Fly and Photos by Loren Williams
The Usual is a Fran Betters creation out of the Adirondack Region of New York. Most of Fran's patterns have a few common characteristics and this is no exception. It is buggy-almost scruffy , requires few materials, and is rather monotone save for the accent thread. Not exactly stunning patterns but man do they catch fish.
The Usual, and Fran's other pattern--its cousin the Haystack, are cemented in history as being high floating, maintenance-free fish catchers abel to succeed during most hatches, or in between hatches. They are obvious precursors to the modern Catskill pattern the Comparadun.
The Usual differs from the Haystack and Comparadun in its utilization of snowshoe hare's foot as the only component of its construction. Snowshoe is a wonderful material with all the qualities of deer hair and CDC and none of their shortcomings. The stuff will float forever without dressing, and if dressed or slimed it will still float. The hair fibers will not bend, crimp or collapse and it takes color well. It can also be dubbed!
To boot: the fly is cake to tie!
Hook: Partridge SLD
Thread: Fire Orange 6/0
Wing: Snowshoe Hare fur from toe of foot.
Tail: Same as wing
Body: Snowshoe Hare fur from heel of foot.
Affix hook in your vise and secure thread, stopping at the 1/4 to 1/3 point.
Select a healthy dollop of fur from the toe section of the underside of a Snowshoe Hare's foot.
Grasp the bundle by the tips.
Comb out the underfur and shorts.
Flip the bundle around so the tips face the direction of the hook's eye.
Measure the fur to be as long as the entire hook.
Place the measured point directly over the thread.
Secure with a pinch knot.
Add another pinch knot.
Support the bundle at the rear while you wrap back with several tight turns to secure the fur.
Clip the excess butt ends at an angle at about the 1/2 mark of the shank.
Advance the thread forward to the original tie-in position.
Pull the tips to the rear...
...and build a solid thread dam in front to wedge the fur erect.
Take the thread to the rear.
Select another dollop, this time 1/2 as thick and remove the underfur and shorts as above.
This time with the tips to the rear measure the fur to be, again, as long as the hook.
Secure with several tight wraps.
Bring the thread forward, stopping shy of the middle of the shank.
Clips the butt ends so they will meet the butt ends from the wing.
Smooth the underbody with thread.
Snip out a small bunch of fur from the heel section of the foot.
Blend it together.
Apply a tacky dubbing wax to your thread.
Touch the fur to the thread to make a sparse touch-dubbed rope. The thread should be clearly visible.
Spin the thread counter-clockwise to fix it to the hair.
Dub the rope forward.
Build a neat head, whip finish and cement.
A completed Usual!