There's something intriguing about intruders. They sit on the manifold of aggressiveness, beauty, precise complexity and just wrapping sh*t around a shank. I am sure we all have a story about when intruders first crossed our paths. For some, it was a moment of resentment and malignity, upset about the regression from dries and purist patterns to large flies tied with feather duster ends. Perhaps it was a moment of attraction, completely smitten by their long undulating fibers. Whatever it may be, there is no denying that intruders produce results.
A Little History First:
The Intruder itself is actually a pattern and more so a concept designed and developed by the Jerry French, Ed Ward and Scott Howell crew, who were at the forefront of skagit lines and big flies. The Intruder was designed to imitate baitfish, squid, shrimp and even small eels using subtle natural tones with large sparse profiles. In the early 1990s French, Howell, and Ward had been in Alaska guiding and fishing with big 3/0 spey hooks. Unfortunately they noticed that with a large shank, fish were more prone to throwing the hook and that fish mortality was increased; thus born, the shank fly. Being in prime testing grounds, this fly evolved from vise to water and water to vise. Still unnamed, French remarked how during one of their test trials, "Ed was swimming his latest fly, this crazy thing with tentacles going everywhere . . . I said 'Intruder alert, Intruder alert', like Robby the Robot. Didn't you ever see Lost in Space?" (Modern Steelhead Flies, Nicholas & Russel). The Intruder was continuously changing but with a stroke of engineering ingenuity while fiddling with a speaker wire, French noticed that the stereo's insulated wire had a clear plastic coating that would be perfect for sliding over the tippet and snugging onto the butt section of the shank with an added 30lb mono loop.
Fast forward thirty years and nearly every trout, steelhead or salmon angler on the river will have a box somewhere stocked full of intruder flies; whether they currently fish them or not. But long are the days where we are required to use cut shanks, speaker wire and 30lb mono.
1. Bulls, Rainbows, Browns, Salmon, Steelhead? What are you fishing for?
Often you're tying intruders to imitate something, so you have to know what you're targeting. Where do these fish live? What are their tendencies or preferences? Ar