Kelsey’s Hope

Story and Photography by Nick Didlick

Kelsey’s Hope, A River Never Sleeps favorite is a streamer fly pattern developed and tested over ten years of fresh water Coho Salmon fishing. It can be tied in various sizes for the different water conditions fall fly fishers encounter while fishing for migrating salmon in the rivers and streams of the West Coast of North America.

While I tried various materials and hooks for Kelsey’s Hope the pattern has settled into a very simple set of materials tied in a simple way. When fishing in extremely low water conditions I will use a smaller hook and a 15lb mono body to make the pattern look more like a low water Spey Fly or traditional English Salmon Fly pattern. But as the water rises and becomes murky and carries fall leaves and other debris downstream past running salmon I will switch to a fuller dressed Kelsey’s Hope with a larger hook and heavier (35lb) mono body which will look more like a Salt Water Bucktail.

While Kelsey’s Hope was developed as a fresh water Coho Fly it has worked extremely well for Bull Trout and Rainbow Trout in land locked streams far from the ocean.

Why does it work? I guess if I knew that, fly fishing wouldn’t be one of my favorite pastimes. But I have seen Coho and Bull Trout change direction and swim 20 to 30 meters out of their way or leave their holding or hiding places to grab a Kelsey’s Hope in the right water conditions.

Once while fishing with my fishing partner in a small pool we could see three 10 lb+ Steelhead holding in the pool with 5 or more large Bull Trout holding 5 meters behind them. It was his turn to cast first and present a Kelsey’s Hope to the group of Steelhead. One of them made the move to take the little blue and green fly when from far behind it one of the Bull Trout streaked forward grabbing it before the large silver Steelhead. It was an impressive sight that enabled me to make the second set of casts hooking one of the Steelhead leaving both of us playing large fish.

I have used Polar Bear to substitute the bucktail and the productivity of the fly dropped off, I also tried different color combinations of bucktail and other materials and the fly didn’t work as well. All I can figure is that when the bucktail reaches its fishing depth and the water filters out the daylight the resulting colors that the fish see triggers them to strike.

What you will need to tie a Kelsey’s Hope

(Try tying it yourself and experiment as I did and adapt the pattern for your local river or stream by varying the hook size and amount of wing dressing.)

Hook: Daiichi #2055 Size 5 in a gold color for a medium to large fly. I used to use a Mustad #34007 but found that the wing of the fly would foul around the bend in the hook when casting the fly causing it to twirl on the retrieve. The Daiichi #2055 Size 5 in gold keeps the wing from fouling and also I have found that the gold color seems to attract more fish.
Body: Orvis Super Strong Tippet material 25 pound test (Diameter .015) over UNI-Mylar #12 Gold Silver Tinsel.
Wing: Dark Blue Bucktail over Dark Green Bucktail over Dragonfly Pearl Krystal Flash (KF9)
Thread: Black Waxed Monocord 3/0

Step by step Kelsey’s Hope in the making
Position the Daiichi #2055 Size 5 hook in a gold color for a medium to large fly in your vice.
Tie on the Black Waxed Monocord 3/0 to the bend of the hook and tie in the Orvis Super Strong Tippet material 25 pound test (Diameter .015) and the UNI-Mylar #12 Gold Silver Tinsel so that the silver side will be on the outside. Bring the tying thread to the head of the hook.
Wrap the UNI-Mylar #12 Gold Silver Tinsel silver side out for the length of the body and tie it of and trim off the excess.
This is the tricky step! Wrap the Orvis Super Strong Tippet material 25 pound test (Diameter .015) around the hook and over the UNI-Mylar #12 Gold Silver Tinsel. This will give the body of the fly some depth and protect the tinsel from ripping on the teeth of a hooked fish. Carefully trim off the excess.
Tie in about 12 strands of the Dragonfly Pearl Krystal Flash (KF9).
Tie in the Dark Green Bucktail over Dragonfly Pearl Krystal Flash (KF9) using about double the amount of the Krystal Flash you tied on earlier.
Tie in Dark Blue Bucktail over Dark Green Bucktail using an equal amount of Dark Blue Bucktail to Green Bucktail. Whip finish and cement the head.
You will notice that the fly wing will appear to stick up exposing the body of the fly. This is exactly the way you will want to fish it. When the fly is presented as a streamer pattern it will have an appealing look to it from a fish’s point of view.