Guide Flies: The Convertible
By Boots Allen

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.