Fly Fishers' Republic

Flash Dancer

August 29, 2012

by Raif Killips

Flash Dancer



This now standard streamer was designed by Larry Dahlberg especially for smallmouth bass but will work for several species of fish, including rainbow, brown and other trout, largemouth bass, peacock bass, pike, European perch and several saltwater species including stripers, mackerel, bass and pollack.

How to fish:

On rivers Dahlberg’s Flash Dancer is best fished in the riffles drawn across the current in front of feeding fish. You can use a standard wetfly swing or a cross stream cast with a fast strip; this depends on the flow and the fish. On stillwater a strip retrieve is essential, while the addition of some lead can help improve the fly’s action. Use floating, sink tip and full sinking lines to achieve the depth of presentation required.


Dahlberg originally tied the Flash Dancer as the fly angler’s answer to the hardware fisherman’s Mepps spinner bait. He created it for a client back in 1990 (Ian Collin James’ Dexter was created along similar lines in 1983 [1]).  This particular angler, though guided by Larry, was struggling to hook up with the local smallmouth bass. Meanwhile competing fishermen were landing plenty. Larry contrived a pattern of red marabou tail and big glittery wing, coupled with a deer hair head and collar to kick the aforementioned into life. This redressed the balance [2].


The hook was originally a Mustad 3366 but there are plenty of modern equivalents (see Tim Holschlag's Smallmouth Fly Fishing for hook dimensions). Lead wire may be added under the chenille to get the streamer down the water column. A silver or pearl wing with white deer hair collar and head is a useful adaptation. Dahlberg suggests you experiment with colour variations though for his own use the colours mentioned already are his preference. Since 1990 more mobile material has come to market than the original Flashabou - the more mobile and limp the better.

Further reading:

Hot Bass Flies Patterns & Tactics from the Experts, 2003, Deke Meyer, Frank Amato Publications, ISBN 1-57188-285-5 (softbound), ISBN 1-57188-286-3 (spiral hardbound).