Tying the Barnsie

By Bob Leeman

While fly casting for landlocked salmon at Grand Lake Stream a few years ago, I spotted a good-sized fish waiting for a morsel to float by, while hiding behind a sunken boulder across the flow.

My first offer was a Bob’s White Marabou Muddler fly, flicked to the upper current just above and to the right of the fish—well within sighting distance.

In split seconds, the salmon was eyeing the offering, but refused to strike, hurrying back to his comfort spot.

A hurried change of fly pattern to a “Barnsie”, which is a casting version of the original Barnes Special streamer fly; then cast to the identical location, produced an explosive strike, with no inspection at all! Wow!, I thought! This fly really works for stream landlocks, and here I’ve been using my White Marabou Muddler with mixed success on this stream for years!

The Creator”

The original creation of the “Barnsie” casting size streamer fly was made one evening by my longtime fishing pal, Roger Wakefield of Machias. As I recall, we had sat down at our rented riverside cabin, to tie some of our big caddis flies to match the hatch of the early July big mottled caddis insect, which was hatching at the time. And I might add, we had fashioned an almost perfect imitation that worked.

Anyway, Roger got to tying up some small streamers that night, and right out of the blue, he put together his version of the Barnes Special, in a smaller size. Actually, it resembled the “original” one in size.

The “Barnsie” has gone on to be “the” fly at Grand Lake Stream, when fly casting for landlocked salmon. The original Barnes Special streamer fly was, and still is ranking “up there” as one of the most renowned fly patterns, in usage and success in fly fishing results, rivaling Grey Ghost, 9-3, Supervisor, Joe’s Smelt, Mickey Finn, Black Ghost, and Red and White.

Tying The Barnsie”

Hook: 4X long of your choice

Tail: NO tail

Body: Flat silver tinsel (medium #14)

Rib: Medium oval silver tinsel (medium #14)

Wing: Pinch of red bucktail, over which sparse white bucktail, over which are two matched yellow saddle hackles, over which are two grizzly saddle hackles, and matched.

Throat: One medium sized white hackle, wound around, then tied slightly back.

Head: Red thread. This fly pattern differs from the original Barnes Special streamer by an absent Junglecock tail and red threat or painted head.

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