• Scott Tansowny

A Fly Fishing Fly with a Dual Nature: The Jekyll-Hyde

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dr. Jekyll wrote in a diary,

“I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

The idea of the duality of human nature is the main theme of the story. In fly fishing there is a fly that has this same dual personality. It was created by the late Bob Scammell and is both a dry fly and a streamer. Bob Scammell was an award winning outdoors writer with a weekly column in the Red Deer Advocate for 47 years and multiple books. He also created the Jekyll-Hyde fly.

Tiger trout caught on Bob Scammell's Jekyll-Hyde dry fly/streamer
Tiger trout caught on Jekyll-Hyde dry fly/streamer

While fishing salmonfly or golden stone hatches, Bob noticed that he was getting strikes on his Stimulators, not during the dead drift, but after the fly started to drag, was pulled under the surface, and he had started stripping it in. This prompted him to create a fly that has two personalities. It is a standard, big dry fly, floating downstream, appearing to be a drifting stonefly or grasshopper until suddenly you pull it under the surface with a quick strip and it becomes a streamer, prompting aggressive strikes from fish that didn’t take the dry.

Bob Scammell’s Tying Recipe:

Hook: 3X long streamer hooks, sizes 6–10.

Tail: Red bucktail, topped with marabou and flashabou

Rib: Copper wire

Body: Bright poly yarn, the brighter the better

Body Hackle: Short brown hackle

Underwing: Stiff deer or elk hair

Overwing: Bright marabou plume and flashabou or tinsel

Head Hackle: Large semi-stiff grizzly saddle hackle

Head: Red bright red poly yarn

Jekyll-Hyde dry fly/streamer
Jekyll-Hyde Dry Fly/Streamer

To fish the Jekyll-Hyde, cast the fly upstream and let it drift drag-free, as Dr. Jekyll, as long as you can. As soon as the fly starts to drag, give it some quick strips to turn it into Mr. Hyde and pull the fly under the surface; then strip it as you would a streamer. The fly also comes in handy when you want to fish a streamer in a location that is tough to cast into such as amidst log jams or under fallen trees. The unique properties of the Jekyll-Hyde mean you can cast the fly upstream of the obstructions and let it float down to the prime spot for a trout and just when the fly gets to the perfect location, give it a strip and watch it turn into a streamer.

Next time you’re fly fishing for trout, char, or grayling, embrace your dual nature and fish a fly that can be both a dry and a streamer. Try out the Jekyll-Hyde.