Brooks’ Blonde is a saltwater fly pattern that dates back to the early 1960s but still gets used regularly in modern times. Joe Brooks was one of the forefathers of saltwater fly in the USA and developed many patterns that helped to forge the way for fly rodders. His Blonde was tied predominately from deer hair, which was an easily obtainable and useful material for a lot of flies in that era. The plethora of animal fur and feather substitutes that are currently available were not even a dream for fly tyers back then.
Even renowned flyfishers of our era, such as Lefty Kreh, believe that it was Joe Brooks, more than any one else, who introduced the world of saltwater flyfishing to the average angler. Joe Brooks put a lot of time and effort into his craft and wrote many articles about it. After World War II ended, the returning soldiers were yearning to fish again and they took great interest in the accomplishments and exploits that Joe Brooks had meticulously described in his articles and books. He tied many time proven patterns, although the Blonde is definitely the best known these days.
The original idea behind the Blonde was to create a pattern that would imitate many of the small herring, mud minnows and menhaden, which were found in the waterways where he fished. The tail section was actually supposed to look like an underbelly, and therefore part of the body section, but it was tied further back to avoid the bucktail tangling with the hook. The original Blonde pattern did not have an eye. After they started adding an eye to create a focal point for marauding predators, this original pattern was referred to as the ‘blind blonde’.
The Blonde can be tied in many colours but some of the initial ones were plain white (platinum blonde), yellow (honey blonde), sky blue/white (Argentine blonde) and orange/red (strawberry blonde). A modern day variation tied from bleached bucktail could possibly be called the ‘peroxide blonde’.
There are plenty of ways to fish the Brooks’ Blonde and each retrieve will vary, depending on the fishing situation and target species. Because it is tied from deer tail, which has a fair degree of buoyancy, the Blonde will only sink slowly when tied on a light gauge hook. This almost-neutral buoyancy is one of the possible reasons why predators will readily eat this fly between strips. When fished with long strips and a few seconds in between, the Blonde will not sink much during the pause and sometimes resembles a disorientated baitfish. It is equally effective during a rod-under-the-arm, flat stick, hand-over-hand retrieve, which sees it resembling a fleeing baitfish. It can be cast into quite turbulent whitewater and allowed to wash around a bit, as it only sinks slowly. This approach is often fairly productive for trevally, dart, tailor, kings and other species that hunt in this zone.
When tying up a Brooks’ Blonde, it is important to remember that even though it looks bulky, it is in fact a sparse fly. You need to keep the materials you use to a minimum. There are no substitute materials that will benefit the effectiveness of this fly, except for the ribbing. Traditionally, flat mylar tinsel or coloured thread was used as ribbing for the body, however, a better material called Diamond Braid is now often used. Deer tail fibres are still the best winging material as most synthetics will clump too closely when wet and will not fan out and give the impression of volume and movement. Many synthetics also tangle easily with the hook shank during casting.
Step 1. Put the hook in the vise and attach the thread with a jam knot (or similar) on the end of the hook shank opposite the point of the hook. Cut a small amount of white bucktail, roughly as long as the hook shank, and affix it at this point with a series of wraps. Whip finish (or do several half-hitches) to secure the thread and prevent it unravelling.
Step 2. Affix the end of the silver diamond braid at this spot (opposite the point of the hook) with a few wraps. Advance the thread forward with a series of sparse wraps until the thread is near the eye of the hook. Allow the bobbin to hang at this point so that the thread still has tension in it and does not unravel.
Step 3. Wrap the diamond braid forward until you almost reach the eye of the hook. The wraps should be close enough so that the entire shank of the hook is covered except for the last millimetre or so. Tie off the diamond braid with a whip finish and cut away the remaining bit. Be careful that you do not cut the thread.
Step 4. Cut the bucktail that is to be your chosen overwing. It should be at least long enough to equal or exceed the end of the white bucktail that you previously tied in. Cut the hair away from the skin of the bucktail and then hold the tips of the fibres between thumb and forefinger while you tease out the shorter fibres from the base. Cut off the base of the fibre bunch to length with a 45-degree cut. This will make tying in easier and neater. Put the bucktail very close to the eye of the hook and only tie in the very base of the fibres. The 45-degree cut will make the fibres flair slightly when pressure is applied to the very tips by the thread. Do not cut off the remaining thread yet.
Step 5. Apply a little vinyl cement to the tie in points for both bits of bucktail. You can hold the fibres in place while it dries to improve the profile of the fly if need be. Affix a self-adhesive eye just behind the eye of the hook and bind over with the mono thread to hold it on. Whip finish off the thread and cut away the remainder. Cover this with head cement or epoxy to finish off.
Your Brooks’ Blonde is now completed, and despite being a very old saltwater pattern, it’s still a success for a host of species.
Hook - Mustad 34007 size 1
Thread - Fine Mono
Tail - White bucktail
Overwing - Light orange bucktail
Ribbing - Silver diamond braid.
Eye - Self-adhesive 2mm silver
Finish - Vinyl cement, head cement and/or epoxy.Reads: 456