Here is the fly pattern sheet for the Ray Charles.

Ray Charles |

 Ray Charles - Tan |

 Ray Charles Materials |





Dai Riki 060, size 16 


Size 8/0 red


Medium pearl flashabou


Ostrich herl, white or tan



  1. De-barb hook and start thread.
  2. Attach a short piece of pearl flashabou and advance thread along the hook shank stopping even with the hook barb.
  3. Optional: Tie in a short (6”) piece of tying thread the same color as the ostrich herl.
  4. Select an ostrich herl and trim butt to get to good fibers. Strip small portion of butt stem and tie in. Move thread to one eye length back of eye. Wind ostrich herl forward using touching wraps to tie-off point.
  5. With moist fingers, wet the ostrich herl and smooth it down over the sides to flatten the top of the fly.
  6. Pull the flashabou over the top of the fly as a shellback and secure at hook eye. After tying the flashabou down, fold it back over the thread wraps for more security and whip finish.

“The “Ray Charles” is an excellent imitation for a sow bug. The pattern originated as a “guide fly” on Montana’s tail waters.  As the story goes, when one of the guide’s clients asked where the fly’s name originated;  the guide responded “because even a blind man can catch fish with this fly”. My fishing partners and I have fished this fly extensively on the Crooked River for the last 2 years and the fly as accounted for hundreds of redbands and mountain whitefish.  John Anderson’s (COF’s resident expert on macroinvertebrates) analysis of fish stomachs collected on the Crooked River indicates sow bugs (rather than scuds) are seasonally important food items. The Ray Charles is my “go to” fly for the Crooked and Deschutes rivers. My favorite color is tan and size 16 is the best choice of size. Olive also works well. It is an easy fly to tie and requires only three materials. There are several ways to tie this fly. The directions in Jim Schollmeyer and Ted Lesson’s new book, Flies for Western Super Hatches, are the best for beginners. By the way, all tiers should definitely have this book near their tying bench. I fish this fly as my bottom fly on a 2 fly rig. You want to dead drift this fly near the stream bottom. As always, tie more than one because your fishing partners will want one when you catch all the fish.” Bill Seitz



  1. John:
    Just tied up some Ray Charles, and wondering what is the best presentation for this small, unweighted fly? How to keep it on the bottom? On another note: a recent post of yours, you explained how to rig up a leader by removing the first part and then tying in the tippet. Can you direct me to that post please? Thanks
    PS: when do the Flycasters meet at the Senior Center.

  2. Hey John. I just want to say thank you for posting this, and all your other blogs. The Ray Charles just saved my bacon on the Crooked last weekend. There was absolutely nothing hatching, so I figured I would give it a shot dropped off an egg pattern and it turned a skunk into a 20 fish day in about two hours. I have been sporadically fishing the Crooked for years and I have always pretty much stuck with the standard PT/Zebra combo when nymphing, through good days and bad, so it is great to have a bunch more patterns to tie up and try.

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