Borden's Special

Discussion in 'Patterns' started by GAT, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. The Borden's Special has been mentioned from time to time in recent SRC threads. Borden's Special was created by Bob Borden, founder of Hareline Dubbin. He tied the fly to fish for SRC in the tidewater area of Oregon Coastal rivers. It was meant to give the impression of a shrimp.

    As the pattern has been around for decades, many changes have been made by fly tyers. Bob is a friend and once a frequent fishing buddy and he told me that most of the patterns he's seen tied by others are far too sparse with the hackling. He wanted to entice the SRC so he tied the pattern with long, webby, thick hackling to give the impression of a shrimp.

    Most folks use calves tail for the wing but Bob originally tied the pattern with Arctic Fox tail fibers.

    For what it's worth, this is the pattern tied closer to how Bob originally tied the fly.

  2. Bob uses red and yellow. The only part of the pattern that is pink is the body. I believe the pink and yellow hackles is used in a pattern called The Alsea Special. But I can't find it in any of the pattern books so I think it is a local creation.

    Some tyers have included a flash topping and that is something someone decided to add. Oh, I should mention that Bob used either Arctic Fox or white Rabbit for the wing. I tied mine too sparse. He tied his patterns with a fairly thick wing.

    As with many patterns, folks change them as per their personal preference. Sparse patterns became popular so the Borden's Special was mutated to that end.

    No biggie, I suppose. Both styles are known to work. It's just interesting to see how patterns change over time and can end up much different than the original design.

    I don't normally use pink rabbit dubbing for the ones I fish and use pink chenille instead... I prefer wrapping to dubbing. I have found that a normal color of pink works better than the bright, fluorescent, knock-your-socks-off product that is popular these days. Brighter isn't always better.

    Your patterns would certainly work in the Alsea and Siletz for SRC... not to mention steelhead. Pink is also popular with the steelhead in the Alsea and Siletz.
    Jim Wallace likes this.
  3. I think my cell phone camera made the bodies on my flies a lot pinker than they are.
    Did some research and came up with the pattern from Les Johnson's book "Fly-Fishing Coastal Cutthroat Trout".
    I hope he won't mind me posting it here. Scan 38.jpeg
  4. Something is odd here. I just checked my old patterns and they are tied with pink and yellow, not red and yellow. I wanted to make sure I got the pattern as per the latest recipe and it indicated red and yellow, not pink and yellow.

    For crying out loud. I've been tying too many flies when I can't get the recipe right. The more I think about it, the more I believe the pattern shown above IS the original... tied with long hackles and all.

    Bob told me he used Arctic Fox for the wing but his memory probably isn't any better than mine.

    Geez... not only have fly tyers mutated the original pattern, I failed to realize that someone changed the color from pink to red for the hackle and tail. ...and I have some I tied long ago using pink!!!

    I'm just as bad as everyone else.... I thought the pattern looked a little off when I was tying it... :confused:
    Jeff Dodd likes this.
  5. You know, I considered blowing away the first post because the colors are wrong.... talk about a "senior moment"!

    Guess it never occurred to me that the recipe in a fairly new pattern book could be wrong but it sure as the devil is! I wonder how many other recipes are wrong?
  6. Tie up a proper Borden Special and post it with an explanation??????
  7. The photo of the pattern you posted from Les' book is how Bob tied the original fly... in fact, it looks like a fly Bob tied himself.


    Notice the hackle collar is long and thick. It bugs the devil out of Bob when tyers do not properly tie his fly. He says the long hackles are required to accurately tie the pattern. He believes it makes a difference in the effectiveness of the fly.

    Of course it is also a good idea to get the colors right :p
  9. Gene, the one in this pic looks very similar to the ones I bought at Waters West a few years ago. I lost 'em, though. I'll have to tie some.

    John Shewey's book, Northwest Fly Fishing, Trout and Beyond, has examples of the Borden Special and the Alsea Special in the fly illustrations for Searun Cutthroat. There doesn't appear to be that much difference between the two patterns. I'd say they'd be interchangeable and might produce nearly identical results. The searun cutts that hit my flies aren't all that picky, anyway.

  10. I always thought it was artic fox for the wing
  11. Yeah, I'm sure Bob told me it was originally Arctic Fox for the wing. This was sometime ago. Obviously, you can't go by me... I trusted the recipe book when I tied my pattern last night and it was wrong! However, I may tie up a number of the patterns with red and yellow just for the heck of it. Sometimes errors turn into something that works :p
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  12. DSC01199.JPG Just tied these up. Twelve turns of hackle is a lot to fit in. One body chenille, the other wool.
    Jeff Dodd and GAT like this.
  13. They certainly look good to me!
  14. This is what I love about fly tying. You have people like Gene (sorry to single you out) who try to stay as close to how a particular pattern as possible yet have amazing creativity when it comes to designing their own patterns (bass patterns, in which it takes a hell of a lot of creativity to mimic a crank bait in a fly pattern), then you have people who take a classic pattern such as this and tie it purposely differently to suit their own use, then you have other tiers (I think I fall into this group due to lack of patience and lack of skill) who basically try to tie the easiest pattern as possible that remains effective all the while trying to simplify a simple pattern further while hopefully keeping its fish-catching capabilities.

    sorry, the way this thread was going just made me think of all this...

    cool thread, btw.

  15. Normally, I try to tie the easiest patterns I can for fishing. While my baitfish patterns may look difficult to tie, they are actually very easy. I don't use clipped deer hair patterns because they take too long for me to tie.

    When you stick to the original design of Borden's Special, it is very quick and easy to tie (as long as you use the correct colors :)).

    I will modify patterns to make them more simple to tie which puts me in the same category as Randall. I believe in the Less is More approach. If I tie an experimental pattern, I'll start removing components to see how little of material I can get away with for the pattern to continue working.

    I don't use a tail on my parachute patterns because I found the fish didn't care if there is a tail on the patterns or not. So it saves a step when I don't add one.

    My favorite stillwater pattern is a Turbo Leech. It's made up of two or three (if I use a bead head) components. Basically, the entire pattern is a blood quill marabou feather and a rib. You can't get much more simple than that.

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