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Home / Fly Tying / Tarpon Intruder – Steelhead Toad?

Tarpon Intruder – Steelhead Toad?


Innovation VS Consistency

Two new patterns from Matt Sharp that could be amazing innovations or failed creative blunders – we need your help to find out which one they will be!

Innovation with fly tying is a wonderful aspect of our hobby. That said I don’t know how many times I have filled a fly box with “innovative” patterns that look great on the vice only to get out on the water and realize that they don’t swim correctly, the materials fowl around the hook or they simply don’t catch fish – in short they are bad patterns. You then realize that you were not being innovative, you were trying too hard to be special, should have stuck with the tried tested and true patterns and not wasted a bunch of time.

For every hundred or so creative ideas that I come up with or see from friends, clients or the internet, one will be different, one will be special, one idea will do something that I have not seen before, something that the fish have not seen before and might just out-fish the tried tested and true patterns. This is the holy grail of fly tying innovation.

Whenever I am preparing for a trip I try to keep this in mind. I will never fill the box with a million different innovations. 90% of any box should be tried tested and true patterns, tied in different sizes and weights with each variant tied in multiples of 3 or more.  Reserve the last 10% of the box for Hail Mary creative ideas.

The Work In Progress Tarpon Box

The Work In Progress Tarpon Box

Fight your creative urges 90% of the time – Let it run wild 10% of the time

Right now I am preparing for a tarpon trip that is on the calendar for next year and I have been working to tie standard toad, marabou and bunny strip patterns that are recommended for the destination. I have made sure to have at least a half dozen of each style and color variation tied exactly the same.  This will allow me the luxury of giving a few away if I have the “hot” pattern and still know that I have a good supply for myself.  The box is getting full and it is time to play a little with creative patterns.  I have had an idea brewing in the back of my head for some years and last night I put the idea to a hook, taking one of the most popular steelhead patterns and rudely mashing it together with one of the most popular tarpon patterns. The end result was two new patterns, one for my tarpon trip and one for steelhead season.

Tarpon Intruder ?  Steelhead Toad?


The design and reasoning behind these 2 patterns is below – remember that these patterns have a high probability of not working – I would love help in testing them – I will post findings of successes and failures as they come in.


Steelhead Toad

Popular patterns for tarpon have seen a ton of innovation in the last 20 years and I have noticed a trend that is familiar.

They started with classic feather patterns, innovated by Florida flats legends. We then saw a big push into rabbit tailed patterns. In the last decade we have seen the innovation of toad flies and more synthetic patterns.

This had an interesting parallel to steelhead pattern innovation and from watching these trends it looks as though steelheaders might be a step ahead of the tarpon curve when it comes to natural materials and the tarpon flies look as though they are a step ahead in the synthetic department .


Tarpon Intruders

If anyone gets a chance to try these patterns in the water before my trip I would love to hear how they swim and hear about any design flaws. Obviously I would also love to hear about any success stories.  I have been guiding cold water for many years but I am an amateur warm water fisherman at best. If this pattern is a complete flop, along with so many other “innovative” flies I won’t be surprised.  With any luck this might be one of a 1% innovative flies that is actually a winner…. And Yes we have already thought of making it in Pink – Jason has requested the steelhead toad in pink for his trip up North!

Good luck out on the water

Matt Sharp