Fly Fishers' Republic


December 19, 2006

by Ian Colin James




I created the Dexter way back in 1983 as a copy of the Mepps #2 red-and-white spinner. One summer day I was out on Guelph Lake, here in Ontario, fishing for Smallmouth Bass with several spin fishermen. At days end, they delivered an aquatic ass kicking of epic proportions on the Scotsman with the flyrod. When I got back home I simply tried to copy the spinner they had been using. The original Dexter had a tail made from golden pheasant crest, and a body of embossed silver tinsel ribbed with oval silver tinsel. The wing was made from white calf tail topped with a few strands of red Christmas tree tinsel. In ’83, Flashabou was’t all that common so we had to make do with what was at hand. The proper colour for the Flashabou is red, code #6911. On the original Dexter there was also a collar of guinea fowl which sure made the fly look pretty, but it did little for the fly’s catching credentials.

Eventually I switched to small diameter silver mylar tube for the body. The subtle glint this gave the body has proven one of the keys to the pattern’s success. If you use medium or large diameter mylar you’ll find the pattern doesn’t work so well. The added bonus here is the mylar tube body proves a whole lot easier to dress than messing around with embossed tinsel and ribbing.

While I’m on the subject: you might try tying your Zonkers with similar slim mylar tube bodies rather than shaped ones made from tape and tinsel. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Fishing the Dexter:

The Dexter is a cracking pattern for going after large pike. One of the biggest misconceptions in fly fishing is that you have to use large flies to get large pike. This is simply not the case. I have caught enough of them to be able to say that with confidence. I am not kidding you. You will hook more Northern Pike on smallish flies, say a Mustad 9671 size #4, than you will with a size #1/0 or size #2/0 fly. The Dexter will allow you to fish for Northern Pike with your 5-weight trout rod. All you need add to your standard gear is a metal bite tippet. Believe it or not, Northern Pike can be very, very leader shy, so you’re best using the thinnest material you can get.

Some of my clients have had great success fishing for Barracuda and Snook using medium sized Dexters tied on saltwater hooks.


The sister fly to the Dexter is the Blue Thunder which replaces the red Fashabou #6911 with purple #6913. The success of the Dexter had been instant, so in the fall of 1983 I decided to duplicate the colours of another productive lure, and steelhead catcher, the Little Cleo. Its purple and silver colour combination gave rise to the Blue Thunder. The pattern proved every bit as successful as the Dexter, not only here in Ontario but also in British Columbia, Argentina, and several states across the US.

Here is the kicker. I am colour blind so for the longest time I told folk that I was using blue Flashabou, hence the name, when in fact I was tying the pattern with purple Flashabou. It was not until many years later when I was giving a fly tying presentation, that the mistake was discovered. By then, I had compiled many letters, and received many phone calls, from ticked-off fly fishermen using rather unproductive flies tied with blue Flashabou. I'm a great fan of the practical joke, but I could not have thought of that one in a million years. Oh well.