Ish's Kool Herc - Chartreuse/White


Ish's Kool Herc - Chartreuse/White





My streamers are primarily designed to be fished on a down-and-across wet fly swing, ideally with two-handed rods. When I started out experimenting with spey rods for trout, I found that of the hundreds of streamers in production, few were actually designed to swim in a lifelike manner. Standard buggers and muddlers are pretty wooden on a dead swing. The more modern articulated monsters are brimming with movement, but are intended to provoke territorial reactions via aggressive, "jerk strip" retrieves. While Wooly Buggers and Circus Peanuts can certainly be swung, I set out to develop trout streamers specifically dedicated for swinging.

Borrowing concepts from both Atlantic salmon and steelhead patterns, I began adapting anadromous-oriented elements for my local freestones and tailwaters, forming my own ideas of proper swing-style fly construction in the process.

This is the O.G., the godfather from which all my other streamers emerged. On its initial test drive on the Miracle Mile stretch of the North Platte, I quickly stuck three browns, cut the fly off, gave it Grant Houx of St. Peter's Fly Shop, and didn't see that guy for another two hours. When he finally reappeared, he was all smiles and said, "We're going to need some more of those."

The single most important characteristic of my Kool Herc is its profile, the shape and movement the fly takes when pulled against the river's hydraulics. Too often, folks focus on how flies look in the vise or bins instead of how they will move under tension. Whereas dead-drifted dries and nymphs undergo close inspection, making the case (perhaps) for anatomical correctness, and jerk-stripped articulateds are built to provoke impulse reactions, meaning the more explosive the chaos the better, swing-style flies swim across the river at a near-constant pace. Thus, I built the Herc to replicate the profile and swimming movement of sculpins, crayfish, parr, and other baitfish.


  1. The shank-style platform with a trailer loop and Octopus hook is perhaps the most significant advantage over conventional trout streamers. Popularized by salmon and steelhead fisherman, it offers three distinct advantages: 1) Octopus hooks are far sharper and "stickier" than normal fly hooks - if you get a decent hook-up, you're going to land the fish; and 2) the shank/trailer loop design allows you to fish a large fly without using a giant hook - this is better for the fish and increases landing rates since fish cannot use a 2" long hook shank to leverage out the hook point. Bottom line, this style gets more fish to the bank/boat.

  2. The "hidden cone" gives the fly a more level attitude (versus head-heavy), neutralizes the bulk of the marabou, and adds mass to keep the soft materials from compressing lifelessly against the shank.

  3. The mylar underbody provides a subtle amount of eye-catching flair. Because it is enveloped by the softer, flowing materials, it has the effect of an internal "glow."

Color matters. I do not know how or why but I am convinced it is critical. There have been way too many times where a buddy and I have worked the same run, casting at similar angles, swinging at similar depths, and one of us was totally on the fish and the other completely off, with the only perceptible difference being the color of our flies. Similarly, there have been far too many times where I have worked through a seemingly "dead" run only to be immediately lit up after a simple color change.

Over the years, I have developed a handful of mini-theories (i.e., white/chartreuse for sunny conditions and rainbows and cutbows, olive/brown overcast days, murky water, and browns), but all have been consistently debunked by trout. My only solution has been to multiple color combinations and flies and cycle through until I figure out what works.


I primarily fish the Herc using light spey or switch rods and sink tips. My go-to rig for big rivers is a 6-weight Beulah Platinum Spey, 420 grain AirFlo Skagit Switch, 7' of T-11 for a sinktip and 4' of 8lb tippet. On smaller rivers I use a 5-weight Beulah Platinum Switch, 275 grain Rio Skagit Short, 5' of T-8 for a sink tip and 4' of 6 or 8lb tippet. I attach all of my streamers with a nonslip mono loop knot. The Herc on these set ups has produced fish on the Yuba, American, Rogue, Applegate, Deschutes, Green, Madison, Big Horn, North Platte, Blue, Cache la Poudre, even Terra del Fuego.

While the Herc was designed to swing, it has produced big days both pounding banks out of boat and stripping in lakes from a float tube.