I asked Bruce to give me a brief history of the Rambulance to add to the Fly of the Week write-up. What I received was a look into the thought processes that went into the creation of this fly. A very detailed description of those thought processes. Normally, I would edit them down to a few sound bites and move on, but Bruce's insight here is too interesting to leave on the cutting room floor... JL
Like most other fisherman chasing Steelhead I was taken in by the Intruder from the first time I saw the fly in Dec Hogan’s “Passion for Steelhead” on the two-page spread. I already had a box loaded with varying flies from 3” to 7“ long. I found the rabbit-infested flies (among other materials) hard to cast, almost impossible in tight casting lies, and hard to sink. In open water where you could make a full D-loop, the flies doomed to the garbage can would lazily waffle their way out mid-stream. Many of the flies were in a constant struggle. What struggle is that you ask? The struggle was loads of Rio T14 trying to get a fly down, but the flies and the way someone constructed them were not having any part of going down. Kind of like trying to inflate a truck tire with a bicycle pump; it doesn’t work! I figured there has to be a better fly that is: easy to cast, has good movement, attractive profile, is durable, etc.
So, my Rambulance was born and has evolved into three color options: 1. The original Blue for fishing from clear to optimal conditions both in late summers and winters. 2. Orange version which is a two-toned Hot Orange/ Blaze Orange that shows up well in all colored up from “Steelhead Green,” to glacial tinted winter Steelhead streams, and even off-color dirty water. 3. Two-toned Hot Orange/ Hot Pink version I call "Shrimpish” (The fly fisherman’s Pink Rubber Worm).
This write up is on the Orange Rambulance. Originally designed for winter fish, it has turned into my go-to confidence fly. My connection with Montana Fly Company has helped me learn about the versatility of orange. As a commercial fly-tying company MFC’s wide distribution of the fly provided me with feedback from shows, shop demos etc. that many fishermen found success chasing Summer Steelhead with Orange “Rammers”. At first, I would hear the story, inevitably look at a picture on their phone, and think to myself, “Man, great to be lucky now and then.” Enough stories and pictures prompted me to try the orange for Summer Steelhead, which I would not have done on my own. It works great, especially in cold weather/cold water.
As for fly design, Rambulance really is not an Intruder nor is it a traditional Scandinavian “Temple Dog”. It is a marriage of both styles with a toe over the line on the “Scandi” style. The main difference is that the back end of the fly has a hackle and wing to create lift towards the back end of the fly. Couple that with forward-mounted weight and Rambulance flies ride fairly level through currents as opposed to nose up which I have a hard time trusting and fishing with confidence. Rambulance flies are a Medium/Large, Fall/Winter/Spring flies that range from 3 to 3 ½” in profile. The advantage of colorways with strong contrast is I can fish them in all water types found Fall through Spring, from low and clear, to high and off color.
Pro Sportfisher (formerly Pro Tubefly Systems) becoming available in the U.S. market was paramount in developing the Rambulance. The weighting systems, tubes, metal and plastic cones all come in lots of sizes and great colors that allows simplicity and creativity in modern fly design. Think Lego’s for big kids!
Tube: Pro Nano Tube, Clear
Hook Guide/Junction: Pro Hook Guide Large, Fl. Orange
Weight: Pro Drop Weight Medium –or- Pro Raw Weight Small
Butt: MFC Berry’s Fish Dope Dubbing, Sunkissed Orange
Rear Hackle: Golden Pheasant Tippet, died Fl. Orange
Rear Wing: Craft Fur, Flame Orange
Rib: Lagartun Silver, Small
Body: Salt Water Flashabou, Pearl over Black Thread
Body Hackle: Saddle Hackle, Fl. Orange
Dubbing Bump: MFC Berry’s Fish Dope Dubbing, Sunkissed Orange
Prop: Pro Opossum Hot Orange Twisted into Dubbing Loop –or- Pro Soft Sonic Disc Medium
Front Wing: Craft Fur, Fl. Orange
Lateral Lines: Krinkle Mirror Flash, Dyed Orange
Front Hackle: Marabou, Fl. Orange
Flash: Flashabou, Copper (tied in like horns)
Collar: Schlappen, Fl. Orange
Cheeks/Optional: Pro J.C. HD Orange