 7 


Step 7: Wind the hackle stroking the fibers backwards as you go. Make 1 or 2 turns of hackle at the most.




Step 8 

Step 8:  Prepare and tie in 2 philoplume feathers for the collar. They are fragile so I tie them in by the base and break the tips off before I ever start to wind them. I don’t use regular hackle pliers because unless you are careful or lucky you will cut them. I either use my hand or an E-Z electrical pick-up tool.



Finished Fly  Finished fly.

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