The Olive Willy - From Washington with Love

A Stillwater go-to pattern

Olive Willy

In the spring of 2003 I found myself on another work trip to Seattle, and like many previous trips, I looked up a fly shop that I could visit to waste a few minutes and a few bucks.  I ended up at Swede's Fly Shop in Woodinville, Wa, and as I had done in many shops across the country I asked them what the local specialty pattern was.  A very understanding shop employee must have seen the tying addiction in my eyes and took me to the fly bins to show me a fly that they called the "Olive Willy."  They offered me great service in selecting the correct materials and giving me a few tips in tying the fly.  The tail was fluff from the base of a pheasant rump feather.  They body was custom dyed chenille, and the collar was tied soft-hackle style with the remaining part of the rump feather.  There was an optional over-wing tied of red rabbit fur that I turned into a staple in my box. To top it all of was a ruby red bead with a silver lining - literally.  The secret... chartreuse dyed rump feathers that made the drab gray turn into a magic olive with lots of speckles.

I remember distinctly getting home on Friday and heading straight to the vise to whip up some Willys, and i only stopped when I wore out all of the hooks that I had purchased in Washington.  A small lake that held
Bonneville Cutt on the Olive Willy
Kamloops strain rainbow trout and largemouth bass was in the plans for the next day, and I knew I'd be fishing the trusty cone head brown bugger trailed by the Olive Willy.  To spare you a lot of details, the Willy absolutely crushed trout, bass, and bluegill.  It was a good thing that I tied a lot of them because I was handing them out to friends right and left.

Swede's Fly Shop in Woodinville has since closed it's doors, but it's still going strong in Spokane.  I had a chance last week to visit the shop in Spokane, and was able to replenish my stock of special beads and custom dyed chenille, but best of all, it was good to chat with Allen (Swede) about all of their cool materials.  If you have a chance, head in to their shop to see a wealth of awesome tying materials!

I caught a LOT of fish on the Olive Willy that year and every year since 2003, and as much as I tinker with other bugs, I always make sure I have some Olive Willys in my box.  I even landed a catch and release state record smallmouth on it! (that lasted about 5 months until it was beaten by a guy throwing tube jigs.)  As you will see on the video tutorial, I made a slight change on the hackle and the chenille, but it still works great.  This pattern is especially effective in early summer when the damsel nymphs are going crazy.

~ Cheech

Original recipe:
Hook: Allen S402 or S402BL
Bead: Red craft bead with a square hole (painted silver inside)
Thread: UTC 70 - red
Tail: Fluff from the base of a chartreuse dyed pheasant rump feather
Body: Medium chenille - dyed peacock
Hackle: Pheasant rump dyed chartreuse (one with a lot of speckling)
Over wing (optional): red rabbit fur

Modified recipe (as shown in the video):
Hook: Allen S402 or S402BL BUY HERE
Bead: Red craft bead with a square hole (painted silver inside)
Thread: UTC 70 - red
Tail: Fluff from the base of a Coq de Leon hen saddle feather - speckled yellow chartreuse BUY HERE
Body: Speckled chenille - lime/olive BUY HERE
Hackle: Coq de Leon hen saddle feather - speckled yellow chartreuse BUY HERE
Over wing (optional): red rabbit fur