Keys version, Junkyard Dog Tarpon Fly by Patt Wardlaw

Costa Rica's Rio Colorado version with Keys version in background for size comparison


The Tarpon Fly pictured is credited to me, in Lefty Kreh's Book "SALT WATER FLY PATTERNS", as "The Pusher".  In reality, it was developed with an entirely different name, suggested by a kibitzer, the night it was first tied.

The first day had not been productive for the 21 flyrodders at Casa Mar Camp in Laguna Agua Dulce of the Rio Colorado on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast.  We were trying to come up with a fly that might work better than the patterns, which had been producing for the previous week's group, particularly the Orange and Black Feather duster.  The second afternoon, tired of still getting no grab I tied on a five-inch version of the Stu Apt Tarpon Fly (red and yellow) and jumped two fish, landing one. 

That evening, along with retired COL. Bill Billado we began a design utilizing the red and yellow of the Apt, combined with some of the Feather duster's grizzly with a lot of hackle to make "noise" in the muddy river water.  One fellow walking behind observed, "Geez, that fly looks meaner'n a junk yard dog!"  We had a good laugh.

Developing the fly with more few embellishments it became a very bushy and loud pattern.  I landed two fish the next day with it.  No fly name sticks until the fly has proven itself, so my success enabled the "Junk Yard Dog" to exist.  I was hot with it for the next week and actually landed a third of the fish taken by the whole group of 21, combined.  I was lucky and "in the zone", as they say, but the fly worked in following years, too.

I left behind samples and, apparently, the fly continued to produce.  Bill Barnes (camp owner) must have given Lefty one without remembering our naming.  It was designed to push a lot of water and be "heard" by tarpon in that low visibility environment so the descriptive name "Pusher" wasn't ilogical.  But my luck had 21 guys and gals tying the damn thing that week and I'm sure they all remember it by the name inspired in the line of the then hit song about Big Bad Leroy Brown: "Meaner than old King Kong, meaner than a Junk Yard Dog!"



The fly is at least twice as long as keys patterns and a lot bulkier designed to "push" dirty water the fish can locate by vibration if not sight.

RIO COLORADO VERSION:  overall length is five to six inches.

Hook:   4/0 254SS or Tarpon hook of choice.
Head:   Yellow thread.
Tail:     The original had yellow fluorescent (now-illegal) Polar Bear but bucktail works.
Wings: 2 fluorescent red on each side, 3 fluorescent orange next and grizzly outside both. Wings are splayed.
Hackle:  Very bushy, red, orange and grizzly back to front, two each color.

KEYS VERSION:  overall length is two and a half to three inches and much less bulky.

Hook:   2/0 Owner, black chrome.
Head:   Bright yellow thread or yellow paint.
Tail:     Yellow bucktail.
Wings and Hackle: Same colors as the Rio Colorado version, just one of each color both places. 



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