Fly Patterns - Yong Special

                              Yong Special



Andy Kim, whose real name in Korean is Andy Yong, is known as the legend of the San Juan River. I’ve never met him; rather, I learned of him through my friend Keith Kaneko who has fished with him several times. Keith uses the Yong Special wherever midges are present, including the lower Yuba River where he guides regularly. According to Keith, the Yong Special will catch fish when no other fly will work—and it out-fishes all of the other midge patterns that we know and love.


Here’s a testimonial: “Simple but deadly. That's the best way to describe Andy Kim's series of midge imitations. His flies are so efficient, he has earned the jealousy of some rival guides, and it was long rumored on the San Juan River that he must be scenting his flies, or somehow fishing unethically. ‘How else can he catch that many fish?’ anglers would whisper over a beer at the Sportsman's Inn. ‘It's just not natural.’”


Indeed, this fly is the ultimate in simplicity—it’s all thread. It is the manner of applying the thread that makes the difference. It is critical that the finished body be smooth, with no lumps. To accomplish this, a smooth, tapered under body must be laid down. This is done by unwinding the thread so that it lies flat on the hook shank. When the tapered under body is completed, the thread is “over-tightened” by spinning the bobbin clockwise; the taut thread is then wound forward to create a segmented body.


Thread type and color are also critical. Andy Kim uses Coates and Clark sewing thread for the body, and standard thread for the head. Once the techniques are learned, it is possible to tie several dozen specimens in an hour.


(The following was taken from


Tying Instructions (Note: click Ctrl+ about 6 times to enlarge the webpage & see photo detail; Ctrl– 6 times to reduce size)

1.  Debarb the hook.

2.  Attach the thread at the mid-point of the hook and unwind it by twisting the bobbin counter-clockwise. Hold the thread taut with your left hand while taking two or three wraps toward the eye of the hook. Leave space for about two thread wraps behind the hook eye to build a head later. (Note: although the following pictures don’t show the thread untwisted, I highly recommend that you do so; it will create a smoother under body)





3.  Wrap the thread back over the previous layer to the mid-point of the hook and trim the excess thread. This will help create the tapered body of the fly.



4.  Continue to wrap thread to the rear of the hook and stop just above the hook barb.



5.  Twist the thread clockwise until it is tightly wound. Wrap forward with touching turns to the eye of the hook and make a small two turn whip-finish. Trim the thread.



6.  Attach the black 8/0 fly tying thread behind the eye of the hook, and build a pronounced head, or thorax, that is a little less than ¼ the length of the hook shank. Whip-finish and apply a tiny drop of super glue just behind the hook eye.



Finished fly.



Tying & Fishing Tips

1.  As mentioned in last month’s column, it is much easier to debarb the hook at the vise than on the stream. If you drop the tiny hook at the bench you have a fighting chance to find it; not so if you drop your fly while on the stream either when you are trying to extract it from the fly box or while tying it on.

2.  As also mentioned in last month’s column, after using super glue to finish the fly, use a piece of fine copper wire to ream out the eye. It will be hard enough to tie this miniscule critter to your leader, but you’ll become totally frustrated if you discover the tiny eye clogged as you try to poke the leader into the eye.

3.  Fish the Yong Special under an indicator if you wish, or use swinging techniques with an intermediate line and a 9 or 10 foot leader tapered to 5x or 6x diameter.

4.  I found the C & C Summer Brown #54A thread at JoAnne’s craft store. Unfortunately all they had was the large spool, so I had to have a friend with a sewing machine “decant” it down to a sewing machine bobbin that fits my Renzetti midge bobbin (which is not a bad thing when tying tiny flies).


Stay warm out there…




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