The Matuka

Bob Krumm's favorite streamer for the Bighorn

The idea of binding the hackle wing along the top of the hook shank originated in New Zealand over 50 years ago. The name comes from the bird whose feathers were used for the wing of the first versions of this pattern. The fly represents fry or minnows, but also makes an effective suggestive pattern of something a hungry trout would like to eat. It is a style that makes for a very robust wing that resembles the long dorsal fin of a bait fish.

The Matuka was introduced to the USA and the rest of the world about 1975. They have been tied in just about every color combination you can imagine.

Typical Materials List (Brad Befus tie):

Hook: Streamer, sizes 2-6.
Thread: Black 6/0.
Ribbing: Fine copper, gold, or silver wire.
Body: Olive chenille (or dubbed olive rabbit fur, tapered olive floss, etc.)
Gills (Optional): A few turns of red chenille, red yarn, red fur dubbing, red floss, etc.
Wing: Four to six matched saddle hackles.
Hackle: Olive grizzly hackle.
Eyes (Optional): Painted or stick-on

Tying the Matuka:


Fishing the Matuka
Courtesy of Brad Befus & John Berryman

"Matukas look like fish, and thanks to their feather wings, they wiggle like fish too. You can combine the Matuka with many bodies. Working with multiple feathers can be a bit tricky, and you may find the rate of feather consumption hard on your wallet, but what does any of that matter when you've got a fish on?

Overall, it's been my experience that fly fishers (and particularly dyed-in-the-wool trout fly fishers) use streamers the least of any of the flies available. I think there may be two reasons for this: First, many anglers don't have much luck with streamers. Why? Because they are using the wrong leader and line combinations. Streamers do best with short leaders (as short as three feet) and sinking, or sink tips, lines. And even then, you must give the streamer time to sink! Before you cast, wet your streamer thoroughly, flip it out into the water, and assess its sink rate. Then, when you cast, you can "count down" your streamer (just like spin fishers count down their sinking plugs) and place it where it will do some good. In my experience, most "streamer failures" are related to simply not giving the things time to sink. Second, many fly fishers, while admirably schooled in the art of the "dead drift," are either at a loss, or uncomfortable, with actually giving a fly some action. Let me repeat what I said at the beginning of this chapter: Streamers swim. Watch schools of bait fish and observe the way they move. Experiment with your retrieves. Is your streamer a steady, purposefully swimming fish with a particular destination in mind? Is it darting around in search of tiny crustaceans and nymphs? Or is it a sick or crippled fish, struggling aimlessly? All of these retrieves are "found in nature," all of them are appropriate for use with streamers, and they all take fish at one time or another. Observe experiment, note results, and repeat as needed."