Olive Willy

Cheech - March 3, 2018

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

Material List
  • Hook: Fulling Mill 1710 - Nymph Special - 10
  • Bead: Killer Caddis Glass Beads - Medium - CC-Ruby
  • Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier - Red
  • Tail/Collar: Fish Hunter Ringneck Pheasant Rump Patch - Fl. Chartreuse (UV)
  • Body: Chenille - Medium - Dark Olive
  • Overwing: Rabbit Zonker Strips - Red
Materials & Alternate Materials Listed Below
UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier
UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier

UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier

$1.99
Rabbit Zonker Strips
Rabbit Zonker Strips

Rabbit Zonker Strips

$3.99
Chenille - Medium
Chenille - Medium

Chenille - Medium

$3.50
Killer Caddis Glass Beads - Medium
Killer Caddis Glass Beads - Medium

Killer Caddis Glass Beads - Medium

$2.99
Fish Hunter Ringneck Pheasant Rump Patch
Fish Hunter Ringneck Pheasant Rump Patch

Fish Hunter Ringneck Pheasant Rump Patch

$7.99
Fulling Mill 1710 - Nymph Special
Fulling Mill 1710 - Nymph Special

Fulling Mill 1710 - Nymph Special

$11.00